I remember the first day I walked into class at Middlesex Community College. It was a mix of excitement and scariness, and at the same time I was feeling lost. The square room was becoming so big while I was feeling so small. I did not consider myself a shy person… Yet, I was afraid of expressing my feelings and concerns out loud due to my basic English knowledge. Nevertheless, through the caring English Language professor, I learned that at MCC it’s not about how little you speak or know about the English language, what really matters is our optimism and willingness to learn in order to reach our goals and teach others what we learn here at college. As the semesters went by, I gained more self-confidence; that’s when I decided to apply to the Paul Sullivan Leadership Institute at MCC.
Since the first training and the orientation day, I knew that I would fall in love with the Leadership Institution like I did with Middlesex. As a mother, this institution provides me with the skills that I’ve being practicing with my children and modeling as I continue learning from its events and meetings: Have respect for myself and others, be responsible, have fun and enjoy while learning. As a student, the PSLI has been opening doors to my future. And I am becoming more friendly, open-minded, and less afraid of speaking in public.
For example, when I was showing my support to the welcoming community of Bedford on Town Day, I felt that my social skills were improving… walking in the middle of the street, giving away candies to the lovely children, and feeling as happy as the community. Those are the little moments that have a great impact on life. I was not afraid to talk and greet the community. I was not feeling nervous at all.
I had the same experience at the Young Professionals of Greater Lowell conference. Chester Elton, the author of All In, awakened a new “skill” in me: Praise good work, and as he said, “Inspire others so they could fall in love with their job.”
Feeling the need to get out of my chair and start working, at my first meeting as co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Network at MCC, I brought little boxes of chocolates and, in the name of the whole group, I gave them to all our members in order to welcome them to “Our Family.” Their “Awww” and “Thank you” made me feel as received as I think they did.
On the other hand, like any human being, I also have my weaknesses. I can feel mind-blocked when trying to translate from Spanish to English. There’s so much more that I want to say, and sometimes I don’t have the correct translation to express it. Although I know that this might not be considered as a weakness, when you combine it with insecurity, leads you right there. In addition, I can be very emotional; even when I laugh hard some tears of mine don’t hesitate; they slide down without mercy. On a bad day, it’s worse, especially if a person talks to me with a temper. Yet, I keep learning how to control these emotions.
I have as many short-term goals as long ones. One of my short ones is to be able to learn something new each day and then teach it to my children and/or friends, family, co-workers and so forth. My biggest goal is to build a shelter for single moms. As I spent 11 months living in one and still struggling with “The System,” I know the struggles of many of the women living there. It is not easy. Thus, as part of my daily goals, I am changing “I want” to “I will.” I will build a place where those single hard-working moms can learn how to be extraordinary women and leaders –just like the Paul Sullivan Institute is doing with me- and for them to become the person they have always dreamed of.
I truly know that the Paul H Sullivan Leadership Institute (along with our director Mary-Jo Griffin and the rest of the team) has been one of my best education experiences yet. With just those few events and meetings, I am feeling more awake and self-conscious, secure, inspired and dedicated. I cannot wait for the next steps of my path in this institution; it feels extremely good. I cannot thank God more for all of these changes in my life.
I can’t wait for our next big event, where I will have the pleasure to meet the Greater Lowell philanthropists, Linda and John Chemaly, a great inspirational hardworking couple.