They woke up at 6 a.m. in Berkeley on a Saturday morning, in the middle of due dates for their final papers, project and finals….
They carpooled in two cars and headed south to Palo Alto.
By 8:05 a.m. they were checking into the Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit at the Stanford Faculty Club…some of the very first attendees to arrive.
Leena Mendoza, legislative analyst from City of Fresno and a first-time attendee at the Summit, later told me “After I had parked, I didn’t know where I was going. I saw some people who looked like they’d just stepped out of an Armani catalog. I asked if they were going to the Summit and they were all so helpful. I had no idea they were undergraduate or that it was their first time at the Stanford campus.”
The student group was selected and coordinated by @Oliver Araque, a transfer student from Mexico who I met at the Berkeley campus in 2017 at a student-alumni networking event. I contacted Oliver with an idea: if I sponsored a table at the #SVLLS19, would he be willing to identify five women and five men at Cal to bring together as a group? Oliver responded with an enthusiastic YES!
And that’s how it came to be that Oliver and nine other Cal students arrived at the Faculty Club on May 4th, 2019. When I arrived a few minutes later, I was so excited to put faces to the names I had received in previous weeks, through emails introducing themselves.
In getting to know them and hearing what each hoped to gain from the day (I asked them each to complete this sentence: “I got up early and made this trip today because I want to _____________”) I realized that for most students, this was the very first time they had ever attended a conference. So I did some quick coaching on how to best introduce yourself with a powerful personal branding statement and immediately get the person you want to meet talking. I offered to make those first introductions if they felt too shy to do it on their own. Two of the students asked me to make intros to a specific nonprofit and we began.
After that first intro, they flew the coop. I spent the rest of the day enjoying watching them approach attendees and speakers to introduce themselves AND by lunchtime two of the students were bringing people to introduce to me. I witnessed them leaving their comfort zones, working through the fear and discomfort and meeting professionals eager to bring opportunities their way. I felt like the mother hen watching the pollitos grow up and explore the world… what a blessing to see!
So today I am writing to say THANK YOU to each of them so that YOU can know about each of them and connect, mentor, guide, advise and connect to those in YOUR network to move their lives forward.
Thank you Ashley Quiterio for saying YES to the opportunity to attend #SVLLS19. The intersection of Education and Data Science you’ve selected is fascinating. I can’t wait to see what you do with it!
Thank you Diana Roque, aspiring attorney for saying YES. You were the first to send the intro email way back in February. I appreciate your enthusiasm look forward to staying in touch.
Thank you Veronica Luna, aspiring attorney interested in both immigration law and criminal law. I enjoyed watching you step out of your comfort zone all day Saturday. Thanks for saying YES.
Thank you Valerie Plasencia, aspiring psychologist or medical doctor. I loved your email. I love your ambition. I can’t wait to see which path you take with your servant heart!
Thank you Janéy Lopez, ambitious, aspiring psychologist already planning on graduate school (Yay!) Your future is so bright and your focus so impressive. Thanks for saying YES and enjoying SVLLS.
Thank you Charles Santoro, aspiring financial professional, for taking advantage of every second to meet the most people. I bet YOU collected the most business cards and connected with the most people. So happy you said YES!
Thank you Al “Joy” Rojas, aspiring media company entrepreneur, you are a natural at networking. When you brought the Ericcson team to introduce me to them, I felt so much happiness watching you in action! Thank you for saying YES and also for introducing me to Elisa Charters via email after the event. Like I said… you’re a natural. I know you’ll create a network of people who want you to become successful and you WILL be successful.
Thank you Daniel Marquez, aspiring doctoral student (yay!) for saying YES and for stepping out of your comfort zone all day Saturday. Loved your gratitude-filled email the next day and to learn you’re already planning on attending again next year!
Thank you Cesar Esquivias, aspiring business professional, for your enthusiasm all day that lasted through to the post-Summit mariachi reception. Thanks for saying YES when the opportunity presented itself.
And Oliver….thanks for saying YES! and taking the time to bring this opportunity to your fellow Cal students. You’re a true leader and I appreciate your vision, ambition, innovative thinking and servant heart. Whatever path you choose, whichever country you choose to live in later, I know you WILL make improvements to the status quo and disrupt what needs to be disrupted!
And finally, thank you Frank and Molly Carbajal for making it each to get these student to this milestone Summit this year. You WILL see these leaders again. 🙂