I firmly believe that leadership and professional development are lifelong pursuits. After graduating from Ferris State University in 2014 with a BA in Social Work and from the University of Michigan in 2015 with my MS in Social Work, I began my position as the Director of the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center of West Michigan last August. I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely ready to leave the classroom for the working world, so I spent one Saturday each month participating in the Latino Talent Initiative through Ferris State University. I worked with a cohort of 16 other rising Latin@ leaders in our community on cultural awareness, professional development, leadership development, and civic engagement.
Beyond the professional and personal growth, the six month program was also an exciting opportunity to get to know the community and explore different social and systemic issues. Our cohort was innovative and not afraid to challenge each other on growing, thinking, and doing. We had the opportunity not only to learn from each other, but also to learn from other leaders in the community. The most meaningful experience for me was having the opportunity to talk with Mayor Rosalynn Bliss about ways to get involved in the community and run for office.
The Latino Talent Initiative provided me with the tools and support that I wanted as I began my career. I am grateful for the opportunity to develop a strong professional network that helps to strengthen not only my work with the Community Literacy Initiative at the Literacy Center, but the community as a whole.