(Photo Credit: The Millennial Spirit, Mount Mary University, June 2016)
By: Veronica Sanchez
I always identified as a millennial both by definition and in spirit (perhaps even before the term existed) —I do not have a problem with the association that this term can bring. I have always craved and searched for constant change and a high need for instant gratification, as my parents simply watched and prayed from the sidelines. They have no idea where I inherit these values that are so different than the boomers and x-ers they know. Little did they know back then ... That a similar and entire generation like me was on the rise, a generation equal in spirit and in values that would come together in the hearts of big cities.
These are the same cities that our parents had left behind for suburbia-two generations ago. In retrospect, I now realize that my wrestlings in life to arrive where I am today came deeply from the fact that I never cared to settle. Perhaps I did envision settlement, but not until I found what I was looking for. Here is my story or what I like to call, "My Perfect Millennial Storm."
Jonathan Arciniega is the Jr. Digital Media Intern for CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE Consulting. Currently, a Junior at Romeoville High School, Jonathan is on a path to graduate from high school early to begin preparing for his college career. He plans to work, save money, and attend Joliet Junior College in the Fall of 2018.
By: Jonathan Arciniega
I remember standing in the cold, crisp Chicago Christmas air across the street from Union Station thinking to myself, “Oh boy, this is going to be a long day.” I had the camera in my hands and raised it to my face to take a photo of the front of station. The camera was not my own. It was the camera of one of my future trainers and bosses, I just didn't know it yet.
My mother was a client of Ms. Alberty's and was invited to Operation Jesus, an event to feed the homeless in downtown Chicago. I first met Ms. Alberty, President and Founder of CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE and OPERATION JESUS, at a Pre-Packaging event where she asked me to take a few photos. After the event she saw the photos I took and offered me a chance to take photos downtown for Operation Jesus. I happily said yes to the offer and got myself prepared, but it was pretty clear that I was still a novice.
Santos Gutierrez knows a thing or two about college prep and success having worked at Lansing Community College as a high school recruiter, multicultural recruiter, customer relationship specialist and student success coach. Each position has helped him gain a deeper view into how to truly help students navigate college but no other experience has been as helpful as his very own second chance story. Above, Gutierrez, president of Alsame (Advocates of Latino Student Achievement of Michigan Education), speaks at Alsame's High School Conference at Signaw Valley State University.
By: Santos Gutierrez
I remember loading up the truck in the morning with a new type of excitement I hadn't felt before. I was the first in my family of five siblings to be accepted to go to college. I picked up my brother from work and we drove an hour and half to my new home, a dorm room on the campus of Eastern Michigan University. We moved my stuff inside and with a goodbye hug my brother drove off. Coming from a middle class family in Michigan, you'd think this was a typical scenario. But it wasn't. Not for me. I didn't have anyone to show me the ropes. Actually, looking back, I didn't know what I was doing. Fortunately, a seed was planted back then and thanks to the power of a second chance, I'm reaping the harvest on it and helping others.
Founded in 2012, Operation Jesus is a volunteer organization that provides food, clothing, and care to homeless men, women and children in Chicago. To date, Operation Jesus has mobilized over 300 volunteers and donors from all different backgrounds, and partnered with dozens of businesses and organizations to serve those in need (Photo credit: Jonathan Arciniega, CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE Jr. Media Digital Intern).
By: Linda E. Alberty, M.A.
The next time you think your vision, idea, or individual contribution is too small or too insignificant to impact change on any level, think again. We all have unique gifts and abilities that make us capable of walking in our purpose, and it is most often times connected to fulfilling a need around us. For me, it started back in December 2012. My heart always broke when I saw someone suffering from homelessness. And with the help of a few new friends, I decided to do something about it. We gathered sandwiches, cookies and blankets and piled in a car on Christmas Eve and headed toward downtown Chicago. Back then, it was a small, unorganized, and a chaotic attempt to make a difference.
Today, however, Operation Jesus now lives up to its name: a full operation in Chicago that has attracted and mobilized over 300 volunteers in and out of Illinois over five years. This Palm Sunday, I had the incredible opportunity to witness a miracle in the making: our very first Spring event, drawing another new 50 volunteers who found us online or through our partner organizations. But that's not all ...
That’s when I finally decided to move in a different direction in my approach thanks to my own self-talk and the recommendation of my mentor. I was referred to CULTIVATE EXCELLENCE at the end of December and looking back, I can say the process was more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.
By: Alicia Higgs, MBA
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By: Linda E. Alberty, M.A.
January can be a fun month for setting personal goals despite its chilling temperatures for those living in the Midwest. With the cold dreary month also comes a warm opportunity to reflect on all of our learnings from the year before. It’s a chance to set new goals, change old habits, build a new vision, and yes -- even treat ourselves! It’s newness gives us a chance to reset from the previous years’ circumstances and events and intentionally lean towards the things we desire for our lives.
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