From Passion to Action: De la Pasion a la Accion

One of the most gratifying experiences I had during my college years at Baruch was PorColombia. People like to underestimate the power of doing something you love, just because you love it and you believe in it. PorColombia for me was exactly that. My PorColombia story is certainly not unique, since a lot of its members I am 100% sure feel the same way as I do, none the less one of the best things about walking down memory lane is to think about those great times, this is what this post is about.

It was my first week at Baruch after transferring from Queens College where I studied my freshman year. Walking through the crowd of people going to class I spotted one guy wearing a typical colombian “mochila”…I saw him and thought “oh look there is a Colombian”, since apparently we have that magic gift of just knowing who is Colombian and who is not. I made my way to the cafeteria and there was a table to over 20 people, all loudly talking in Spanish and I felt as I had found my place, I went home and told my mom about the many Colombians I saw at Baruch and how I was going to make my way into that table, because lets face it, it was the best table you could potentially be sitting at. I made friends with the mochila guy, who very charismatically told me about PorColombia, their vision, goals and drive and invited me to attend the club meeting so that I could join.

My first PorColombia meeting: total fail, or at least that is what I thought at the moment. Two months later, I was fully invested, six months in I was the chapter VP, then became president, to finally move towards the national league to be the National Vice Present, and Marketing Director. If PorColombia was a company, it was safe to say that I had managed to move up the “ladder” with hard work and dedication and become one of its leaders.

We became PorColombia’s four pillars: Academic, Social, Philanthropic, and Cultural…..We planned and executed national student and professional conferences with attendance of over 200 people, redesigned two websites, launched our very own web video series called PCTV, helped over 500 kids in Colombia with donations in cities such as Medellin, Manizales, Barranquilla and Bogota. When I think back to all of these accomplished things, I tell my best friend who was the leader of the group a.k.a”la presi” that I can’t believe we got so much done, all purely and entirely done out of love and passion. One of the more exciting projects for me was the redesign and launch party of our new branded website — it took us about 3 months, limited resources, a lot of late nights but we managed to launch a functional website, that was fully produced in house (design, development and content), with tracking, and all the functionality needed to become the center of information for Colombian Students abroad.

What did I learned with PorColombia? Why do I hold it so close to my heart and will be one of the best experiences I could have been exposed to? My top ten below…

  1. My first two jobs in the professional world came about thanks to my PorColombia network — a referral goes a long way.
  2. Learned the value of working towards a greater good as a team from a young age.
  3. Connected and met incredible and inspiring people that were changing the face of Colombia and made us so proud. Networking is important, but not as important as connecting with people over a common interest.
  4. The lack of resources is not necessarily a bad thing — you learn to work with what you have at hand, the lack of resources can become resource of value because you learn to make the most with what you have.
  5. Passion and drive go hand in hand — our motto was “from passion to action” there is no other way to get things done.
  6. Also..Colombians can be very passionate, which could lead to arguments.
  7. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, but always respecting your team.
  8. Working on a cause that you care about is one of the most rewarding things you can do. I remember getting home after a long day working and going to school, to work on PorColombia related tasks. We dedicated countless weekends, and Friday nights (followed by the necessary chisme at the Baruch Cafeteria) but I would not change it for anything. The many times people would say “you are not making money out of this, why are doing this?” I would reply with a smile and say “because it’s important to me and it makes me happy”
  9. The teachings that comes from living in a academic, philanthropic, social and cultural environment stay with you and shape who you become as an young professional. You develop a sense of wonder for your own culture and others, learn to give back, value the importance of an education and strive to always improve yourself and be better and all of that while having fun, and networking.
  10. I made the greatest and most dearest of friends who are still my support system, whom I share great laughs, trips, random nights, crazy parties, career advise, weddings, and major life decisions — thank you all for being there for me, and for sharing your lives with me.

Gracias PorColombia :)