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The Power of Failure: How I Became Valedictorian

The Power of Failure: How I Became Valedictorian

I began to live by a motto– one by my own creation– go to your fullest potential. This was something I would repeat to myself on a daily basis, beginning in middle school. Had to study for a test? I studied my hardest. About to compete in a badminton tournament? I never gave up any point, no matter how exhausted I was. Extra credit offered in Spanish class? I took it. No matter what happened, if I got a bad grade or if lost the badminton match, I was completely satisfied with the end result. Why? Because I knew I gave it my all.I began to live by a motto– one by my own creation– go to your fullest potential. This was something I would repeat to myself on a daily basis, beginning in middle school. Had to study for a test? I studied my hardest. About to compete in a badminton tournament? I never gave up any point, no matter how exhausted I was. Extra credit offered in Spanish class? I took it. No matter what happened, if I got a bad grade or if lost the badminton match, I was completely satisfied with the end result. Why? Because I knew I gave it my all.

Upon reflecting on this motto, I have come to the realization that this motto has helped me attain the position of valedictorian of my high school class. Growing up, I never considered myself a “genius” or brilliant in one subject. In fact, I actually struggled a lot in math class. Despite all that, I was a hard worker. Like I mentioned above, I would always do the extra credit if offered, even if my grade was above 100. If I felt iffy on a topic in any of my classes, I would stay after and ask a lot of questions. No matter the class, math or english, I always studied for a test, always. So, if I received the test back and got a low score, I knew it was not because I did not study, it was because I genuinely did not know the answer. I mean I was my class valedictorian, so it was rare to receive anything lower than a C, especially because I always studied in advance, but that just reinforces the power of my motto.

Currently, I am a peer mentor for Teen Innovators. This program truly teaches teens to go to their fullest potential. The mentorship we offer causes teens to become inspired and invested in their pitch, so much so that sometimes they do not even realize they are giving it their all. We help teens reach their full potential by validating their ideas and by helping them unlock new ideas from their personal experience or through research. Hopefully, this powerful trait that teen innovators helps the youth to acquire, can be carried on into academics or extracurriculars. Who knows, maybe the next future valedictorian or all-state athlete will emerge from this program.

by one of Teen Innovators’ peer, Nellie.

Better Together

Better Together

My first mentors, like most people, were my parents. From them, I have learned countless life lessons, but more importantly, they have taught me the value in relationships. I’ve learned that us humans truly need one another to succeed, and no technology can serve as an adequate substitute to a mentor. However, I did not previously have the same thoughts regarding mentorship as I do now. Before I had any professional mentors of my own, my honest and uneducated image of a one was that they would be someone wiser and significantly more successful than me whose purpose would be to lecture me on the secrets of life! With this narrow vision about mentors, I was wary to connect with others because I’ve never loved listening to formal talks from people whom I barely know. Yes, this initial image of a mentor was seriously skewed and, through time, I came to the conclusion that there was, in reality, no greater way to attain my goals than to use my network and seek the support that I needed to grow and succeed.

I have always been the type of person who does copious research before pursuing anything, whether if it’s for a new professional endeavour or just for something in my student workload. In either case, my biggest breakthrough moments have always been results from conversations with my mentors. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not nearly as successful with the suggested Google search results as I am with a person whose purpose is to help guide me and give suggestions to things that I would have never thought of. Honestly, any time I talk with my mentors, I learn something. It’s not always a breakthrough moment, but there has never been a useless conversation. Whether the takeaway is that I learn something new about them or something new about myself, when both people put in the time and effort, the relationship never stops benefiting both sides. I always aim to be a sponge during these meetings and absorb the knowledge that these great people give me, but it becomes difficult to remember it all. In order to not forget a memorable lesson, I write it down! On my phone, I keep a running note filled with many bits of wisdom from different people who said something that once sparked an interesting idea in my brain.

From time to time, I will go back and look at all the nuggets of wisdom that I’ve gathered from these extraordinary people. I thought that I’d share one of these little lessons, You don’t need to wake up one morning and be great, but you need to commit yourself to becoming just a little better every time. A little bit more effort every time adds up in the long run. This is something that stood out to me during a conversation I had with a mentor when we were talking about how to know if you’re making progress in life… Because with this new age of technology, everything moves so fast. Oftentimes, from the perspective that I have on my devices, it seems like greatness is achieved overnight, and no media platform shows mistakes or failures. While in reality, I’ve learned from every one of my mentors that the idea of failure is essential in the process of success. I sometimes still forget about the usefulness of failure because of the filter of perfection that I see that’s laid over every post, article, and status update.

What started as a small personal network that consisted of only my mom and dad has turned into a growing tree of connections. I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with those who aren’t so similar to me because that is how I believe that we all grow. By pushing the comfort zone, we allow ourselves to explore ideas and thoughts that may have never come to us alone. Through my mentorships, I’ve been able to learn about rejection and failure while simultaneously understanding how to better incorporate creativity, critical thinking, and an inquisitive mindset towards everything that I do. Mentorship is critical in both career and personal development because it fosters a non-competitive and supportive relationship that is a rarity today in most industries. Everyone has the capacity for greatness but those who truly succeed are the ones who utilize the minds of those around them.

by Eden Kavanagh ’21, recently pitched her business plan at the LA TanK Takes NYC through Loyola Academy.

The Sea of Change is Unstoppable

The Sea of Change is Unstoppable

The world has had to pause and reflect. For many, we are noticing the impact of climate change.

For example, people in India saw the Himalayas for the first time in decades, as the lockdown eases air pollution. Images like these reminds us of the beauty and abundance of our world.

2019 was a banner year for sustainability. And at Elevate Packaging, another record-setting year as brands eliminated even more toxic plastics from landfill waste, and switched to soil-enriching compostables.

We have made progress in raising awareness about our collective responsibility to our planet. We know things are shifting because more brands care, behaviors are changing, local communities are taking action, and students are speaking up (Go Greta Thunberg!).

Yet, even with the progress made to date, there remains a significant need for collaboration and alignment of all stakeholders to create an effective national composting system value chain.

We have much more than hope; We have action, and the sea of change is unstoppable!

 

by Rich Cohen, founder of Elevate Packaging, member of USCC (US Compost Council) and founding member of The Corporate Compost Leadership Council

Even In The Darkest Hours Come Some Of The Brightest Innovations

Even In The Darkest Hours Come Some Of The Brightest Innovations

A man named Forrest watched as soldiers snacked on chocolate pellets during the Spanish Civil War in 1938. He noticed something interesting: the pellets were coated in a hard shell so that the chocolate wouldn’t melt in the warm weather.

Several years later, he introduced M&M’s. He named the candy after himself, Forrest Mars, and his company co-founder, William Murrie. During World War II, M&M’s were sold exclusively to the military since they were easy to transport and fun to consume. Since we first heard about M&M’s over 79 years ago, the candy now brings in $500 million annually.

We’re having a hard go of things these days thanks to the coronavirus. For teenagers, we understand that they just lost almost a year of real learning, in-person friendship experiences, and memories from their extracurricular activities. It’s a time to mourn, to regroup, to reorganize, and to appreciate.

It’s also a time to keep your eyes peeled. You never know what sensational ideas may come out of these strange times.

by Jill Salzman, Founder of The Founding Moms, Professional Speaker, Author, and Co-Host of the Breaking Down Your Business Podcast