Thursday, December 5, 2013

"The Experience of a Lifetime"

By Kristi Hazama, Cohort 8

Last spring, I had returned from Japan where I taught English for two years.  Feeling motivated and hopeful, I was eager to return to the higher education field and felt excited about the new possibilities.  Immediately, I began submitting resumes and online applications and started researching job opportunities.   Week after week, I remained optimistic, anticipating the phone call that would change my life forever.  However, as time passed, I heard from absolutely no one.  The silence was deafening; the utter lack of response was quite distressing.  And slowly my spirits started to decline.  I wondered if I would ever find a job. 

Around June, a family friend mentioned LA Fellows.  I was hesitant about pursuing this opportunity, thinking I’d receive a job offer soon enough.  But deep down, I was simply afraid.  LA Fellows would be a step out of my comfort zone, teaching me to take a more proactive approach to my job search. 

I decided to attend the final mandatory orientation, albeit still with much reluctance.  But throughout the orientation, I knew there was something different and unique about LA Fellows.  By the end of the morning, I knew this would be the experience of a lifetime.

LA Fellows was indeed, a life changing experience. 

I gained a new level of confidence in my skills and as I rediscovered this confidence, I also gained more clarity into my professional interests and values.  And while this newfound confidence and clarity through LA Fellows was a huge personal win, I am most grateful for the camaraderie among my colleagues in cohort 8. LA Fellows is so unique because it connects people from different educational, professional and life experiences.  I learned a great deal from my cohort, and their support was absolutely incredible.
Also, I was helped personally and professionally through the LA Fellows’ volunteer experience.  My hours were completed at the ALS Association, which focuses on the fight to defeat Lou Gehrig’s disease.  It was an incredible experience as we hosted a number of “Walks to Defeat ALS” to raise awareness and funds in the fight to defeat this debilitating disease.  I had the privilege of collaborating with the Walk Directors; we focused on outreach to donors, coordinated with volunteers, oversaw the logistical planning. Volunteering was such a fulfilling experience as you build relationships with people in the organization and make a contribution in a meaningful way. 

I would not be where I am today without LA Fellows.  It truly has been a precious gift, one that keeps on giving.
Kristi with Danny Syto and Jennifer Garcia, graduates of Cohort 8

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