Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's All About the Community!

Hello,

Summer is almost gone and with Fall semester just around the corner a question remains: what have I done this summer? For the most part I had no really exciting events to report, but I did have some meaningful experiences that I believe are worth even more. 

This summer I completed my internship requirement for graduation. The selection process was not particularly easy; given the number of internship opportunities available to the school, choosing "the" one was kind of hard. I had to chose between staying at my current position and use it as my internship, get a new position with a corporate finance company or work with a non-profit organization. I decided to volunteer with the 9th West Farmers Market, formally known as People's Market. 

Currently, the farmers market is struggling to keep their operations alive and they could not afford the expenses to contract an outside accountant and bookkeeper. I decided to continue with my current position, while working after hours with the farmers market. I am determined to do everything within my reach to help this wonderful group of people attain their goals. The 9th West Farmers Market was found more than 10 years ago, making it one of the first farmers markets available in the area. Ever since their foundation it has experienced some ups and downs, like most businesses they had been force to adapt to changing times and methods of operations. Is the lack or delay of proper adapting changes that created the crisis that the market is facing today. 

So what have I done for them and why? From the get go I notice that all their finances had not been carefully followed, so a new accounting information systems was implemented to create some order among their in and out cash flows. This was a crucial step for the market since it opened the discussion on the future of the market as a non-profit in Utah based on the limited resources available to them at the moment. Additionally, I realized that the board of directors was constituted by passionate vendors who, unfortunately lack expertise on management and marketing. However, the lack of expertise is not the biggest of the issues among the board members but the inconstancy on the share vision and mission for the market. I wrote my proposal on what I believe should be the market's mission statement and values, in hopes to unify the board's efforts.

During this whole process I learned many valuable lessons that, I believe I wouldn't been able to get any where else. For example, I have never work for an organization where increasing revenue while decreasing expenses were not priority number one. My work the farmers market proved to be of great significance because success is not being measured in a dollar amount but in the quality of contribution that we can offer to our community. Another example was the opportunity to work with an organization facing dissolution; it has been an amazing learning experience since all the work that we do can literally be the difference between keep running the market or seeing it disappear. All in all it has been a great experience, and although the fate of the market still unclear, I am still determined to do as much as I can to see it successfully contribute to our community. 

As result of my summer internship and the previous Delta Mu Delta Board Match event I decided to take a position in the board as the Treasurer. I hope that I can benefit the 9th West Farmers Market in any way possible. Whether the market continues to offer our community a place where local farmers and artisans can freely and securely sell their goods or the board decide it is not viable to keep the market running for future years. Even if the market's fate determines that closure is needed, I don't regret my decision to help an organization that has brought service to the Greater Salt Lake Area for so many years.

Thank for checking in, I hope you had a great summer and you are ready to start Fall semester. Make it the best you can!  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Oh Mexico!

Hello,

Today I've decided to write about my recent trip to my home country and the wonderful experience I had while traveling through the roads of Mexico. Although, I felt somehow out of place while visiting Mexico, due to the fact that I have spent most of my adult life in the US, I cannot deny my pride and love for my cultural heritage. 

For those of you out there who think Mexico is only a field full of drug dealers and unspeakable violence I have bad news; Mexico overflows with ancient traditions and cultures while offering breathtaking scenery and magical places to visit. That is why I decided to show some of the hidden Mexico that has yet to be recognized by the overwhelming international media. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Before we can start you should know that Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (official name of the country) has a total of 32 different states and a federal district (Mexico City.) Each state possess its unique culture(s) and distinctive traditions, attires and foods. In addition to Spanish the Mexican government officially recognizes 68 different indigenous dialects (but many others are spoken among smaller populations) 

Lets get started with my home town: Mexico City. the first picture is from the Palacio de Bellas Artes (the Palace of the Beautiful Arts) where you can enjoy worldwide known classical concerts and art expositions. The next picture is a night shoot at an iconic building in the heart of Mexico City: La Torre Panamericana. The last picture is another iconic feature of Mexico city; el Angel de la Indepedencia (the Independence Angel) and the place where I celebrated Mexico's classification to the next round in the soccer world cup ; )





Next one of my favorite states in the country; Chiapas. First is the Canon del Sumidero, followed by Cascadas de Agua Azul and finally some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins: Palenque. 




Now some people may say that the following pictures were taken in Holland, Russia or Spain; well ladies and gentlemen this is Mexico! The first picture is Monclova in the state of Coahuila. The next picture is from the state of Chihuahua and lastly the Cathedral in San Miguel de Allende in the beautiful state of Guanajuato. 




I hope you guys can see by now that Mexico has lots to offer to the world, and that these amazing places deserve a little more attention. The following pictures are more examples of the natural beauty that Mexico offers. The first picture is from Tlalmanalco in the state of Mexico. Followed by the bay at the state of Tampico. Finally the picture of Hierve el Agua in the State of Oaxaca, where I spent most of my vacation, this picture shows petrified waterfalls.  




After 3 years since my last visit, I had the chance to visit Mexico and experience some of its beauty. Although, I am really proud of my roots and I actively try to preserve them I couldn't help to feel like a stranger in my country. As mentioned before I have spend most of my adult life in the US and I believe it is safe to say that I am use to the quiet and peaceful life that Utah offers me. As soon as I reached Mexico city with its 20 Million people trying to coexist in the same space I felt overwhelmed. After some traveling around I found myself in the State of Oaxaca and the bays of Huatulco. 

Even though the heat was extremely humid, Huatulco was undoubtedly the most relaxing part of my trip with my young family. We enjoy a beautiful place full with beautiful and kind people who enjoyed showing us around and let us know the best hidden secrets that the small town of Santa Maria Huatulco had to offer; from the best best food to the most wonderful virgin-areas where we had the chance to enjoy pristine nature. Here are some of the pictures we took while in Huatulco, Oaxaca (BTW I would recommend this place to anybody.)












It is amazing how much we, sometimes, take for granted the style of life we can enjoy here in the US. I feel thankful for the many blessings we receive. I don't only mean 60" flat screens in our homes or a nice car to drive to school/work; I mean the possibility to afford such things, the fact that we can have clean water and good food at our tables. This trip helped me to realize how fortunate I am to be in a country where freedom is for everyone and not something only a few can truly enjoy. A country where freedom means we are free to build ourselves to be the best version of us. 

It was a great time but now is time to get back and focus on getting ready for my Fall semester and my senior year. I hope you guys are having a blast this summer be safe out there! 

*The credit to some of the pictures goes to the internet (really to those who shoot them) since in some cases I didn't have a decent enough picture of my own.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Summer Here We Come!

Greetings,

During the past year I heard tons of comments about what Westminster College call "the May term", let me explain it a little. As you know most schools will have Fall, Spring and Summer terms; well at Westminster there is an extra mini-term that takes place in the month of May (right after Spring and before Summer semesters) where non-traditional classes are taught. 

I have pointed out that, in my opinion, Westminster is really all about the opportunities they can offer you in order to excel your college experience as a whole. The May term is another example of how this is true to many students here; the classes are worth 2 credits and are applicable towards your total credit hours needed for graduation. During this mini-term you get to choose between taking classes in a traditional classroom or travel abroad to amazing locations and study while enjoying the trip. Either way the classes taught are not a traditional serious class but a more creative and entertaining version of it. From learning to brew your beer to travel to Germany and study the psychology behind the Nazi movement, you are sure to find a class/trip that appeal to your interests. 

Anyway, I decided to take a class this May term and see for myself. I needed a finance elective and I wanted it to be meaningful to my professional career; so I took a class on raising money for new businesses, it was not so much on the funny or creative side but it was definitely worth the time and effort.  It was really nice, I have the opportunity to develop the early stages of a business that I would like to  create and not only that; I know now the different venues I can use to raise the capital to see it happening. It was truly an experience that allow me to realized my potential to be an entrepreneur.

In essence we were encourage to identify a problem or a need and then to design what we believe would be a good solution. I believe that you are more likely to succeed if you have a passion for your cause because that passion will drive your actions. As I was thinking about a business that I would like to create, I knew I wanted to be a business with a purpose beyond making a profit and reducing my costs; I wanted to matter for me and for the community that I live in. That is how The Perky Tails Project came to be. 

Last year alone 12,000 dogs and cats were killed in the state of Utah alone. In so many cases these animals were killed because they were not able be place in a permanent home, and in most cases this was simply due to lack of proper training. That is why I decided to work on Perky Tails - Training for Life; a dog training business dedicated to train dog owners to properly adapt to every change a dog will experience as it matures. In addition my ideal business will work with local shelters to provide free corrective training for dogs that have been adopted  and returned  to the shelter in hopes to avoid unnecessary deaths. We would also offer affordable dog grooming to the public and free grooming to the shelters in hope to raise the number of dogs that are saved every year. 

Today I had the opportunity to present my business pitch to my class (as if I were to present to possible investors), it was truly amazing how a simple idea got to be a solid business projection. During my time presenting I was able to foresee what could be an actual business in my future. I put a lot of work into the financial projections to make it accurate and doable but also realistic. It was during this stage that I realized the potential that this venture possess. I believe it is worth the risk to see where can I take my project now!

I don't have much to share but here is my proposed logo.

After an amazing time in this class, I am getting ready to properly receive summer. I can't wait to travel to my home country and enjoy: the company of my family, breathtaking views of the beaches and the feel of the white sand on my feet!

I just ended an amazing academic year and I look forward to the next Fall semester where I will be starting my senior year! I hope you all have a great summer too, and stay safe out there!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Semester is Gone!

Hello,

This semester was a crazy one but it was full of valuable lessons and now - that all my finals, projects, assignments, presentation and papers are over - I can sit and acknowledge my personal development thought these lessons. 

Westminster has proven to be an amazing source of great opportunities for me as a student who is constantly seeking professional development and career advancing. It is incredible how many different things happened in only four months, and it is even more incredible how many things will happen in the near future just because of these past four months. I am sure this is true for all my fellow students who are facing a time of changes and personal growth as they continue their education.

As I looked back I feel humble to realize everything that took place; here is why I think this semester rocked:

  1. I was able to designed my own B.S. degree -  after realizing that I will not be able to utilize all the accounting classes and that by taking such classes I would be adding a whole semester I looked into the possibility of designed my own degree by taking the best of the accounting and finance majors. I never knew this was a possibility and I have never heard of anything like it anywhere else, but I am certainly thankful with my advisors as they help me to outline what is best for my future goals while using the available academic curricula to help me get there!
  2. I participated on the "Take a griffin to lunch" program - this program matches current students with successful Westminster's alumni providing an opportunity for us, students, to talk with somebody who is currently working in the same (of familiar) field the student is planning to build a career. I was matched with a young alumni who has develop a professional path in finance and we became friends (Networking!!!)
  3. Scored two of the best advisors ever -  during my junior year I was required to formally declare my major and I discovered that I could decide who would serve as my advisor. After talking with some different professors I got Dara Hoffa as my accounting advisor and Lauren Lo Re as my finance advisor and I couldn't be happier with them. They have been attentive and supportive to me personal goals and objectives, I can really say that for them it is all about me! 
  4. Participated on the Delta Mu Delta Board Match event -  this year the Gore School of Business and the Delta Mu Delta organization got together to provide an opportunity for local non-profit organizations to search and possibly select board members from the student body at Westminster College. I knew I wanted to get involved and I knew I wanted to utilize my learned skills in finance and accounting, so I interviewed with a couple of non-profits who were looking for board members within these areas. I was offered to become the treasurer for the 9th West Farmer's Market. 
  5. After my participation in the "Take a griffin to lunch" program I learned about the "Alumni Mentoring Program"; which is basically the same idea of connecting current students with successful alumni but at a bigger scale. After interviewing with the selection committee I was selected to participate in this program. As mention before this program evolves at a bigger scale, where the Alumni or mentor develops a professional relationship with the student throughout the Fall and Spring semester. I can wait to start!
  6. Last but certainly not least I had the opportunity to develop more friendships with students around campus, this semester I had the opportunity to participate in two intramural sport events. I play volleyball with some friends from the indoor volleyball club during a 4 week tournament open to anybody who likes to play volleyball. We won first place! Then I participated in the beach volleyball tournament and although my partner and me were eliminated in our second game it was a good experience that allowed me get involve deeper into the campus life. 
In my opinion this semester was full of great opportunities and it was a huge continuous learning experience. I strongly believe that academic knowledge is not everything I am supposed to take from my time in college. It is "a" college - and everything that it encircles - experience after all. I can wait to start my senior year and face the new opportunities that it will bring to my life. I hope y'all have a great summer and be safe out there!  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creating a Campus Community!

Hello there!

It has been a while since the last time I had a chance to stop by and write about what is going on here at Westminster College. 

A couple weeks back I receive an invitation to participate on a little marketing research to determine the college's strengths that should be the focus of the advertisement campaigns. Anyway, among many different discussed topics we talked about how inclusive is our campus and the sense of community that can be found across the college. At first I was hesitant to say that I felt like we were an inclusive community. However, after careful evaluation of my current situation and acknowledging the many good relationships that I have developed on these two semesters, I have to say: I have found my place in our community. 

Now, why is this important to the marketing company? and even more why should this be important to all of us? Well, everybody is looking to belong somewhere; that is the very reason why we chose friends, activities and relationships. We need to feel like we belong! This couldn't be more important, in a completely primary level the sense of community is one of our basic needs as human beings and a major factor in determining our attitudes and personal trials as we evolve and mature. 

During our time as students we are expected to prepare ourselves to provide society with the best of our service in whatever area we chose to develop. I believe it is not possible to achieve this goal if we do not enjoy our time making mistakes and killing ourselves trying to fix these mistakes. I believe that being part of a close community is a great part of enjoying our time as students. Think about it in this way, no matter our choices today (good or not as good) they are OUR decisions, and no matter what we will never have the chance to take the same decision on the exact same situation and time ever again. We don't know what will happen in 10, 5 or 1 year from now, even more we don't even know what will happen 15 minutes from now. So we might as well be with the people we like, in the place we belong while not knowing what the future will bring to us!

This open the discussion to two dilemmas; first, how do I find my place on this large community? And second, how do I make sure everyone else feels like they can belong if they choose to? Finding our place in a larger community is not as complicated, it all comes down to determine who we are and what we like to do. For me I am a transfer student who really love to play volleyball. I've played VB for years and when I transfer here I learned about the indoor VB club. I decided I would gave it a try and soon enough I was part or a community of people who share the love for the game as much as I do; eventually I developed good relationships with some of the students who attend to the games. I would say this; being part of a community begins with you. 

Finally, I believe we are responsible to ensure everybody has the chance to find their place in our community. It is true that we can't force anybody to enjoy the things that we like; however I believe it is our duty to ensure that everyone is free to express what they like in hopes to find mind-like people to develop friendships and build communities. That is our responsibility, and as long as we continue to do that we can see our large community evolve and grow while new smaller communities are built and create. 

I hope we can all relate and keep in mind our first times on campus while we tried to find our place. I hope we all had people who were willing and open to accept who we were. And I hope we become the people who accepts and invites new comers to open themselves to this amazing campus community!  



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Time for Change.

Hi there!

I said before that this semester is being a crazy one, however I didn't even know how crazy it would end up being! I reached a point in my education where I needed to ask myself what is going to happen? where I want to be? but most importantly, how in the world I am going to make it happen?

Well, I am not 100% sure yet, but I want to believe that I am taking the right steps towards my goals. My dilemma started when I realized that I have been trying to complete a double major in Finance (my area of interest) and Accounting but I didn't have a clear plan for once I completed them. So I asked myself what I would like to be doing in 3 years, 5 years and 10 years form now? and to my surprise none of the possible scenarios included me doing accounting work. I always knew that I wanted to complete my BS in Accounting to have it as background for my career, and I believe that all I need is to know a bit more than the basics to achieve what I want. Therefore, I decided to complete only my Finance degree since I have already taken more than the basics in Accounting and, if I wan to be honest, all I want is to be done with school ASAP!

At this point and thanks to my decision I am only two semesters away to achieve my BS in Finance and hopefully to start and new stage in my life. Now is all about planning ahead and make sure I can meet the requirements for graduation in time. I am excited about what is coming and knowing that is only two semesters away makes me feel a rush, I wan to be done but I also want to be ready to face what comes next. So far my life has been pretty straight forward, I woke up everyday knowing that I want to be a good student and learn as much as possible, and although I have held different employment positions, school has been always my priority. Soon that is going to change; work and family life will be on top of everything and that is a scary thought, all the sudden I am not longer bound to the school expectations and the world and its "endless" opportunities are open to me; but a questions will undoubtedly rise: now what? 

I read somewhere that an average college student will change his/her major at least 6 times during the duration of their studies. I can see now how is that possible, as you mature your plans and your ambition for the future matures with you and even more you identity is expose in the same process. You start wandering who you are and who you want to be; plus the exposure to different subjects helps you to determine the area where you can feel you will succeed in life. This is exactly what happened to me; I was determined to complete both programs Accounting and Finance, but then while taking my Corporate Income Taxation class I realized that I don't love accounting enough to go through the pain to learn about the complex tax system and code that we have in the US. It was a wake up call and help me defined my path, so I couldn't be more grateful. 

So there you have it, the story of how I change my plans, major and deadlines. I hope you guys can see that a drastic change is not always a bad thing and it could sometimes be the right call. So, don't be afraid to explore your options while you are here in school. If there was a time and place to make mistakes it would be now and it would be here, because once this window we call college is close, is close for good and we are left to face the consequences of our choices in the "real" world. For now I am glad I had the opportunity to have so many people on campus willing and ready to help and provide me advise based on what is best for me and what I want.

Keep up the good work, we are almost half way through the semester and good luck to y'all with your midterm exams!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Crazy Semester!

Hello,

It has been a crazy yet rewarding semester so far, and we have not even reach the half-semester mark! As I have mentioned in the past I am a transfer student to Westminster College currently on my second semester of my double major (accounting and finance) degree. Last semester I finished all my lower division remaining classes and this semester I was ready to face the upper division classes needed in my degrees; or so I thought. 

True is that I was not even sure how to begin to plan my current semester, let alone the upcoming semesters. I knew that I needed to find some kind of guidance; I just didn't know where to look. Following my previous experience at other colleges I supposed I would need to find an individual who will advise in many different areas or majors and hope that he or she would know what to do. However, since I am in my junior year I was told that I needed to find a professor within my own majors to be my advisor. This is great, you can't imagine how many times in the past I wished I could talk to someone who studied the exact same things that I am studying and share my plans and ask my questions knowing that he or she would certainly know where I was coming from and be more likely to offer useful counsel. 

So after an excruciating search for great advsiors I was able to score two of the best professors in the Gore School of Business. Now why are they great advisors? and how to take the most out of your academic experience at Westminster College? On my opinion they serve as great advisors for several reason, being the most important of them: keep the student's best interest first. Let me give you an example, I can honestly said that I had a pretty simple and easy transfer process to Westminster College however there were a couple classes that I took before as lower division classes that didn't replace the "same" upper division classes at Westminster. So I talked with my accounting advisor and after reviewing in detail that the classes content and my level of knowledge was equivalent to the classes offered here I was able to receive credit for the classes that I took before. This is to me a great example of my advisor putting my best interest first, she knew that this would help me to graduate faster and it would save me some money. 

How to make the best out of your academic experience at Westminster? This is something that I am still learning, however I have catch a thing or two. Finding a good advisor that meet your needs is crucial if you wish to succeed in your role as student and if you wish to be ready for your professional career after graduation. Although, having a great advisor is not everything, you must do your part by speaking your mind, asking your questions and expressing your plans and ideas. I have learned that a big portion of the prestige and good reputation that is given to Westminster College is due to its faculty and their efforts to see the students succeed by going the extra mile to ensure the students understand the concepts, find the best path to achieve their goals and take advantage of all the opportunities available to them. So there you have it, find a good advisor and don't be afraid to communicate with your advisor.

To conclude today's post I want to share with you one of the most amazing concepts that a professor could explain to me as of why she puts so much effort to ensure we do great in her class. She said "today you are my student, tomorrow you are my peer and I must make sure you go out as an outstanding professional." You can't find that kind of commitment in just any college, I am just glad I can find here and now!