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Eliana Penafiel: I learned the meaning of leadership at ECC

Eliana Penafiel

Eliana Penafiel, ECC graduating class of spring 2016

Being a leader and role model to other students at Elgin Community College has changed my life in many different ways. Due to my early involvement in the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, I had the opportunity to learn that other students were lacking the same motivation that I lacked at some point in my life.  It's very self-fulfilling to know that because of my advice and their persistence, their lives have been changed and paths to a successful academic career have been built.

Becoming a leader wasn't an easy process, as I still needed to master or acquire some abilities and skills. One of those skills was public speaking. Although it's true that I have never been shy when it comes to public speaking, my ideas were all over the place until I took a speech class with Professor Tim Anderson.

In speech class, I learned how to organize my speech for oral presentations in other classes. It also helped me throughout the year to become a more effective communicator with the student body that I currently lead in the Spartan Connection Mentoring Program.

My novel and film class got me to read more than I ever had in a semester and watch some amazing films. The experience opened my eyes to a very important tool, constructive criticism. Besides the fact I will never be able to watch a movie without looking for framings and details that might illuminate a deeper meaning, I can also apply that constructive criticism to everyday life situations like giving advice to a friend's school work or problem.

Helping people was one of the things that I enjoy the most, but I wouldn't have been able to without empathy. My psychology class helped me to understand the basics of where people come from. I'm referring to the parenting styles that the students have been raised on. As a mother myself, this had a huge effect because this class hasn't only made me a better mother, it made me a better friend to those who needed me the most. I can understand why someone might be shy or why they might be violent. Empathy creates an unbreakable trust bond between my mentees and me.

Last but not least, my ethics class that has been a blessing in my life. In my role as a leader, I come across multiple situations that require impartiality. This class has taught me great lessons like to limit altruism and also how to make decisions. What I learned in this class has been crucial during my last term as PTK vice president.

I acquired leadership skills and abilities that will help me to achieve my goals of obtaining my accounting bachelor's degree and a career in accounting. My mission of helping other students will still be present as I work to achieve those goals.

My role as vice president and honor student was a unique experience that not only benefited me, but also those lives that my actions impacted. It was an experience to feed my soul and my mind that at end became an opportunity to see that a gesture of kindness can change someone's life.

~ Eliana Penafiel 

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