You’ve got this Fellows. Live Your Legacy.

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Guadalupe Ruiz, Spring '18 Fellow at National Louis UniversityBy: Guadalupe Ruiz, Spring ’18 Fellow at National Louis University.


My name is Lupe Ruiz and I am a proud member of Braven’s first class of Fellows at National Louis University. I’m also a Sophomore studying Early Childhood Education. At the beginning of this year, I made a commitment to myself that I would focus on improving my skills. I knew that if I wanted to be successful, I would need to work extremely hard to chase after my dreams. That’s exactly why I enrolled at National Louis University and why I am proud to be a Braven Fellow.


You see, I was born in Puebla, Mexico and came to the United States when I was just one year old. I actually don’t have many memories of Mexico but I have so many great memories of my time growing up in the Bronx and here in Chicago. So many of those memories are of my parents who have worked extremely hard in pursuit of the American Dream.


My parents came from very humble beginnings and arrived here because they knew that America was the land of opportunity. They knew that with hard work and ambition, you could dream big and make big things happen. That’s exactly what they wanted for me and my five siblings.


Chasing after your dreams and seeking opportunity is not always easy. So many of us here know this through firsthand experience. For quite some time when I was little, we didn’t have a roof over our head. We lived in our car, many times driving from park to park so that we wouldn’t get in trouble. My home was the back seat of my mom’s truck. I remember being six years old and driving around with my mom in her pick-up truck where we’d collect metals. I remember my brother and I getting out and collecting soda cans. We would stomp on them to flatten them and then sell the metal and take the extra money until eventually, we were able to save for an apartment.

To me, this is such a clear example of the drive that you need to have in order to succeed. It’s about not letting your present situation define your future. It’s about seeing your present situation as an opportunity to shift your future. Hopefully for the better.


That desire to be better is why I joined Braven. I wanted to improve myself and gain more skills. I also wanted to improve my communication skills. Before joining Braven, I was usually the quiet one — the student who was too shy to participate. I knew I had a voice. I knew I had things to say, but I was afraid to do so. I didn’t have the confidence. Braven has changed that. In Braven, I had no choice but to communicate and become a better public speaker. Before, I used to get so nervous because I stutter a lot. I wanted to be a part of an activity that would allow me to learn the skills to be a professional.


I remember walking into National Louis University back in January and getting so scared when I saw how many students were a part of the Braven Fellowship. I knew that I’d be in a group of people that had different career interests, I was not sure if I would be able to do this.


I was excited to meet my cohort AND my Leadership Coach – Jessica Tansey. Jessica is so amazing. She has helped me in so many ways. She’s almost like a mother figure. She quickly became someone I could talk to and someone that could mentor me. She listened to me and reminded me that I was not alone. She always encouraged me to follow my instincts and what I believe. When I doubted myself, she always said “You got this.”


Tonight, I’d like to tell all my Fellows that “you’ve got this.” Even though sometimes you might experience challenges, even though sometimes you might feel like giving up. Even though sometimes you might get annoyed at all the emails the Braven team likes to send, YOU’VE. GOT. THIS. and WE’VE. GOT. THIS.


We are now part of a community of people who want to succeed. Part of living your legacy is about recognizing that others paved the path for us and so now we must do it for others. Part of us working so hard is so that we can reach our fullest potential and be the next generation of leaders. For me, that means going back to my community to be an early childhood educator. I want to teach and help the next generation of little girls and boys. I want to inspire them to dream big and to work hard for the American Dream.


Tonight, I celebrate all the Fellows for your hard work! I celebrate you for taking a risk and being a part of Braven. This is just one of many more steps we’ll need to take to continue on a path to success. Luckily, Braven will be there to support us every step of the way. Thank you, Coaches, for supporting us and mentoring us. Thank you, Jessica, for believing in my potential. Thank you for paving a way for me and others like me.


Fellows — I hope tonight inspires you to continue to work hard and to chase after your dreams. I hope you take the skills you have learned at Braven in order to continue on your path toward an even better future. Thank you.

Guadalupe Ruiz, Spring '18 Fellow at National Louis University