Failure Competition #3 starts Today

Our Failure Competition Starts Today

If you were at our Hall of Fame Event a few weeks ago, you saw a video featuring one of our honorees, Mayor Ken Bradley who is also CEO of Florida Hospital, Winter Park. The video starts out with Ken saying the following: “I came to UCF as a failure and left a success.” Ken had seen his dream to enter medical school dashed, but found his future at UCF. He has gone on to great things. His achievements landed him in our Hall of Fame, a place where only 61 of our more than 50,000 alums have been recognized for their accomplishments.

Despite what helicopter parents think, everyone fails. It is part of life. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful business leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the third installment of our Failure Competition in the College’s Capstone Class. I will be explaining the details of this semester’s competition to students today at 1:30 pm. But the basics are pretty simple:

1. Each student in our capstone class is asked to write an essay on a failure they have experienced, how it transformed them, and what others can learn from their experience.

2. They are to post these essays in response to this blog along with the section number and name of their instructor. They must complete this exercise by 5 pm on March 14th.

3. Each instructor will then choose a winner from their section and explain why they chose the essay they did.

4. Those winning entries are then sent to me. I will select three or four finalists.

5. The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. They must have those videos to me by March 28th at 5 pm.

6. I will then feature one video each day on my blog the week of March 31st, with a vote taking place on Friday April 4th.

7. The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 cash prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200.

We have had as many as 800 voters for the past competitions. With the help of the alumni association, I expect we will have at least that many this semester. If you to get some sense of the stories that have moved voters in the past, finalists’ entries are still on my blog as prior posts. Look them up.

Good Luck to the participants and Charge On!


54 thoughts on “Failure Competition #3 starts Today

  1. Elena Racheva
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section 0051

    Rising Up After the Failures
    I’ve always firmly believed that if one wants something deep from his or her heart then he or she will have it. Growing up in Bulgaria, my dream was to make my parents proud of my achievements as a college student as well as become financially independent which is very difficult to do. It didn’t happen when I wanted it to. However, I was able to rise up and ultimately reach my dream after many failures both academic and personal.
    After high school, I started studying at the Medical University in my town. As a matter of fact, it was my parents that wanted me to attend medical school although I had no intentions of pursuing a career in this field. After the first year, I collapsed during a lab session at the morgue and that was the end of my attempt to satisfy mom and dad’s dream. I was ashamed of my weakness and to top it all off, my uncle was one of my professors at the university. The following year, I transferred some of the credits and switched to Speech Therapy major. It was my choice and the fact that the university gave me a full scholarship made me feel I was headed the right direction in finally building my future and being independent. Unfortunately, this choice made me realize that speech therapy wasn’t the route I wanted to pursue either. I did not graduate because at some point during my studies I started thinking it was not an applicable major for me and that I was just wasting my time.
    In the meantime, I started work as a transportation coordinator at a firm primarily serving Europe and Russia. I had the advantage of speaking Russian and the company had sent me to take German courses to expand the area of my responsibilities. One day my managers offered me tuition support for taking bachelors in Business Administration so I sent in my application that same week. I took an exam with mathematics and my score was at the top 15 percentile, but when they asked me to take a test in English I felt as if I did not know English at all. It was a last moment requirement intending to limit the large number of applicants. I had never felt so ashamed looking at my boss and saying that despite his offer I couldn’t start studying because I can’t pass the entry exam. I liked my job, I liked the people around and the management of the company, but the new law in Bulgaria required degree for the position I wanted to have. At the time, I was barely surviving with the salary I had, but I could not ask my parents for help as I was the only one of their four children that had not graduated. I was the only one failing in life.
    I stopped thinking of having a degree… it wasn’t for me. I did not want to fail again, to feel the disappointment from my own self or see the frustration on the face of my critical mom. I stopped being the confident child I was in the past as none of my tries had a successful end. Being involved in a medical field was not the right choice for me, but the biggest pain came from my failure to enter the International Business University. After three years of studying French and five years of Russian at school, after taking German courses in addition to my native Bulgarian I was not accepted because of a language I did not have — English.
    Eight years ago, as the life was making the next joke with my future, I won a Green Card giving me the right to work and study in the U.S. where I have to speak in English. I came all by myself and started taking free classes at Winter Park Tech and later on English for Academic Purposes at Seminole College. In 2009, I applied at Valencia College and two and a half years later graduated with the President’s list while working two jobs to financially support myself. Now, taking the last classes before graduating with Bachelors in Finance I realized my weakness back then in Bulgaria. It took me longer than it should to rise up after I failed and to start fallowing my dreams again.
    I will not have my parents or any of my relatives as I walk the stage simply because I do not have any family in the country, but I one thing I know for sure – is that they are proud of me as much as I am proud of myself.

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