Round 5 of Our Failure Competition Starts Today

Round 5 of 0ur Failure Competition kicks-off today.

At our Hall of Fame event last February, we featured a video of our alum 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 and now has doctors reporting to him! 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 fifth 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 November 7th.

3. Each instructor will then choose a winner from their section and explain why they chose the essay they did. The deadline for them to make the selections is 5 pm on November 14th.

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

5. The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. They must have those videos to me by Nov 25th at 5 pm.

6. I will then feature one video each day on my blog the week of December 1st, with a vote taking place on Thursday Dec 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 1500 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 want 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!

Advertisements

42 thoughts on “Round 5 of Our Failure Competition Starts Today

  1. Melody Newson
    Instructor – Regina Taylor
    Section 16

    At the risk of initially seeming arrogant, any recollection of failure from my 36 years of life escapes me. Before judging me, allow me to clarify.

    Almost from birth I was taught to have very high expectations of myself. As a very young child, during those years when grades were not yet assigned but instead we were given an “S” for Satisfactory or a “U” for Unsatisfactory for various skills and tokens of character, it didn’t take long for me to understand that receiving a “U” was not acceptable. I internalized this. When I reached grade levels wherein letter grades were earned for academic subjects, I gleefully looked forward to the accolades showered on me by my parents for receiving an “A” and remember being told that I could do better on those rare occasions I received a “B.” A “C,” of course, was akin to failing; I made sure that never happened. High grades were relatively easily attainable for me, and I graduated high school with the honor of Summa cum Laude.

    Of course, life got more complex after high school graduation. I was no longer on a set path determined by my superiors. My life’s path was up to me. After declining scholarship offers purely out of indecision and the fear of the unknown, the fear of failure, the fear of making the wrong choice, I finally enrolled in a community college where I would receive my Associate’s degree. That seemed pretty safe and easy; surely I couldn’t fail there. I’d not yet even graduated when I met the man who would decide my future for me.

    He asked me to marry him and wanted me to be the good homemaker. My friends told me how lucky I was. I quit school after receiving my Associate’s degree, lost my Bright Futures scholarship and settled in at home, secure in the knowledge that this man would provide for me and I’d never have to work a job…never have to make that choice…never have to try something at which I may (gasp!) fail. I fell into a deep depression, gained 100 pounds, developed diabetes, became addicted to narcotics originally prescribed for pain from an injury, but eventually self-prescribed to numb a different kind of pain and I felt my life slipping away. All the while I was bombarded with the “advice” of well-meaning outsiders who told me how fortunate I was to have a man who would love me and take care of me. Without a doubt, “…even though you’re so fat,” remained an unspoken but understood thought.

    Here I am now, 15 years later, having taken the steps necessary to get my Bachelor’s degree. I walked onto the UCF campus feeling like the biggest failure who’d ever lived; thirty-four years old and surrounded by twenty-somethings who HADN’T messed up. I had to use courage like I never believed was within me to leave that marriage. I had to work very hard to lose the weight I gained, but I did it. I had to endure tremendous pain to get off painkillers, but I did it. I’m happy again. The last three years since the divorce have been some of the most challenging of my life, and they’ve given me plenty of opportunity for self-reflection and here is what I’ve learned:

    o What constitutes “success” to others may actually be a failure or a mistake…and you’re the one who will pay the price.
    o In nearly every instance, the earlier in life a failure occurs, the easier it is to bounce back from and the more time you have to apply what you learned from that failure.
    o It is not failure you should fear. Rather, it is the fear that holds you back and makes you “play it safe” that should be ultimately dreaded. That fear nearly ruined my life.

    Although I’ve worked hard to get where I am, I have much farther to go and every day I still face consequences of the decisions (or lack thereof), which resulted from allowing fear to paralyze me back then. I still face the possibility of failure and I always will; we all will. It would have been far better to have summoned some courage 15 years ago…I had to eventually, anyway.

    • JOHN ARCHER-EKYE
      Instructor: CHRISTOPHER LEO
      SECTION: 50

      My family owns a printing press company called Arakan Printing Press back in Ghana which had existed as a family asset for many years. During my high school era, I was always checking on the company’s daily operations after school with my uncle, who happened to be the general manager during that time. My regular routine visits developed my interest in one of the offset printing machines. Out of curiosity, I asked my uncle for a learning opportunity regarding the operating of that machine. His initial answer was no, since he didn’t want to encourage my curiosity. After I graduated from high school, he decided to surprise me with by arranging some physical lessons with the chief operating officer. The training was only to satisfy my interest, not to encourage my decision on working in that department. However, after we went over the family’s tradition, the next in kin to inherit his job position if anything should happen to him was me. Our culture obliges an uncle to pass on his possessions to his oldest nephew.
      His responsibility was to guarantee my college completion as well as a managerial position in the company. One day, I requested permission from my uncle to help supervise the morning setting up of the operational department which he refused again. A few days later the supervisor in charge of that department called out sick. I asked to support the assistance supervisor in setting up the equipment. At the end, certain parts from the equipment under my supervision were wrongly positioned which affected the machine to smoke out. I also blew out some sensors which further resulted in the shutting down of the press for thirty days. My uncle was very upset with me after that and decided to give the management position to my younger cousin. He eventually gave him the position which was a massive disappointment to me.
      My primary goal in college was to major in business administration but my unforeseen failure affected my diversion into a private Technical Institute instead of the initial plan. This way, I can study more about machines and equipment operation. I finally got my license in Mechanical Operation Engineering after twenty four months. Long story short, I eventually developed new procedures or techniques currently being implemented in the daily activities as well as operations of the company.

  2. Melissa Francois
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    When presented with the opportunity to think back on a time that I failed the first thing that came to mind to me was my junior year at UCF leading up to now. I was a transfer student who started UCF in the spring of 2013. Even though I came from a Community College I had previously attended a University so I knew exactly what to expect. Now my goals were very simple, get good grades, participate in student activities, and more importantly receive an internship with a top company that would eventually lead to a job offer after graduation. No big deal right, I thought I had it well thought out. Now towards the middle of the semester I realized I was having trouble in two of my classes. Although the professors provided resources for us if we needed help I never utilized them, I figured well no big deal if I failed this test I’ll just do better next time. Bad decision, I ended up failing both classes that semester and I was placed on academic probation and in jeopardy of getting kicked out of the business program if I didn’t bring my grades up, plus those failed classes really took a toll on my GPA. Now I would consider myself an optimistic person so although that happened I still didn’t let that affect my future plans.
    When summer semester came around I retook both classes and passed; now I was out of academic probation but I really messed up my GPA. If only I knew then that it would be a challenge for me to bring it back up maybe I would have tried my hardest in all my classes. Semester after semester passed and although I never failed a class again since my first semester I have to be honest I wasn’t trying my hardest. I went from an A and B student to a B and mostly C student. Again I still told myself over and over you’ll bring it up to a 3.0 and above but I never did. My past mistakes have lead to me not being able to join certain business fraternities or social sororities because my GPA wasn’t at the minimum of what they required, I missed out on applying for great internships because the really good ones require at least a 3.0 average which again I didn’t have. I honestly felt like a failure, I saw most of my college counterparts doing amazing things but I had to realize that I had put myself in this position and everything that I was missing out on was because of my own actions.
    It is now my last semester as an undergrad student and I can honestly say that I have learned the importance of not being complacent with my surroundings. I had big dreams when I started college and once I realized I wasn’t reaching them as quickly as I should I began to just settle for average. What I think others can learn from my story is that just getting by in life isn’t always the best option. It is best to create high goals for yourself and be determined to achieve them. Even though I was not able to accomplish the goals I had set prior coming to UCF I can honestly say that the battle is still not over. I plan on continuing my education and learning from my mistakes from this point on.

  3. Amy Essig
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    Decisions on what direction to take in my life have always been a huge challenge for me. I started school at the University of North Florida not knowing what I would like to major in. You could just call me one of those “lost souls” at the time. I refused to get myself involved at school or meet anyone that lived in the dorms with me. Every weekend I would travel back to Orlando to be with my family. Unhappy was definitely one word to describe how I felt in Jacksonville.

    I began to write down pros and cons of moving back to Orlando and transferring to the University of Central Florida. I knew a few people that went there from my high school and I figured I would be so much happier being closer to my family. I decided to apply to UCF to see if I could even get in since my SAT scores from high school were below the minimum requirement, needless to say, I did not get accepted. I decided to still move back and take the “safe route” by attending Valencia College for a year and getting my Associates Degree. Which guaranteed me a “direct connection” to UCF. Upon getting my Associates Degree from Valencia College I made one of the best decisions of my life, which was going to UCF. As soon as I transferred to UCF and started taking classes in the College of Business I saw how involved people were in the College of Business from the first week of school. There were clubs and professional business fraternities tabling constantly. I decided that in order for me to figure out what I would like to do I needed to start getting more involved on campus, applying for internships, and/or part time jobs in the field that I am most interested in. In high school, I was very involved in a club called DECA and the field of Marketing has always been an interest of mine. I competed in regionals and in states for DECA.

    While in the College of Business I worked part time on the weekends at the Orlando World Center Marriott in retail and also gained marketing experience by undertaking marketing internships with highly reputable companies. However, the summer before graduating I felt stuck; I had no idea what my next step would be but I had two marketing internships under my belt as well as retail experience in the hospitality industry.

    I had this sudden urge to pack up my bags and move to New York City for the summer; I had applied to numerous internships in NYC but received no callbacks. I followed up and nothing followed through. I then reminded myself that I was competing against a lot of people from nearly every University across the country and NYU. Who does not want to be in NYC when it’s warm? Right? I took the more realistic approach and applied to twenty to thirty internships and jobs in Orlando and interviewed like crazy. When I was finally offered a job I immediately accepted. This was my greatest failure. I know this may not sound like a failure story but it was a decision I made out of fear. Let me explain – I was afraid that I would be unemployed before graduation and having faced so many previous disappointments I took the first job that accepted me instead of me accepting them. About a week later I received a call from the company that I am interning for right now (and love) and THEY offered me a part time internship position! The company that I am interning for now is a company that I had wanted to work for upon graduation. So I informed the first company that I already accepted the job from and told them that I was given another opportunity that I could not pass up. I think the lesson learned for me was to not make life decisions based on fear because those decisions can ultimately lead to failure.

  4. Hailey Royal
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    Sleep. S-l-e-e-p. The dreaded word that gave me my first taste of failure. I can remember winning every single practice spelling bee in the weeks leading up to the real deal. When the pressure was on and winning was so close I could taste it, I choked. “S-l-e-p-p.” Wrong. I cried, and cried, and then cried some more. All the months of studying, reading and practicing with my mom- down the drain. Sure, it was only kindergarten, but I learned a few valuable life lessons that day.

    1) I lost like a loser. I was an incredibly poor sport. I didn’t congratulate the winner and I caused a big scene. Since then, I have learned how to lose gracefully and win humbly. People respect a graceful loser more than a boastful winner any day of the week.

    2) Failure comes in many shapes and sizes. You can learn just as much from a small failure as a big one. I have failed many times in life, and inevitably I will fail more before it’s all said and done. But the good news is I’m okay with that because I’ll take the lessons learned and make sure I don’t make those same mistakes again.

    3) I love to win. It’s a great feeling. Losing the spelling bee at such a young age sparked a competitive streak in me that I still have to this day. It doesn’t matter what I do or who I’m playing, I want to win and I want to be the best. I take that attitude and apply it to every facet of my life whether it’s school, work, athletics or even board games, and it has served me well thus far. People laugh when I tell them I used to have a job washing dishes for a while, but my boss told me I was the best dishwasher they ever had. That’s something I’m still proud of to this day. It’s not always about the glitz or the glam, it’s about grinding every day to make things happen.

    Things since that day have turned out pretty well for me. I skipped 2nd grade, graduated in the top 5 of my high school class and in a little over a month I’ll be graduating Magna Cum Laude from the best university in the nation with a full time job waiting for me at Lockheed Martin. I might not be the best speller, but I can surely crunch some numbers! I’ll be honest, my 5 year old nephew now has the same kindergarten teacher as me and will be competing in a spelling bee at the end of the year- I secretly hope that he wins just to avenge my loss over 15 years ago. And in case you were wondering, the girl who beat me ended up graduating as valedictorian of her class a year later and now goes to UF. I think I got the better end of the deal! Go Knights!

  5. Jason Fisher
    Instructor – Regina Taylor
    Section 17

    At the age of 19, I moved out of my family’s home and was completely financially independent. I worked at a restaurant, paid my bills and tuition at community college all by myself. However I was having a little “too” much fun having no one but myself to answer to. My grades suffered and it too over 3 years to get my Associate in Arts degree with a less than stellar sub 3.0 GPA.

    I moved to Gainesville to try and figure things out what I wanted to do with my life. Soon the “college” town lifestyle of continuous drinking and partying had me going in a direction leading nowhere. Until one fateful night leaving Tampa, I was involved in an alcohol related accident that left me paralyzed from the middle of my chest down, and the other driver dead at the scene. I was stopped at a light getting ready to cross oncoming traffic to enter the I-75 northbound onramp, the time was roughly 10pm. I follow the vehicle turning left in front of me, when suddenly a bright flash of light and a powerful impact knocked me out. Going about 15 mph, I collided with another driver going 70-75 mph in a posted 45 mph zone. We were both 23, neither had our seatbelt on and I was the only survivor…

    After 9 hours of spinal fusion surgery and a shattered collarbone, I woke up in intensive care with my mother sobbing and telling me that I was paralyzed. In that moment I was so elated to just be alive. I spent 10 week in the hospital and then went home with about 5% independence. My mother had just got done with chemotherapy and her first bout with breast cancer. She immediately was thrown into being a caretaker for her 23-year old dependent son.

    A few months later I was able to get into a brain and spinal cord specialty hospital in Atlanta called The Shepherd Center. For 3.5 months, 8 hours a day I did outpatient therapy. The hospital saved my life, they took me from 5% to 95% independent in those 3.5 months!

    About a year after returning home I was accepted to the University of Florida. While there I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Telecommunication. I graduated in the summer of 2008 when the market crashed…finding a job was impossible. Nonetheless I picked myself back up and returned to school and enrolled at UCF working in my last semester of accounting school.

    There are many other layers to my testimony, but the message is clear. No matter how many bad choices I’ve made or how many times I fail…I continue to persevere and be an example of tragedy turned triumph. I often make the statement, “I’ve accomplished more sitting down than I ever did standing up.” That accident was a blessing, it woke me up.

  6. Michael J. Vigh
    Section: 50
    Instructor: Christopher Leo

    Materialism, consumerism, capitalism…

    These ism’s create a desire to accumulate stuff. It is easy to get wrapped up in the need to buy the latest gadget, own a bigger TV or go out to happy hour for the fourth night in a row that week. As a young twenty year old, I fell into the trap of credit debt. I graduated high school and was not as fortunate as some to have a family that supported me in pursuing higher education. I worked full time at a call center and started community college part time, but working a full 40-hour week, plus second jobs to make ends meet, school had to be dropped. I was working hard and making a decent wage, perhaps not enough to save up, but enough to live paycheck to paycheck. Not having expendable income was tough. I wanted to buy a new TV, get a new car, go out with friends every week, heck every night, but I definitely did not have the money to do so.

    In come credit cards. Credit cards are similar to candy: easy to obtain, easy to use/eat and add excessive weight. I realized that with credit cards, several credit cards, I could go to happy hour; I could buy a new TV and a surround sound system. I could go on more vacations and dine out frequently. Credit cards take away the stress of seeing your bank account balance drop after each purchase. Soon enough I was tens of thousands of dollars in debt, racking up interest and unable to pay it down. I had no financial plan and was living beyond my means, but too young to realize the hole I was digging.

    Eventually, the amount of debt started to become a reality and I panicked. I knew if I wanted to go back to school or move forward in my career, I had to get my debt under control. I knew I would have to pay off the debt and the interest was growing, in the thousands. I called one of the credit consolidation companies and they helped me to combine all my debt, lower interest rates and point me in the right direction. It took a while, more than five years in fact, but I was able to clear all of my debt and get back on track. I definitely paid interest and had to make decisions to cut back on new purchases and expensive nights out with friends. As a young adult, without much guidance or understanding of personal finances, it can be hard to not succumb to the pressures of materialism and peers.

    The irony—I work as a senior business analyst and finance is a huge part of my job. I manage millions of dollars in products where saving money is top of mind. In my personal life, my finances have improved greatly in the past 10 years. I was able to go back to school and am nearly finished with my degree. I have been promoted five times in my company and am proud of my successes. I recently got married and purchased a home. I will not say my finances are perfect now, but I have budgets, check balances weekly and maintain goals. My failure in not creating a financial plan, or even small budgets, has made me much more cognizant of managing money now. My advice to young students is to create a plan, save what you can and evaluate what is truly necessary in your life and what really brings you happiness.

  7. Candis Rambisoon
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    “This looks horrible! I could have done a better job myself and you call yourself a professional?!” said one of my first few clients. Instantly, my self-confidence was knocked down. “You clearly don’t know what you’re doing” she said right after. Again, another blow to my confidence. She asked to speak to the manager and demanded her money back. Luckily, my manager was able to fix her hair color to the way she wanted without having to refund my client her money.

    During my first few months after coming out of cosmetology school, I had a hard time adjusting to not having a teacher around to answer all my questions before applying color and giving me step by step instructions. Knowing that my teachers were there helped me to have confidence in them and not in myself. I quickly realized that I had failed to believe in myself. Later on, I noticed that I knew all the right answers, but did not carry the confidence in myself to act on it.

    Just because I saw that I had no self-confidence in my work did not mean that I was able to fix the problem overnight. I worked with people who had been in the industry ranging from 10 to 20 years, so it was very easy to become intimidated. I realized that in order for me to be fully confident in myself, I could not be afraid of being wrong. Fortunately for me, my co-workers were able to help me believe in myself through encouragement and helping me to understand the chemistry rules in coloring hair. This taught me the importance of team work, reassurance, and believing in others.

    This may seem like a personal problem, but it does not mean that others can’t learn from my failure to believe in myself. I learned that everyone is conscious about something in their lives and no matter what stage of doubt they are in, encouragement can make a situation better. Whenever I see someone new to the industry and even to my salon in general, I am the first to volunteer to show them things or offer any help with questions they might have. I show that I believe in them and find that they offer help to others in the same way I did in return.

    Sometimes I share my failure story with others who I see are lacking the self-assurance that they should have. There is no greater feeling than making a difference and being able to relate with someone who is going through something that you have already been through, especially if you know how to help.

  8. Susan Silva
    Section 85
    Instructor: Christopher Leo

    Wow! I have just finished reading Jason Fisher’s “failure” story. How does one follow his, when your own seems so trivial? God spared you for a reason, Jason. He is not finished with you yet. I really commend you and your mom. So, on with my paltry tale.
    I too, started out young and not knowing which way my life was going to head. Do we ever really know or do we just thing we know? We all seem to end up somewhere where we did not intend to go. I graduated high school and thought that I would attend college. However, I wanted to “play” for a year and then start my career. Well… thirty years later, I am now finishing where I had left off years ago.
    I had met a young man back then, thought that we would be together for the rest of our lives. I was mistaken. He had left me for someone else. From that point, I moved to Miami and met another. We married and had two children-one of which has Becker’s muscular dystrophy, scoliosis, and is mildly mentally handicapped. Becker’s muscular dystrophy is a slow progressing disease, wasting away the body’s muscle tissue. I did not know what was wrong with my son at the time in Miami, but I did know that something was not quite right. I proceeded to find what that something was, but to no avail. Things were progressively getting worse at home with my husband. He did not except the fact that his son was not a normal growing child.
    My husband left us in 1995, and ultimately my children and I moved to Ocala, Florida in 1997, with our three Rottweilers. I took the proceeds from the sale of our Miami house and bought a home in Ocala. I had no job and no formal education except a high school diploma. I do not know how I qualified for a mortgage without a job. I had run up my credit cards like so many others. I was $32,000 in credit card debt which may not seem so much, but when there is no money coming in, not even child support or alimony, that amount might as well be a million dollars. I found a job in a department store in Ocala and began my pursuit of life, what there was of it.
    From 1998 until 2005, I worked trying to keep us afloat. Boy! Did I feel like throwing in the towel. At that time I think God said to Himself that He needed to do something here, and He did. My next door neighbor had gotten a divorce a couple of years before, and we started seeing each other. He said to me that you can grow old with a diploma or grow old without one and not know where it might take you. I wanted to choose the without one, because I did not see how or if I could achieve that goal; I chose the former. It took four years to receive a two year AA degree working full time and taking care of my son, and another five years to get where I am today, at UCF just in time to retire, or not…..
    I do need to thank my sweetheart because he has stood by me through thick and thin when a lot of others would not.
    Here lies the question. What have I learned from all this? Perseverance, with a little help from the Man upstairs, and… next door.

  9. Deanna Oxner
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    Everyone has a fear, but it is their choice whether to be controlled by it or not.

    My failure was more than a one-time decision or action. It was a trait embedded into my very personality. I was controlled by my fear of communication. Ironically, my desired degree is in marketing.

    When I first entered college, I rarely talked to people and never stepped outside my comfort zone. I was not very bothered by it until the day I had to conduct my first college presentation. I was traumatized, but it was only three short minutes.

    Many of my peers came up and presented with ease. I tried to smile and forget the nervousness, but I kept staring down at my white paper marked up with notes. The front page was all neat in black and blue ink. On the back were extra scribbles, all in a confused and nervous order.

    The room was silent. It was my turn to come up. Shivering and shaking were my hands way of saying “Don’t go.” My voice was on the brink of cracking, and tears were ready at the ranks. I glanced at the crowd of twenty or so, spotting a few familiar faces edged at their seats. They were smiling or grimacing in anticipation of my turnout. My left hand gripped the metal rail at the bottom of the whiteboard. I kept myself close, so close to the whiteboard, squeezing the marker in futile comfort.

    I knew the sound of their minds. “We’re waiting.”

    Inhaling, I began. Words came from my mouth, fewer then I liked and duller than I wished. I turned my back to them and spoke again, but still just as poorly. My voice stuttered and my voice was low. The marker touched the board; letters followed each other. I turned to my peers for one second. The spotlight was on me; all eyes were on me. I felt the tears behind my nervous smile and turned away once again. I knew I was not supposed to face away, but I could not turn. I glanced down at my paper and back up at the tall whiteboard; I felt so small. The room was bigger from here than when I was sitting down– much bigger. I grabbed the marker and reached as high as I could and wrote again. I spoke softly again, but raised my voice when I realized how quietly I spoke; I could not hear myself. I held the whiteboard closer yet again.

    “Time’s up.” The teacher spoke, shifting in his seat. “You can sit down.”

    I walked to the darkened side and returned to my seat, keeping my eyes focused on the floor. Still shivering with nervousness, I knew that when I returned home, tears would finally find their way to my eyes. Three minutes, I spoke, just three short minutes; the longest three minutes of my life.

    I could have ended it like that, moved on, and continued on in my turtle’s shell. But it was at that moment, I realized how much my fear was affecting me.

    I became a campaign walker, knocking on hundreds of doors, speaking with strangers who both accepted and rejected my message. I was even yelled at by the more unwelcoming individuals. Not the most pleasant experience, but I pushed forward.

    I took every chance to do class presentations, immersed myself around strangers, and eventually became the keynote speaker for e-marketing seminars with an audience filled with local politicians, campaign managers, and political organizations. I have been praised for my presentation skills and social ambition. Something I would have never imagined happening two years ago.

    I still get nervous sometimes when I talk to strangers and when I speak in front of an audience; but then again, I have even found myself enjoying the challenge. Either way, I do not let my fear affect me anymore. Whatever fear may be holding you back, there is a way to face it and overcome it.

  10. Taylor Hahn
    Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    Failure is an interesting concept; because at the time when failure is at our feet all we can think are negative thoughts and the lack of motivation to continue what we just failed at. From many college and life experiences, I have learned that failure is all about how we perceive it and what we can get out of it. Failure shouldn’t have such a negative connotation. From such as young age we, as humans, are taught that failure is the worst thing that can happen, that we need to succeed in everything we try to do in life and if not, well… then we are considered a failure, a loser. No one in life commends us for not getting the grades we want, or for not getting that internship of our dreams. They congratulate us only if we get it but they don’t congratulate us for coming close to getting it, but, what I have learned is that we should congratulate ourselves; on the positive outcomes that have come from our failure.

    No matter what someone fails at, whether it be a class, a relationship, or a parent’s expectation, we usually learn something in the experience or agree that something better has come out of our failure. This is on one condition though, if we are willing to accept the failure and keep moving on. What happens to people when we fail is we stop trying, we feel as though we got defeated, that the task at hand has beat us. Although this may be true, this doesn’t give us an excuse to quit trying our hardest.

    Since being in college, I have tried every year to be accepted into an internship with a company called Vera Bradley. I have tried 3 times, every summer since starting UCF and finally, last summer, I made it to the final round of interviews. I practically had my bags packed to go to Indiana (head quarters of Vera Bradley). I thought I had nailed the interview and was feeling so confident in myself. Of course, a few days later, I got the rejection email I knew so well telling me that, yet again, I had not been accepted to join the internship team. At the time of hearing the news all I could think was what am I doing wrong? What could I have done differently? Why does my dream company not want me? As I look back, I know I couldn’t have done anything differently that would have changed the outcome and understanding this has helped me embrace the fact that I have learned so much from the experience, whether I was offered the position or not. Although I failed at actually receiving the internship, I definitely did not fail at trying. I put my whole heart into my dreams and continued to try. I still have the drive and motivation to make me want to succeed, whether it is with Vera Bradley or not. Through these experiences I have started to believe the many cliché sayings such as “when one door closes, a window opens” or “everything happens for a reason”. I can now say I understand why people say these mantras to us when we fail, because although they aren’t congratulating us on failing, they are giving us hope. Hope to continue following our dreams.

  11. Elizabeth German
    Section 12 (87631)
    Instructor: Mr. Matthew Griffith

    Failure – In the Hands of the Beholder

    It was November 2002 and I was sitting in an unusually dark and cold room at Florida Institute of Technology. My pen was twirling in a very creative rhythm between my fingers. I had been shuffled into this dungeon in attempts to complete my entrance interview for my spring 2003 student loan. I had just turned 19 two weeks earlier and these very-adult looking papers were shuffled in front of me.

    ‘Shouldn’t I have a witness here or something?’ I thought, afraid of the legal mumbo-jumbo on the papers in front of me. This had been the first time I would be involved in a loan. ‘Is it cold in here only to make us uncomfortable to get us in and out quickly, signing debt over to our name?’

    I sat still continuing to stare at my hands. I was more interested in the pen moving around almost-uncontrollably in my hand, than the paper that was in front of me. I was about to sign a paper that was essentially worth thousands of dollars. And this was only the beginning. I was an Aviation Management student with a Flight Minor; in other words I was doomed for a student loan bill far greater than the average 4-year college student. But I was not reading, I was just staring at my hands.

    I realized sitting there, that I could not even remember the content of the last exam I took in Meteorology class, even despite getting an A. If I can’t remember details about weather, how am I going to be a decent pilot? I am signing a paper for an amount of money that I could hardly even fathom. Was I really investing in the right thing here?

    I walked out of the room, without signing the papers. A 4.0 student, former 4-year letterman from high school with hundreds of hours of community service, work experience and positive references quit. I dropped out of college after less than 3 months. Doubt had finally convinced the devil on my one shoulder to give up. I was exhausted, my brain felt full, I couldn’t continue. Even though it was my decision, I felt like a dusty ribbon with peeling letters of “Failure” was hanging right above my head as I slowly walked back to my dorm room to call my parents.

    * * *

    “I AM GOING TO DIE.” I screamed down the wall, my voice shaking with every word. It was October 2010 and I was hanging on a wall at Red Rock, just outside of Las Vegas. I was scared, I was shaking, and I was numb. I looked behind me, but this time instead of looking to the ground where my friends were (two of whom thought I was absolutely nuts for rock climbing), I looked straight ahead. I could see my friend’s car parked where we had left it. It looked about the size of the cars you use in the game of Life, only the blue and pink stick people were missing. The cars were so tiny. I was so very high up. Oh. My. God.

    I turned my head back towards the wall and looked at the equipment in front of me. I had just climbed up the wall and to retrieve our equipment at the end of the route, had to start cleaning the route which consisted of using two slings to attach to the wall, then undoing the rope that had been my lifeline in the past 15 minutes. I had to detach from the rope in order to re-loop it through other permanent equipment to then remove our pricey, temporary equipment. I had to do this all while hanging there.

    I looked at my hands. Understandably they were shaking, but I looked at the chalk randomly smeared up and down my fingers and branching to my palms. My hands were slightly callused from the rock climbing I had been doing over the past 9 months. I couldn’t help but just stare at them. I had just climbed up a rock wall, in this red desert, with my bare hands. And even though I had climbed hundreds of routes prior to this moment, I was suddenly (and unusually) proud of myself.

    I had never been happier than in the past few years. Some may think I was having my life flash before my eyes as I dangled by a rope, almost a hundred feet above my friends, but it was more like a revelation. I was a rock climber! I have surfed, I have travelled to see numerous states and countries, I have camped, I have run races, I have worked, I have flown a plane by myself – I had LIVED.

    It took that moment of staring at my hands to realize this journey I had been on in the previous 8 years. I did not earn my degree, but I enjoyed myself and traveled. I joined family and friends in celebrations and trips that created incredible memories. I had earned enough income to be debt free and held a steady job. I was on a race for the most frequent flyer miles with friends and never arrived back home from a trip without having another one already planned.

    The failure that I experienced had opened doors that would have never been opened previously. Time, I had learned in my twenties was more valuable than any amount of money. You cannot buy time, you cannot save it, and you cannot put it on pause. Time is running constantly and eventually it will run out on you. But because I had chosen a route of “Failure” those years ago at Florida Tech, it created the opportunity for me to have more open time. While I was not going to live an elite life of money and fortune, I had the time to try new hobbies, visit friends and family, move to a new state, visit the beach weekly, read, talk and listen.

    I had learned that even though the path I had chosen was not the one I intended to take as an adult, I had chosen to use the time wisely and live life to the fullest. Some choices may be difficult; some may feel like you are giving up on something important. It is what you do AFTER you make that choice that determines exactly if you failed. Take a look at your hands, or ask yourself the common Mom line “Where have those hands been?” Take time into your own hands and enjoy every moment. Make a bucket list, not to countdown to the end, but to have a positive plan of adventure, fun and celebrations.

  12. Anthony Carrozza
    Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward”. Henry Ford. This quote is what I live by after experiencing an epic and costly failure that allowed me to expand my consciousness not only in business, but in life.
    I had an amazing idea I felt would change the way people go about cooking. So I pursued a company who specialized in making these ideas come to life and put on shelves. I never really took time to pause and think of what I was really getting myself into, I was so caught up in my notion and was going off a tremendous natural high. Like the typical knuckle head I am, I never initially researched or even asked the company I went into business with what their rates were. I called this company up the next day and paid them a large sum of money to work on product pre-development. No body could tell me nothing. I was so eager and determined to make my idea come to life that I completely tuned out the advice of those who were trying to help me, my mother specifically. I ended up paying eight hundred dollars not knowing I was going to have to pay an additional FIFTEEN GRAND! So after basically giving my money away, the company I acquired to create and package my product wouldn’t continued progress until I finalized my payment. For an idea that has a chance to be a total flop, fifteen grand is way to risky for me to put up for stake. For the moment, this project is put on hold until I further wish to make the payment which I believe won’t happen anytime soon, if ever.
    This failure to complete my final payment allowed me to come to an appreciated but rude awakening. Right off the bat I went one hundred miles per hour. I didn’t take my time, which is extremely vital and I failed to utilize my resources I had at my disposal. This chain of incognizant events allowed me to become fully aware that I jump right into things without doing proper research and using logical communication. Asking valuable questions is key. Yes, this all may seem obvious but when you’re in the thick of things sometimes you don’t stop and THINK. All in all, I pretty much paid eight hundred dollars to come to a better understanding of how to go about getting certain things done. Even though this was an expensive lesson I encountered, the value of it was priceless. As Henry Ford would agree, this made me bigger, fortified my character, and helped create my foundation of marching onward.

  13. Katherine Lopus
    Christopher Leo-Section 50

    Growing up, school was always a breeze for me. I received great grades, gradated from high school with honors, and transitioned to the best step of my life: attending the University of Central Florida. I was elated to gain freedom, independence and choose my own steps into my life journey.

    As classes progressed my freshman year, I had encountered a road block. My grades were suffering, but I had been studying long and arduous hours. Exam grades would be returned and I was constantly disappointed. I would continually compare myself to my classmates, who had studied the same time amount, if not less, and they were receiving higher grades. I dealt with my frustrations myself, too stubborn to reach out for assistance. Semesters passed on and my exasperation increased. Once I hit a breaking point, I reached out to my parents for assistance. After brainstorming some ideas together, my childhood pediatrician had referred me to a psychiatrist. Once I had heard that news I contemplated to myself “a psychologist? Am I going crazy?”

    Despite my initial thoughts, I followed through with the appointment. It had finally arrived and the doctor performed various memorization tests and standardized questionnaires. At the end of two full days of different tests, the diagnosis was clear – I had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, otherwise known as ADHD. I was advised on many facts pertaining to this learning disability. The list went on but the behavior that stood out the most was that people with ADHD did not have trouble paying attention, rather paying attention to the “right” things. This learning disability wasn’t as easy as taking a pill and leaving it at that. There were specific actions I needed to take to thrive academically.

    This diagnosis transformed the way I learned to operate and complete tasks. The difference was day and night. Now that I was aware of the changes necessary to aid my success, it was all downhill from there. I discovered that I had to become more hands on with my studies. For instance, instead of reading the textbook, I would create outlines and flash cards and participation in various study groups. I learned to study in different ways that better accommodated my brain. After years of struggling, I am proud to be graduating in December 2014.

    What I want others to learn from my experience, is that failure is, and always will be a part of life. Don’t bottle up your frustrations, waiting to explode and causing a disaster. Reach out to professionals and others who can help you. Whatever your situation may be, chances are you are not the first one to experience this situation. Create a steady support system, and lean on them when times get challenging. When looking for answers, don’t compare yourself to your peers and classmates; that, in itself, is preparing you for failure. March to the beat of your own drum and do actions that will make you succeed.

  14. Julian Hidalgo
    Gary Nichols
    Section 22

    When looking back on some of the biggest failures I have had in my lifetime nothing stands out more than the experience I encountered during the admissions process at the University of Central Florida. When I was 16 years old and I began researching colleges and talking to some of my friends which I grew up with. To kind of begin explaining my failure I must first introduce my neighborhood. I grew up in a neighborhood that was an impoverished one located within Fort Lauderdale. My high school was known in the community for being amongst the worst schools not only within the County but the State. A stabbing incident and a death gloomed over my school my freshman year. Being a 1st generation American growing up in a neighborhood as bad mine the option of college after high school seemed like a dream within itself. Since the day I turned 16 I was employed to help pay for some of the expenses I encountered such as a car to get me to and from school to my parents both working hectic hours, which allowed me to stop using the city buses. I began working 20-30 hours while balancing school and also being 1 of only 3 freshman students on the varsity football team. I knew from a young age that due to my circumstances I was going to have to work hard than others to achieve the same as others. Especially since I would be the first person in my immediate family to attend a University.
    My junior year loomed around the corner and I spoke to all of my friends who had actually decided to attend a University. Of the big circle of over 20 kids we grew up with 3 of the 5 friends that attended a University all attended the University of Central Florida. Being that the school offered a Sports Business Program as well as it was located in a city with a professional sports team, which was my dream career. The decision for me seemed like a no-brainer. I spent every spare second I had preparing for the SAT and every spare dollar I had paying for the SAT. October came around and I was still waiting to hear from the school of my dreams in the situation of my dreams. Leading up to October I called Admissions weekly to check the progress of my application. Finally it was the Homecoming Week of my senior year that I suffered an injury to my foot, leading to me losing many athletic scholarship opportunities. As heart broken my family and I were I now turned my absolute attention to getting accepted into a University. As that week concluded I finally received a notice from UCF about my application. I waited hours to open the page and finally when I went home I opened the letter with my family only to find out I had been deferred, which later led to me being not accepted to the University. This week still gives me chills thinking about it, but it was once again in my life a realization that I had to work harder than others to make my dreams a reality. Not only did I want to get admitted into UCF, I wanted to make the University look terrible for passing me up.
    I vowed to myself that night I got declined to show this University what they missed out on. So I attended FAU my two years and accomplished nearly 3.7 GPA while working full-time upon completion of my Associates I applied once again for the University as a transfer student, but the acceptance to this school wasn’t enough for me. My junior year I became the Summer 2013 Social Entrepreneurship Champion raising the highest amount of money for my Non-Profit Organization. Later that year, I was a finalist for UCF’s Big Idea Competition which led to me becoming the first Publishing Intern at the AAA Headquarter in their Publishing Department, a position created because they felt they could not pass up the opportunity to allow me to help them and their publishing products. Upon completion of my opportunity with AAA I received a sales position with a company in which I ranked highly not only amongst the District but the Nation. Within 5 months I received a promotion to be the Manager of my Sales Department prior to graduating UCF. This assignment has been the assignment I have been waiting for since that miserable day in October 2009, and on December 13th 2014 I will become the first person in my family to graduate from a college or university. Today I can honestly say that I overcame my biggest obstacle to achieve my wildest dream.

  15. Marisol Barajas
    Instructor-Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    My name is Marisol Barajas, and I am not ashamed to share one of my failures in school I have experienced in the last year. We are humans, we make mistakes and we can learn from them, do better, and try to overcome those in the future. Prior to fall semester of 2013, I signed up for four classes as usual, which is my course load while working full time in retail. I was a junior with a GPA average of 3.0. One of the classes I enrolled in was Managerial Economics. Although I am a business major not an economics major, it was required that I take the class. Otherwise, I would not have chosen to take Managerial Economics because I have always struggled with Economic classes. In addition, unfortunately, this class is only taught on the main campus and by only one professor each fall and spring semester. Therefore, it was important for me to participate in the class at this time.

    As I began to attend class twice a week, I took notes during lecture but never read the book before or after class. Further, I never worked on helpful related assignments that were not graded and could assist me in learning the material. I took the first exam and I did not pass. I began to worry, but not too much. My thought was: “Oh well, it is my first exam and there are three more. I will do better on the next exams, no worries.” I did not change any study habits and I failed the second exam also. Again, I worried, but not too much. Then, I began to calculate my grades and how many points I would need on the next two exams to pass the course. Next, I still did not change my study habits and failed the third exam.

    I finally realized I was doing several things wrong. I was not taking advantage of all the material that was available to me online to study. I was also not practicing the exercise assignments or reading the book.
    Finally, I took the last exam and I did not earn sufficient points to pass the course. I felt very disappointed in myself because I did not do the necessary work to overcome the issue. Yet, the failure of this course has transformed my study habits and the methods I use now in my classes. I am thankful for that. Further, working full time and attending school full time is not easy and is very challenging. I have had to make adjustments.

    After the failure of this course, I changed my study routine and my work place. I found another job with a steady schedule and was able to manage school and work much better and made school more of a priority in my life. One of my goals has been to graduate in December of 2014. I have been doing everything to make this happen. A big challenge was the choice to leave the company which I was working for over three years. This class failure truly transformed my lifestyle and my study habits. One of the important lessons I learned from this experience was to not procrastinate. Immediately, if there is a problem in the beginning, fix it, and do not wait until it is too late.
    My advice to all students who are or have been in a similar situation is to not hesitate to ask your Professor for help in the beginning of the course if you are struggling. Lastly, if what it takes to manage your time better with school and work requires you to change your work place do so. In the end, building your school career now is what is going to help you become someone in life who is proudly graduating, reaching their goals, and beginning their next chapter in life.

  16. Jackeline Rosado
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    It was difficult to come up with a failure that I was comfortable discussing in a blog. However, one failure that I did believe was appropriate was the length of time it took me to get to where I am today: Graduating!

    When I was young I saw that my mom was unable to get her bachelor’s degree. Financially struggling when we were young motivated me to go to college so that I didn’t have the struggles that she had. I worked hard during my high school years and was able to graduate top 1% of my class. I live on my own my senior year and had to work full time to accomplish this but I was well on my way to going for the coveted College Degree I wanted.

    However, my dreams to become a math teacher – algebra to be exact, ended when the tragedy of Columbine happened. Something that tragic had never really happened before and at 19, it truly scare me. I became very afraid of simple things, including going to school which is why I dropped out of college.

    I was content with my small success of at least being more financially stable than my family was. It became a benchmark where as long as I was better than them, I had succeeded. On occasion, I would take a class here and there but “life” would get in the way and I would remind myself that “it’s ok” because of the benchmark I had set for myself.

    I continued that low benchmark of comparing my family to myself until I went to my 10 year reunion in 2008. I was asked about my life in general and what ever became of me. I was embarrassed to tell all my old classmates how I dropped out of college and was a receptionist. The classmates looked disappointed and even reminded/joked me that I graduated number 17 in the class.

    When asked about my reunion I expressed to my manager how embarrassed I was over the looks I got from my classmates. She wasn’t shy to tell me that in her opinion I have the potential to be something more than a receptionist and should be earning a 6 figure salary. She also stated that if I truly wanted to go to college, it is “never too late”. My manager guaranteed me that my compensation at my place of employment would double by the time I graduated. This gave me a huge incentive to go back.

    I started part time until I graduated from Valencia College in 2012. When I started UCF I planned to continue my part time status. However, during my first semester at UCF, one of my professors really motivated me with his story of his education and career. I decided to go full time after that and I held on to his story every time I wanted to drop out or was feeling overwhelmed. His story also made me feel that I need to take my education to the next level and go for my Master’s Degree.

    I FINALLY graduate with my Bachelor’s this semester and my compensation has more than doubled since I started school. My classmates are more than a decade younger than me but I feel like I appreciate my degree more than them because of the struggles I went through for years to get to this point. I hope that anyone who has thought of going back to school can read this story and chooses to go back and truly know it’s never too late.

  17. Luke Weber
    Section: 81
    Leslie Connell

    “You just never know”

    Freshmen year in college, where Mom and Dad are not there to wake you up for class. And you can miss up to 3 classes and not lose any points for attendance. Everything about college was so different, especially compared to the private high school I went too. I was so ready to live on my own and make all decisions for myself.

    In order for me to graduate from the junior college I attended in South Florida, I needed to take these boring humanities classes. I enrolled in an 18th-19th century art class because a buddy of mine told me it was extremely easy. He was definitely right, I had a 96% in the class barely lifting a finger . Another cool part of the class was the attendance policy, we could miss 3 classes and not lose any points in the class. The caveat was if we missed 4, he would fail us no matter what grade we had in the class.

    Playing baseball in junior college is a grind, long bus rides to/from games were hard on the body. In order for me to make it to practice on time, I had to schedule classes first thing in the morning. It was miserable, I would be getting to sleep at 2 am and have to wake up at 7:30 am in order for me to make my 8am class. So naturally, I used all 3 of my class absences after long road trips so I could get to sleep in. I used my last class absence with about 3 weeks left in the semester. I had the class twice a week so I had to make the last 6 classes in order to pass the class.

    On the morning of my third to last class, I got in a car accident. I totaled my jeep cherokee. It was a nightmare of all sorts. Not only did I wreck my jeep, I failed my humanities class because I missed my 4th class. I was also on the Florida BrightFuture scholarship so I had to keep a certain GPA to maintain the scholarship. Luckily, I had done so well in my other classes , my GPA was not below the threshold.

    The moral of the story is you never know what tomorrow holds, so plan accordingly. I should of kept a ” class absence” just in case something like that happened. I ended up re-taking the class in the summer, and using a grade forgiveness to remove the bad grade. I definitely learned a huge lesson, and it has helped me get to where I am today.

  18. Cindy Rullan
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    While I was told that failure is a way to get you on the right track to success I didn’t expect that my failures would begin right after high school.

    My first failure was dropping out of college. I didn’t have the motivation to make it happen because I had other responsibilities that needed my attention. I didn’t know the importance of education and getting a degree. I was content with having a mediocre job. The people that I surrounded myself with had made the same choices.

    A few years later, I met a young man who I though was going to sweep me off my feet. Unfortunately, it took me 12 years to figure out the marriage was a failure. I had been financially and emotionally supporting the relationship. The marriage drained my spirit. I was vulnerable and lacked confidence in everything I did.

    With no degree or possibility for promotion I needed a seasonal job to supplement my income. I interviewed for a cashier position and was hired on as a supervisor due to my previous work experience. Working for a stadium during peak sports events was a challenge, but working with a group of people that didn’t care about their job was even more challenging. My failure was not providing leadership to my staff. The beginning of each shift was like pulling teeth. Staff was dragging and we never opened up the concession stand on time. The cooks under cooked the food, the cashiers were not friendly with the customers, and inventory at end of night was an inconvenience for everyone. Staff always had to stay late and blamed me. I didn’t work with them. I stood back and let them work and took no action. I didn’t know how to motivate them. The attitudes reflected on the financials because fans no longer wanted to approach our concession stand. We had built up a bad reputation. I had failed the staff, the fans, and corporate.

    A month into the season, I realized things needed to change and it had to begin with me. I created a plan and shared it with staff. I mentioned that from that point on it was changing from “I” to “We”. Staff was receptive and accepted the challenge. There were team meetings at the beginning of each shift to plan out the day. We put on music in the kitchen to set the mood. We created a spreadsheet to keep track of inventory. I visited the cashiers every hour and helped process food orders. Staff had begun to work as a team. We came up with a solution to process end of shift paperwork. Our team’s reputation was turned around because the staff made ordering enjoyable. Everyone was motivated and happy. We shared our process with corporate because we wanted everyone to emulate our success. Corporate implemented our process within a month. To my surprise, I was voted to be Employee of the Month and met Billy the Marlin on the pitcher mound during the ceremony. I learned what it was to be a leader and have your team respect you. A leader works side-by-side with their team. I regained my confidence and continued to motivate not only staff, but myself.

    This new found confidence allowed me to believe in myself. I soon met the love of my life. He was and continues to be an inspiration in everything I do. We both decided to go back to college. Here I am 25 years later, in my senior year at UCF. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am finishing what I started and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

    Without failure, we may never consider the options we have. The most important thing is to learn to deal with failure and make a difference.

  19. Peggy Lo
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    I am currently studying for an accounting degree here at UCF. This semester is my last semester before graduating. While it may be easy for some to finish their degree, it has been a very challenging experience for me. Recalling my educational path, the hardest moment for me was to pass the GED tests. Ten years ago, I moved to the United States from another country. I faced culture shock along with other immigrants. I had to learn how to speak, write, and read English in order to fit into this new world, so I decided to go back to school to continue my education. I thought everything would be very easy at the beginning and I would not have trouble to get accepted in school because I was always an “A” student in school, but the language barrier blocked me.

    For a native English speaker, passing a GED test is an easy task; however, it was a very difficult task for me. There are four subjects on the GED test which are Science, Social Studies, Mathematical Reasoning, and Reasoning Through Language Arts. Even though I can speak some English, Reasoning Through Language Arts was the most challenging section on the GED test. When I prepared to take the GED exam at that time, I had to go to school and study the material every day. When the first exam score came out, I passed every section except Reasoning Through Language Arts. After that failure, I focused all my attention to study for this section. Unfortunately, I failed the section multiple times again and again. At that point, I completely lost my confidence. I started to question myself. Should I continue to pursue my education or not?

    Fortunately, there was help when I needed it the most. My friend recommended me to study a GED course at the Seminole State College. I talked to the GED instructor and tried to figure out the reasons for the failure. She figured out what the problem was and provided some very useful solutions to me. First, she chose some books that were best suited for my ability and encouraged me to read them. Second, she provided a lot of practice questions for me. Lastly, she would go over each practice question and explained the correct answer. As I was following these solutions and practicing on these test questions, I realized my reasoning skills were improving, and I found my confidence was building up once again. I retook the test again after I had completed the course. With all the effort I put into it, I passed the test eventually.

    Passing the GED test was both a challenging and rewarding experience. In order to solve a problem, it is important to identify the root of the problem. In my case, the GED instructor identified where my problem was and provided me with solutions to solve the problem. Everyone has the opportunity to encounter failure in life; no one can succeed every time. Learning from my mistakes has been an important lesson for me that will affect me for the rest of my life.

  20. Jordyn Kazel
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    My story of failure dates back to my junior year of high school in Syracuse, New York. I was very involved in extra curricular activities and sports.

    I began playing tennis for fun at an early age and had been on the school team starting in the 8th grade. Sophomore year my doubles partner and I were captains of the junior varsity team and played in the first doubles position. We trained during off season with the varsity team and had improved so much. During tryouts for the next season my doubles partner and I were unstoppable. We won every match against the other doubles teams including the varsity girls. This was unheard of.

    When they announced who made which team, you can then imagine our surprise when we were not brought up to the varsity level. The varsity team was heavy on seniors so the coach for that team decided to keep us at junior varsity to build strong players for the next year. At that moment everyone was in an uproar and was blown away. My doubles partner and I were so confused. We felt like we had failed ourselves, we had taken all the steps to go to the next level but it wasn’t enough. The coach we had been working with for three years was even in tears he could see our despair.

    My doubles partner and I continued our second year as team captains and the girls really looked up to us. We were frustrated but there was no time to be bitter. We had to prove that we had deserved to go to varsity. That season we went undefeated. Our biggest rivals didn’t see us coming, but most of the matches weren’t a challenge. We weren’t growing like we had before. What I didn’t realize until later is that I was growing in a different way, as a leader.

    After practice the younger girls would come up to me for extra help with their game and skills they wanted to work on. I enjoyed passing on my knowledge and giving them confidence on the court. It was especially rewarding when I would watch their matches and see them using something we had worked on together. One girl in particular ended up beating me in one of our practice matches using what I taught her. I was so proud of her!

    Reflecting on that time, I am no longer upset with not being moved up. The adversity I experienced was a growing opportunity in a way I couldn’t have imagined. It taught me to make the best of any situation and to always move forward with a positive attitude.

  21. Jinglei Zhang
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    “You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it”. I cannot recall where I heard this quote from, but it is what has kept me moving forward with my life over the past five years and has gotten me to the point where I am right now.
    I was born and raised in China, and have always been curious about the world around me. But the outside world is quite different than the culture you’re accustomed too. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to come to this United States and experience life here as an international exchange student. The free spirit, kindness and happiness that this culture made me feel also allowed me to embrace this country and want to start a new life here.
    After I went back to China to complete my first bachelor degree, I returned to America on a temporary Visa. At that point in my life I wanted to follow my dream and live in this great country. I decided to pursue a second bachelor degree to obtain additional skills that would make my dream a reality. Out of excitement and impulse, I chose the field of nursing as my major based on the high demand and lucrative job market.
    My American college life was fine until I enrolled in an anatomy class. It was the prerequisite to apply for the nursing major. Unfortunately, it was the toughest class I have ever experienced in my life. I understood very little about what he professor was speaking about. The majority of the anatomy terms and the names of our body parts are derived from Latin Language. I barely could pronounce the terms, let alone understand them. It didn’t take me too long to realize that studying this major with my second language was a huge disadvantage to me.
    I wasn’t sure what to do at this stage of my life should I try to continue with this major and possibly pass with a C? Or should I quit now and admit that I failed because I made an unrealistic decision? Was it better to give up and move on or continue to invest in something that was foreign to me? My desire to start a life in another country clouded my judgment. But I couldn’t just give up on my American dream. My initial failure with choosing Pre-med turned into self-doubt and made me question everything; I had no job, no family to turn to, and had amassed an immense financial burden because I had to pay out of state tuition as an international student. I cried nearly every day during this tough time. My subconscious told me that I had to calm down, stop crying and look for an alternative solution. Turning your dreams into reality requires fighting and working hard for them otherwise it wouldn’t be called a dream. I decided to withdraw from the class and change my major to accounting. I kept reminding myself that any dream requires hard work, and never give up. So I utilized all the resources that I had to be successful in my new major which would bring me closer to my dream. I reached out to any one that could help me and provide me with school and life advice; I reached out to friends, classmates, professors, and advisors.
    It has been four years since I failed in my previous major. But a lot has happened within those four years. My confidence has been fully restored and what once was my dream is now my reality. Four years ago I lived in an apartment with roommates and cried every day because the future was too scary to think about. Now I own a single-family house, work for a Fortune 100 company as an analyst, and am graduating in December. All I did was not giving up on my dream. I remind myself that I had to fight to reach my dream, and have had to make sacrifices and work hard for it. Even if I failed during my journey, doesn’t mean I failed on my dream. The journey was hard and I almost gave up and moved back to China, but I know now that if I have faith in myself, I can make things happen.

  22. Dominic Campos
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    Failure comes in many shapes and sizes, however we must learn from them to get better. Looking back in my time within college. I can honestly say I have failed many times. But something that keeps me going is my determination to finish and to achieve my dreams.

    Thinking back, I would end up saying college, in general, was my failure. Not the ideology of failing classes, which I have done, or changing majors several times, which I did that too, but, my perspective on how I could have done things differently. I learned a few things over this last year of college that if I had known from the very first day, things could have been differently, and I wouldn’t have failed my time in college.

    First off, “don’t regret not asking”, was a piece of advice I wish I got when I first started. My mentor, Dr. Carl Blencke told me this a few months ago when I came to point in my life where I wasn’t sure about what to do. This phrase showed me that, asking questions, and going to ask for opportunities, could take you far. When I started college I had a fear of asking questions. I felt it would have been stupid or I would be ridiculed, but these are questions that everybody asks and you must ask to move ahead in life. If you don’t ask these questions the answer will be “No”.
    Coming up, the next thing I learned was, don’t work for the money; let your passion and talents lead you, and money will follow. This had been something I have known, for a while, but hearing it from Professor Christopher Leo, in a graphical way, brightened my prospects to achieving my dreams. Over the last four years, I have gained many experiences, with graphics, music, and professional skills. What I gained from this talk was go for what you enjoyed, and the compensation will follow. I have been a passionate about and enjoy being a disk jockey, and I do this not because of the compensation, but, the emotional bond between the crowd on a dance floor and me.

    As Donald Trump has said, “Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.” I have realized I needed to make every moment count, and make sure I use every learning experience and go after opportunities that are going to present themselves to me, or go after them. There is always opportunity it just needs to be found.

    To finalize my thoughts and present advise to future college students, the most I learned about how to observe about life after college were in my colleagues and professors’ office hours. I was brought about the truth about the world outside of the books and the classroom. Also, this created friends that I can always turn to for advise. The world outside of college isn’t going to be nice, but with what one-on-one knowledge I have gained I can say college has become a success. And success is above the horizon.

  23. Matthew DeYoung
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    So often in life we are met with derision, doubt, and a defeatist attitude. Even more often these roadblocks are laid before us by our own hand. Should we move beyond the challenges that so frequently derail us from the mere attempt to try something new and exciting, we can still self-sabotage through laziness and a lack of self-confidence. This readily describes what I consider to be my biggest failure in life thus far.

    It was the fall of 2013 when I attended a panel discussion with multiple UCF alumni who went on to great careers with their finance degrees. They explained in enriching detail how they had moved forward with their career path in various industries; from selling financial investment plans to managing a finance department within Lockheed Martin. Listening to how these individuals were able to become a success in the field I was pursuing left me feeling energized and ready to conquer the world.

    After the meet and greet, I thanked Professor Christopher Leo who had informed our Management of Organizations class about the afternoon event and related what a great opportunity I thought it was. I explained how I had taken a half day of vacation from work to attend the event and was very glad I did as school events are often out of my reach. Discussion lead to how great it would have been if someone had shown me what UCF was going to be like as a transfer student from Valencia; something like a mentorship program. Professor Leo looked at me with his usual good natured smile and said, “Why don’t you do it?” It was the perfect question.

    And so began six of the most exciting weeks of my life. With the help of Professor Leo, and a lot of coffee, we came up with the idea for the UCF Squires Mentorship Program. It would be a student run organization made up of individuals who had come to UCF via the Direct Connect to UCF program. The plan was originally to roll out the program to the Valencia West and Osceola campuses, building up a membership that would eventually become self-sustaining. It was designed to allow those who had come to UCF through Valencia to pass down their experience and knowledge to those who would follow. There would be community service requirements as well as projects that would help improve the program itself for future mentors. We even had plans for bringing in alumni that had gone through Valencia and UCF to talk to the Squires, similar to the event the professor and I had just attended, but specifically for those enrolled in the program. The varying opportunities to help other students consumed my thoughts by day and my dreams by night.

    I created a presentation which I practiced a hundred times in my head, debating fictional arguments about standards and practices, funding, what the organizational structure would look like, and a thousand other details. Thanks to Professor Leo I was lucky enough to give this presentation to a number of fantastic people within the UCF administration, all of whom were excited to get the program off the ground. I even gave the presentation to some fellow students, all of whom came dressed like they were ready to run a Fortune 500 company, let alone a school related mentorship program.

    I was ready to launch the program like a Saturn V rocket and thought everyone else was too. Then Thanksgiving came and people were busy. The students that had seemed so eager to sign on never responded back to my fevered emails. Then finals started and everyone was beyond busy trying to keep their mental stability in check, let alone trying to breathe life into my dream. Eventually the holidays arrived along with much cooler weather and an even cooler attitude toward the Squires program. I was deflated. One student had kept in touch occasionally, but he was primarily busy with school, work, and his kids. My passion for the program ended around the same time as most peoples’ New Year’s resolutions, about a week into January.

    I felt like a failure because I hadn’t been able to keep everyone motivated, that if I had only grabbed a few more individuals’ attention, sent a few more emails to get things moving, then the program would have been well on its way to becoming a long standing tradition at UCF. Most importantly I felt like a failure by letting down Professor Leo who had helped me every step of the way, getting my foot in the door where normally it would have had no business being. I was angry and embarrassed that no one else had picked up the torch of the Squires Program and now it had lost its fire, smoldering on the ground as another failed bright idea.

    It wasn’t until recently that I realized where I had truly failed. I was so focused on succeeding and getting others to get me there that I had lost my own passion for the project. I had created a situation where the success of the program relied solely on the participation and hard work of others. Back when things were moving forward I felt like I had done my part by creating the idea and that it was now up to others to turn it into a resounding success. But it wasn’t up to other people, it was up to me. I knew, and still know, that the program is a fantastically good idea. I know that many students would benefit from a program of this nature and there is no reason for it not to exist. I also know that I was the reason it failed. It wasn’t a lack of participation from others; it was a lack of participation from me. When no one else picked up the torch, I watched it go out instead of quickly grabbing it and running doggedly until I had rekindled interest and lit the fires of my own success .

    The lesson I learned out of this experience is that you can’t rely on other people to make your dreams come true, only you can do that. You can work hard, but when the work itself becomes hard that is when you know just how much you are willing to put into something you claim to care about. You should be willing to take risks, invest the time, and move forward, alone if necessary, if it is something you truly believe in. I’ve learned this lesson, which is why after I graduate this fall I plan on working to implement this program as an alumni of UCF and to become a mentor so others can learn from this, my greatest failure.

  24. Jonathan Smith
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    To my surprise, when I tried to think of my biggest failure, nothing significant jumped out in my mind. For the short twenty three years that I have been on this earth, I have been praised for my successes by my teachers, my parents, and my friends. Everyone was telling me what I wanted to hear. Trophies from my high school sports teams, a congratulatory letter in the mail for having a GPA above a 3.0, the list of praises goes on. All of this made me realize I was blinded by the fact that I do have a life failure. I was not aware I was screwing up my future when I made such small decisions in high school to do things other than study; things that seemed more important or even just more fun at the time. My high school years are my years of biggest regret. I failed to get into the college of my dreams and also failed to have proper study habits because my head was not in the right place during my key years of school. Instead, I was more worried about little pleasures like going out with friends or staying up late playing video games.

    I know it may sound like it, but I do not blame my failure on my parents or my teachers. I take full responsibility for not being the best student I could have been, even though I really wish I had people pushing me to take my education seriously. If I could help high school students in any way I would tell them to take high school seriously. It is a big stepping stone to the next four years of your life and may determine the rest of your life. Reality really sets in when all of your friends are hearing back from the schools they applied to and are getting accepted, while you are sitting there quiet because you have to attend community college.

    This failure of mine has translated into a lesson, as most do; this taught me more than I could ask for. It taught me to not let what seems nice in the moment cloud my judgment and get in the way of what my true goals are. I ended up moving from my community college into a great school, The University of Central Florida, but not getting into my dream college was a failure. I have learned to take what motivates me and imagine myself accomplishing my dreams. Now that I am in my graduating semester, I have finally developed the study skills that I need and transformed my grades and the way I look at education. I believe these skills, that I should have developed sooner, will benefit me throughout the rest of my life. Whether it is graduate school or any type of certifications I may pursue in the future. I have learned from my failure and I hope to show other students my journey so they will not make the same mistakes I did.

  25. Cheng Qiu
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    I still remember five years ago, my first time arrived the United States, passing the customs, an officer said to me: “How are you?”, I was standing there and thinking, What was he talking about? Probably asking my age? Then I answered: “I am 21”. The officer shook his head. Later, I left the airport and felt so hungry, then I walked into a McDonald’s, Looked those picture on the wall, and decided to order No.4 meal, But what I got were four burgers. I left the McDonald’s and went to my hotel helplessly. At that night, I was keeping asking me some same questions: “Why I choose to left my family, friends, job, and familiar hometown, coming to this totally strange country?” I fell asleep with no answers.

    My grandfather is a very successful man and he always tells me “Pain is temporary, Quitting lasts forever.” By following his words, I didn’t give up. I registered a language school at the Seminole State College. Of course, it was not an easy task for me at that time. I studied eight hours each day; trying to memorize fifty new English vocabularies, watching America TV shows, and reading ten pages of English book. Because all the effect I put in, my English had a big improvement after one year. Also, I continued to pursuing my associate degree at the Seminole State College. What goes around comes around. I got my degree after another two years, and then I was transferred to the University of Central Florida. Now, I almost have done my Bachelor degree, and already found an internship afterward.

    Looking back these five years, I have realized that coming to the United States was a right choose. The five years’ experience is a treasure to me. It is dream that adds fullness, variety, and spice to my life and makes it worth living.

  26. This is my story about failure, risk taking, facing adversity, and the power of persistence.
    The US Chapter:
    It was 2010 in New Jersey I was happily living with my Venezuelan girlfriend and my two year old son, feeling on top of the world. I had just sold a small camera shop business which I had built from scratch. I was born in Morocco and most of my family still lives there. In one of my regular calls to my mother, she expressed concern with me regarding her tenant who refused to pay her rent for the past 8 months. She was worried about her livelihood and, like any good son, I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be OK (when in fact I was worried myself). For a few days I thought about ways I could help her, and finally came up with a simple and straight forward solution: buy a few airplane tickets, take my girlfriend and child with me, evict the tenant, build a sustainable business for my mom, and live happily ever after. After all, I was self-confident, a successful business owner and entrepreneur, and a smart risk taker. These were the ingredients for any plan to work. I left the United States feeling empowered and so my nightmare begins.
    The Moroccan Chapter
    Half a day later and jet-lagged, my family and I were standing in the Moroccan airport, holding everything we owned in a 4 piece set of luggage purchased at Sam’s club a few days before, waiting for my family to pick us up. We waited, waited, and waited for three hours in the airport; it was the first sign that my abrupt decision was going to be a disaster. It didn’t take too long to find that out that the troublesome tenant wouldn’t leave unless I paid him 12 months’ rent or face waiting years in the Moroccan legal system. I decided to pay him, and work on a sustainable business for my mom. I built and opened a coffee shop but spent more time arguing with my Moroccan family than growing the business and reached the point where my personal relationship with my mother was deteriorating, and on top of that, my girlfriend was having language and culture barriers. So after a year, we decided to go back to the United States – easy right? Just pack up the same 4 piece set of Sam’s Club luggage and hop on a plane. It was around this time that I discovered that my girlfriend did not have “legal status” when she left the US triggered a 10 year ban from her re-entering the country! I was under a lot of stress, everything around me was collapsing. I had lost almost everything, except for my willingness and determination to do whatever it would take to get my family home. After considerable research and many calls to the US Embassy I was informed that there was a 10 year waiver available, but was very difficult to obtain since one had to prove extreme hardship on a US citizen spouse, and had to be filed in the US consulate in Venezuela.
    The Venezuelan Chapter
    My girlfriend and son took a plane to Venezuela, I took a different plane to the United States in order to start working and be able to finance the project to get my family back and prepare for the immigration process. It took me six months of day and night research, reviewing past cases, and gathering evidence to come out with a 60 page dossier which I was going to file with the US consulate in Venezuela. At the end of it all it took me 2 years and 7 trips to Venezuela to get my family back. I survived two dengue fever bites (mosquito), countless times of food poisoning, one kidnapping attempt, and being dragged out of a bus and detained by the Venezuelan police at 3 am in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle.
    Yes, I failed, I lost many battles. I made to many novice mistakes in my business and personal life. I made the capital error; I made my decision to go to Morocco based on my emotions. I found out that self-confidence can be a great attribute, but it can also lead to failure quickly. I also learned another important lesson; if you care about your family, don’t ever go into business with them, for the simple fact that you won’t have the flexibility to run the business the way you want to and family members won’t differentiate business disagreements with family disagreements. Before you “jump in the water” perform plenty of research; it was a costly mistake (both financially and emotionally) not to find out that my wife was going to be banned for 10 years. At the end I was saved by my determination and persistence, which fueled the most important thing in my life, my family. When facing adversity I regrouped and made a real plan based on facts and rational rather than emotional decisions. Henry Ford said “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Failures are inevitable and people who never failed are those that stay within their comfort zone. With determination comes success. So do I regret my past decisions that led me through this arduous journey? I don’t know if I can answer that question because a big part of who you are today are a result of the past decisions you’ve made and I am no exception. I have learned and experienced many things that some individuals will never experience in their entire lifetime; I visited many countries, made great friends, learned about myself, built a strong bond with my wife, and built immunity to dengue fever.

    Karim Romero

  27. Winelys Lopez
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50
    On a fateful day, I became an independent beauty consultant for one of the largest direct sellers of skin care and cosmetics in the world, Mary Kay. The director had painted a beautiful picture; the dream of becoming my own boss, the pink Cadillac, and ultimately the prestige that accompanied the brand name. In all honesty, she had me at pink Cadillac! I knew I had to put a tremendous amount of effort if I wanted to be successful in my new venture. I spent the next two months educating myself in all things pertaining to sale and marketing. I attended every class (they have their own Mary Kay University!), gained industry specific skills to enhance sales, took notes on marketing calls, and dove head first to learn and experience my product so that there would be no doubt in my mind that the cosmetic line was worth all its praises and more.
    Finally the day of my first makeover party had arrived and I was nervous but extremely excited and eager to unleash all I learned. After so much careful planning and execution of my strategy to target a specific market segment I thought this was it. My debut as an independent beauty consultant had been flawless; unfortunately, I hadn’t reach my goal that day and that pink Cadillac seemed a little farther away. My self-confidence was shaken and my disappointment gnawed away at my ability to move past it.
    For the next couple of months I planned more makeovers hoping that things would turn around for the better. But as each and every one of those makeovers passed, my disappointment grew to the point I did not understand what was going on. “What was I doing wrong?” I kept asking myself over and over trying to come up with an answer that could solve my problem. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and before I knew it I was unable to keep my title as an independent beauty consultant.
    Looking back I realize I was blinded to see past the letdown and defeat in myself for not trying harder, going further to find a glimmer of hope that would have kept me going. I failed to believe in myself and gave up too easily after a couple of setbacks. Giving up was my biggest failure, but I don’t regret the experience because it helped me learn to fight for what I believe in and what I want to achieve in my future.

  28. Karim Romero
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    This is my story about failure, risk taking, facing adversity, and the power of persistence.
    The US Chapter:
    It was 2010 in New Jersey I was happily living with my Venezuelan girlfriend and my two year old son, feeling on top of the world. I had just sold a small camera shop business which I had built from scratch. I was born in Morocco and most of my family still lives there. In one of my regular calls to my mother, she expressed concern with me regarding her tenant who refused to pay her rent for the past 8 months. She was worried about her livelihood and, like any good son, I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be OK (when in fact I was worried myself). For a few days I thought about ways I could help her, and finally came up with a simple and straight forward solution: buy a few airplane tickets, take my girlfriend and child with me, evict the tenant, build a sustainable business for my mom, and live happily ever after. After all, I was self-confident, a successful business owner and entrepreneur, and a smart risk taker. These were the ingredients for any plan to work. I left the United States feeling empowered and so my nightmare begins.
    The Moroccan Chapter
    Half a day later and jet-lagged, my family and I were standing in the Moroccan airport, holding everything we owned in a 4 piece set of luggage purchased at Sam’s club a few days before, waiting for my family to pick us up. We waited, waited, and waited for three hours in the airport; it was the first sign that my abrupt decision was going to be a disaster. It didn’t take too long to find that out that the troublesome tenant wouldn’t leave unless I paid him 12 months’ rent or face waiting years in the Moroccan legal system. I decided to pay him, and work on a sustainable business for my mom. I built and opened a coffee shop but spent more time arguing with my Moroccan family than growing the business and reached the point where my personal relationship with my mother was deteriorating, and on top of that, my girlfriend was having language and culture barriers. So after a year, we decided to go back to the United States – easy right? Just pack up the same 4 piece set of Sam’s Club luggage and hop on a plane. It was around this time that I discovered that my girlfriend did not have “legal status” when she left the US triggered a 10 year ban from her re-entering the country! I was under a lot of stress, everything around me was collapsing. I had lost almost everything, except for my willingness and determination to do whatever it would take to get my family home. After considerable research and many calls to the US Embassy I was informed that there was a 10 year waiver available, but was very difficult to obtain since one had to prove extreme hardship on a US citizen spouse, and had to be filed in the US consulate in Venezuela.
    The Venezuelan Chapter
    My girlfriend and son took a plane to Venezuela, I took a different plane to the United States in order to start working and be able to finance the project to get my family back and prepare for the immigration process. It took me six months of day and night research, reviewing past cases, and gathering evidence to come out with a 60 page dossier which I was going to file with the US consulate in Venezuela. At the end of it all it took me 2 years and 7 trips to Venezuela to get my family back. I survived two dengue fever bites (mosquito), countless times of food poisoning, one kidnapping attempt, and being dragged out of a bus and detained by the Venezuelan police at 3 am in the middle of the Venezuelan jungle.
    Yes, I failed, I lost many battles. I made to many novice mistakes in my business and personal life. I made the capital error; I made my decision to go to Morocco based on my emotions. I found out that self-confidence can be a great attribute, but it can also lead to failure quickly. I also learned another important lesson; if you care about your family, don’t ever go into business with them, for the simple fact that you won’t have the flexibility to run the business the way you want to and family members won’t differentiate business disagreements with family disagreements. Before you “jump in the water” perform plenty of research; it was a costly mistake (both financially and emotionally) not to find out that my wife was going to be banned for 10 years. At the end I was saved by my determination and persistence, which fueled the most important thing in my life, my family. When facing adversity I regrouped and made a real plan based on facts and rational rather than emotional decisions. Henry Ford said “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Failures are inevitable and people who never failed are those that stay within their comfort zone. With determination comes success. So do I regret my past decisions that led me through this arduous journey? I don’t know if I can answer that question because a big part of who you are today are a result of the past decisions you’ve made and I am no exception. I have learned and experienced many things that some individuals will never experience in their entire lifetime; I visited many countries, made great friends, learned about myself, built a strong bond with my wife, and built immunity to dengue fever.

  29. Frank Montes de Oca
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    Effort leaves two outcomes, success and failure. The former brings us joy and fills us with pride, while the latter tells us that something need be fixed in order to achieve a different result the following time. I am certainly no stranger to the latter. Oddly enough success itself can lead us to failure. I have failed plenty, and more than anything I have failed to understand that perceived success has always blinded me and filled me with arrogance and pride. Even to this day sometimes I fail to realize that my success has never been only mine and that I must always depend on others around me to propel forward.
    My whole life I have never been forced to work harder than the person next to me. Didn’t study for a test? So what I’ll get an A like I always do. Forgot to practice for my Interview? Who cares, I’ll just charm my way into the position. I confused my past success for being an indicator of future results. I learned the opposite right away during my first quarter as a Banker for Bank of America. Like I said things always came easily and I assumed mastering sales and proficiency in banking would be no different. I, like always, selfishly and full of pride I went about my business and had tunnel vision; focusing constantly on sales and meeting numbers instead of how to better myself as a Financial sales person. My first full quarter I finished 65 percent to goal in my metrics and fell last among my entire market. It was not only the biggest embarrassment of my professional career but the worst part is I saw it happening and did nothing to stop it.
    See I failed to understand that without opening myself to the people around me, I would always be another one in seven billion. I failed to realize that more critical than knowledge is the passion to understand how to grow from it and apply that. This stems from lack of understanding that what I believed to have been success, was indeed toxic. It was a chronic syndrome that plagued me from elementary school and to this day sometimes rears its ugly head around. What’s the solution? Well I wish I knew for certain. Although more than anything I know this, come second time around I was willing to listen. During the second quarter I allowed the walls around me to come down and I allowed those closest to me to contribute to helping shape the Frank that badly needed to exist. I finished the quarter 145 percent to goal and finished top 5 amongst all bankers in my market.
    Although I haven’t turned a corner completely and morphed myself into the man who will accomplish the great things he aspires to, I get closer every day. It’s simply because I now listen to those around me. See every person who’s touched my life makes a difference and that was something I refused to believe before. Where before I would even dismiss the opinions of others I know cherish them, even if they contradict what I believe. So of course I have failed, and as such I have succeeded. I have accomplished the task of learning that I will always need to depend on others to move forward. I always believed myself to have been successful in my endeavors. Unfortunately “success is a lousy teacher, it seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose,” Bill Gates. Failure helped me open my eyes, and I don’t plan on shutting them any time soon.

  30. Ignacio Hernandez
    Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    This essay is about my biggest failure and how it changed my philosophical view on success. I have had an intense passion in web programming ever since I was in high school. I taught myself every facet of coding from the different programming languages to working with databases. My mission has always been to create a website of value. I had a great idea in late 2012 which involved creating a real estate website with virtual borders around every city in the United States. I managed to perfect it several weeks later using trigonometry; I will spare the details. I was stoked and dubbed it “The world’s first virtual real estate forum”. I decided to make the website public on June 26 2013, in addition I told my family and friends about it. I also spent several hundred dollars on marketing in advance for that date.
    It was now June 26, 2013 and it was ShowTime. I was convinced that this was my moment of success and rehearsed it in my mind how everything would play out. My family, friends and others would register then share my website and before I knew it the network effect would start to take place. I think in an ideal world that is how it would go. This is not an ideal world and in this world my moment of success was a disaster. I was a perfectionist therefore I always thought that if I add, edit or reconfigure more then the overall product would be better. The night before my website became public I changed a lot of things around and somehow it affected the connection to the database. The short story is that people could not register and all the money that I spent on marketing was essentially wasted. This was supposed to be my big moment and I failed to deliver when it counted.
    I took some time to reflect on my failure and learned so much from it. My new favorite word now is tenacity because that is the biggest secret to success. Tenacity to me means to have relentless determination, perseverance and to keep on moving forward. I learned that failure is nothing more than a learning experience. Failure is an opportunity to show your mettle. I would not have had all of these insights if it wasn’t for me failing big. I am now more at ease because I know that failure is not the end unless you let it be. I learned that for every big success there are many failures that occur before it. I am no longer a perfectionist because I realize that some mistakes are bound to happen if you do something enough.
    I would like to conclude this by saying that failure is not negative it is a prerequisite for success. I would hope that others revisit their moments of failure and try to extract lessons from it so that they can grow.

  31. Ignacio Hernandez
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    This essay is about my biggest failure and how it changed my philosophical view on success. I have had an intense passion in web programming ever since I was in high school. I taught myself every facet of coding from the different programming languages to working with databases. My mission has always been to create a website of value. I had a great idea in late 2012 which involved creating a real estate website with virtual borders around every city in the United States. I managed to perfect it several weeks later using trigonometry; I will spare the details. I was stoked and dubbed it “The world’s first virtual real estate forum”. I decided to make the website public on June 26 2013, in addition I told my family and friends about it. I also spent several hundred dollars on marketing in advance for that date.

    It was now June 26, 2013 and it was ShowTime. I was convinced that this was my moment of success and rehearsed it in my mind how everything would play out. My family, friends and others would register then share my website and before I knew it the network effect would start to take place. I think in an ideal world that is how it would go. This is not an ideal world and in this world my moment of success was a disaster. I was a perfectionist therefore I always thought that if I add, edit or reconfigure more then the overall product would be better. The night before my website became public I changed a lot of things around and somehow it affected the connection to the database. The short story is that people could not register and all the money that I spent on marketing was essentially wasted. This was supposed to be my big moment and I failed to deliver when it counted.

    I took some time to reflect on my failure and learned so much from it. My new favorite word now is tenacity because that is the biggest secret to success. Tenacity to me means to have relentless determination, perseverance and to keep on moving forward. I learned that failure is nothing more than a learning experience. Failure is an opportunity to show your mettle. I would not have had all of these insights if it wasn’t for me failing big. I am now more at ease because I know that failure is not the end unless you let it be. I learned that for every big success there are many failures that occur before it. I am no longer a perfectionist because I realize that some mistakes are bound to happen if you do something enough.

    I would like to conclude this by saying that failure is not negative it is a prerequisite for success. I would hope that others revisit their moments of failure and try to extract lessons from it so that they can grow.

  32. Catherine Abbott
    Instructor: Leo
    Section 50

    As children we grew up around motivational posters plastered all around classrooms with different quotes that were (meant to be) inspirational… most were just overused, tacky and quickly became cliché. Among the many quotes was one of FDR’s most famous: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. If I had let myself absorb and recognize the value behind this statement I may have been able to avoid my greatest failure in life: being controlled by a fear of failure.

    I was raised around an intolerance for mediocrity, which actually complemented my ego for winning quite well. In my mind, I was a winner and I would not settle for anything less. I absolutely loved the recognition I received and I won’t deny I also loved squashing the competition. However, the pressure of maintaining this reputation slowly became more than I could handle but I was still not ready to give up my spotlight.

    I quickly became paralyzed by a fear of failure. Failure was the enemy and I did everything I could to avoid it. I lied to my parents and teachers, I cheated on tests, I constantly made excuses. I was willing to act unethical and step over my peers along the way just to avoid failure. The truth was, I was no longer a winner but just a sore loser.

    I missed out on numerous opportunities just because I was afraid to fail. If I knew the odds were against me, odds are I wasn’t around. I didn’t even want to try if it meant I might fail. My fear created an enormous amount of anxiety and stress and I was visiting therapists in my young teenage years just to handle all of this depression that I had created myself.

    Around my 16th birthday, I received an unmarked, unsigned card from a relative that simply stated another cliché quote: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail”. Suddenly it all seemed to click, the possibility of failure should never stop you from pursuing your passions.

    Failure is an unavoidable part of life and does not define our character. Many iconic CEO’s and celebrities were once failures but have since proven that as long as you maintain your passion for success then moments of failure just become an opportunity for growth and wisdom. In all honesty, I still fear failure but now I have the control and I channel it into maximizing my potential in my daily life. I now know that it is not about what you win, but how you conquer it.

  33. Sophia Dunson
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    As I stared down at my phone, my eyes darted back and forth as I scanned the email that was staring back at me in anticipation of good news. Good news did not ensue—instead I read five of the most dreaded words, “We regret to inform you”. I immediately closed the email. I was in disbelief. At that moment the rejection email from a potential employer was debilitating. I felt defeated and like a world class failure.
    When I returned to college after a seven year absence, I only envisioned success. Straight A’s, engaging professors, and challenging, yet rewarding, class material were all I could see in my academic future. I began my journey at the local community college in an effort to better myself as a more competitive job candidate. I had received some valuable feedback from a prior manager; he advised that I was ideal for management, but I needed a degree to advance. I had been working unfulfilling jobs that paid well for approximately six years. I had made a name for myself as a hard-worker and a top performer, but that was not sufficient in absence of a college degree. When the opportunity to return to college presented itself to me, I seized it. After my first semester at UCF I began the grueling task of looking for an internship and partnered with the Experiential Learning office. I quickly got an interview with a very notable business because of my competitive resume. I was elated. The interview day was grueling. I met with two representatives from four different departments who each asked me six business/behavioral questions. I felt I had done well, until I received the email.
    Following the email I was absolutely discouraged. I had a great work history, decent grades and an inviting personality. I replayed the interview day in my head and could not decipher where I went wrong. Although I was uninspired I continued to interview and received no call backs. Approximately five months later, I was given the opportunity to interview with an iconic American company. The day of the interview I was not nervous at all. I was so disheartened that I had a very indifferent attitude. I met with the hiring manager who was very impressive and we had a great meeting. I left unfazed. I received a call back for a panel interview. The interview went well; yet again, I did not want to get my excitement level up. Summer semester continued, and around mid-July, I got a call back with a job offer to intern in the Audit Services department. My excitement returned with a vengeance.
    When I look back at this experience, I smile. I am in the space now that was intended for me. I am about to graduate and complete my co-op. This experience has both taught me about myself and verified my character. During this journey my ego has taken many hits. Prior to that email I had never been rejected from a job in my adult life. I did not know how to accept this rejection. The only thing that kept me going was my will to never give up. I don’t have quit in me; I have moxie. At times my level of enthusiasm fluctuates, but I will never put up my hands in defeat. I realize now the importance of a “good fit” employer and work relationship. Currently, I have a phenomenal position that has given me unbelievable audit experience and it is difficult to find any negative points about my co-op, because I am so grateful. A main take away that I hope inspires others is to bull doze past obstacles and to actively manage ones’ expectations. That rejection was a failure and exposed me to a great vulnerability, but I know with certainty that I am a calculated risk taker. I will always find solace in the fact that I am unafraid to get in the arena and write my story on the walls despite the failures or humiliation I may face; those who do not take risk will never know a heart as fierce as mine.

  34. Brandon Fields
    Christopher Leo
    Section: 50

    Immediately after graduating high school I enrolled in a local community college in Jacksonville with hopes of attending the University of Central Florida. My sights were so set that I did not bother visiting or applying to any other colleges. I had an incredibly strong draw to Orlando and the UCF lifestyle and had my mind made up before even setting foot on campus, I knew if I were to get a degree it would come from UCF.
    I decided to drive down and make my first campus visit about a year before I finished my associates, I have to tell you I was hooked! I went from really wanting to attend here, to dropping everything in my life completely and devoting myself to making it in as quickly as possible. I got so excited I went ahead and sent in my application prior to receiving my Associates in Arts degree. In my mind I was already out of Jacksonville living the college life, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and checked my admission status almost compulsively until finally I got the message. “Your application for admission to the University of Central Florida has been carefully considered by the Admissions staff. Due to the academic strength of this year’s applicant pool, we regret that we are unable to offer you admission for….” I was completely embarrassed and totally dejected. I guess the best way to describe it is dedicating everything you have into a relationship and they tell you that you just are not what they are looking for. I was emotionally dumped from the only school I considered was hard to take, my grandmother was so sure I was getting in she bought me a UCF sweater that taunted me and made ashamed every time I opened my closet. I had dedicated myself so much to the idea that once I was rejected I was completely empty with very little motivation to do anything.
    I was at a point of giving up, when I applied I had a 4.0 GPA and really couldn’t see any way of improving. Many of my friends, some of whom I believed were better qualified were also being turned away from Central Florida. At this point I began to doubt myself and question if I would ever get in. I took a semester off because I was depressed and really was only going to school to become a Knight, with no backup plan for a fallback school I really had no desire to finish at community college if my dream school wouldn’t take me.
    With less than a month until I graduate from the University of Central Florida it is pretty obvious how the story ends but looking back I could not be happier with the journey. I know how it feels to fail, likewise I know how it feels to truly earn something, it would have been very easy to give up and not reapply. I learned if you want something badly enough, with enough effort you can get it regardless of how many times you’re turned down in the process.

  35. Madeline Fateon
    Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    I was raised in a country of few opportunities; where there aren’t that many young
    children that have the chance to go to school as they do in America. It’s common in America that
    you are required to provide some kind of education to your children. In rural and urban areas in
    Haiti, there are many children that are sent to work or kept home to help care for their younger
    siblings. Knowing that he never went to school, my dad didn’t want the same life for his children.
    He didn’t want us to have to live without taking advantage of the many opportunities that life
    presents to us. My dad decided that it was time that he change the fate of one generation so he
    stopped at nothing to bring the entire family here to the United States. Even though, he knew that
    it would be a challenge moving the entire family to a country where he knew no one and had no
    financial support. He first went to enroll us in Blanker Middle School and they told him that we
    wouldn’t be accepted because we didn’t speak English and it would be better that we enrolled at
    another school. My parents listened and left without saying a word. My dad knew that education
    would be the key for us to have a better life, so he encouraged us to pursuit our dreams and goals no matter how unreachable they may seem.

    One of my greatest accomplishments was when I graduated from high school and I was accepted into college. I realized at that moment what my parents had sacrificed in order for me to be where I am today. Like many freshman I was so excited; being in school was an experience of its own. One of my very first electives that I took as a freshmen was Intro to Humanities. I would never have realized that this class would change me or learn anything more in this class than the concepts of the contemporary American Culture. The professor decided to do a little exercise in order for everyone to learn about each other. He told the class, “All the students that graduated from Jones High School, Evans High School and Oakridge High School stand up.”Granted I wasn’t sure how this question would be relevant. Since I graduated from Jones, I stood up. Amongst these three schools seven of us stood up. He then said, “Class look at these students because none of them would pass my class.”The only thought in my mind was that it might have been a hoax and there would be no way that a professor would humiliate us like he did. In that moment, other people’s failure became my own. It was either I embraced or change my fate. I sat the entire class thinking if his course would be hard to pass and he had already classified me in this no win category then there could be no chance for me. I decided to talk to him after class because I wanted to put my mind at ease. Maybe the professor had a bigger plan in mind and he hadn’t yet shared it with the class. As I was expressing my concerns with two others students, the professor told us that “it’s true every year I get many students from these schools and only one or two pass my class, so we need to face the fact we are not going to pass his class too.”I was speechless because no matter how much I tried to defend myself, the fact remained that he already had this perceived notion built up about us and we wouldn’t be able to change his mind.

    At our next class meeting, we were informed that 6 students dropped out of his class
    including the two that came to speak with him and four others. I decided to stay despite of what
    the professor said about us. I had overcome so many obstacles to be able to sit in that chair, so I
    was not about to let it go without fighting. I ended with a B in the class and I have learned that
    nothing comes easy in this life and I must have faith in myself first. I want to be able to tell my
    daughter someday to never give up on her dreams even though others doesn’t believe in her,
    anything is possible if she trust and believe in herself.

  36. WIlliam Walker
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    I  heard the warnings about the dangers of texting and driving, but thought ” it couldn’t happen to me”.  One day a few years ago I had just gotten off of work and got into my car and buckled up and continued to exit the parking lot.  There are multiple exits and I wasn’t going home as usual, so I used the more unfamiliar side exit ( which is a four-way intersection ) this occasion.  As I was leaving the lot I stopped at the stop sign and looked both ways and the coast was clear.  Then for a split second glanced down at my cell phone and continued through what I assumed was a four-way stop, then Bam! I had crashed into an incoming vehicle.  The intersection was only a three-way stop sign, not a four-way like I had assumed. Although the wreck happened when I was coming out of a parking lot and I was only going about 10 mph while the other vehicle was going about 20 mph my car was totaled.  The other person and car were ok.  I felt ashamed and guilty for the damage I had caused.  From that day on I became a different driver.

    The incident affected me in a few different ways.  It has made me more mindful of my actions, especially the little things.  Many of us are guilty of ” going through the motions” or mindlessly multi-tasking to save time or do a bit extra.  Practicing mindfulness in everyday situations has become a pleasant practice for me.  Take eating, for example, instead of scarfing down a sandwich in 5 minutes while reading the paper and listening to music at he same time and not being mindful of my actions, I try to savor every bite.  I try to be mindful of the sacrifices made by the farmer to grow the lettuce, onions, and tomatoes.  The baker who woke up in the early hours to make this bread which is nourishing my body.  Practicing mindfulness helps me better appreciate life. Not to mention it has helped increase my test scores!

    As a result of the accident I have now become a no texting and driving advocate.  Whenever I am in a car with friends, family, or co-workers and witness them using their phone while driving I honestly tell them how dangerous it is.  I offer to ” let me do that, you’re driving”  or  “you really shouldn’t text and drive” have become second nature to me.  I tell them that one-second of “zoning out”  is all it takes.  Luckily in my case no one was hurt, but my car was considered totaled by the insurance company and I had to go through the hassle of switching cars ( Insurance, registration, license plate, etc.)   Maybe what I say to them will stick.  

    This was a setback that turned into a great lesson.  As a result, I am a safer driver and hopefully make the people I ride with a bit safer.  I will forever continue to advocate safe driving habits because I know first hand they do make a difference.  The wreck forced me to take a step back and showed me and different perspective on life.  In one moment your whole life could change.  So its paramount to try to pay attention and be mindful of our actions because all it takes is a second.  

  37. Levi Nonnemacher
    Christopher Leo
    Section: 85

    When I was 12 years old my family moved from Sunrise, FL to Ocala, FL. At the time, I was a straight-A student, or at least on the honor roll, having little trouble in school. Once we made that move, a lot changed. I went from being an honor student to becoming a lazy teenager who didn’t want to work hard. While I never failed a class in school, I saw my grades and work ethic slip away. It wasn’t that the schoolwork was difficult. Often times, I would decide to put little effort into my work and occasionally failed to turn in homework. I gambled on the notion that I would pass the class even if I didn’t turn in my homework. For me, watching TV and playing video games was more important.

    When I got to high school, I spent the first couple of years taking classes that were overly simplistic to me. My grades in middle school weren’t good enough to get me into all the honors courses. Fortunately, I overcame this slump and finished out my high school years strong, taking honors courses and AP classes.

    However, the laziness bug that got me in middle school reappeared when I started college. I began to take classes at the College of Central Florida in Ocala. I wasn’t ignoring my homework anymore, but I procrastinated. When it came time to schedule my classes, it was to late to get into some of the required courses. This problem plagued me a couple of times, forcing me to push back my graduation a couple of semesters.

    After receiving my AA degree, I was ready to quit on school altogether. I took a year off from school to rest my mind. I was tired of taking classes. However, my parents didn’t like the idea of me giving up at that point. They pushed me to transfer to UCF. I was reluctant at first and almost missed my first semester at UCF due to yet another scheduling issue.

    After this, I finally decided to become more proactive in my life. My enrollment at UCF became a turning point. I became motivated to graduate like never before. This attitude has helped me excel over the past couple of years, and not just in school. I’ve since become more active, both physically and mentally. I no longer ignore my problems. I came to learn that, not only do actions have consequences, but so does inaction.

  38. Naderge St.Fleur
    Section 50
    Professor Christopher Leo

    “Failure is not an option”. How can I forget my high school’s motto? It was embedded in our brains through our teachers, our handbooks, as well as the morning announcements. To add to insult, I will never forget those t-shirts we were forced to weary every Friday as if we were advocates for the school. They were an ugly green with the motto written in a huge neon yellow print. Little did I know what these very same words would mean to me a few years later.
    I graduated high school and was the first of my family to ever go to college. As my parents hugged and kissed my goodbye from my new dorm room, it felt good to be on my own. I wanted so much to prove to them that I could handle the responsibilities of being an adult. Within a few months into the semester, I had to make a dreaded call home. It was a parent’s worst nightmare that I had gotten pregnant. Not only did I have to move back home, I was then forced to marry the baby’s father because of our culture’s strictness.
    Marriage was definitely not what I thought it would be. It was also not your ideal situation. We were young and inexperienced. Juggling school, work, and a baby was not part of my future plans. We couldn’t deal with the everyday pressures of being a parent. Suddenly, the reality of it all came crushing down. Within a year, we were separated followed by a painful divorce. It was the worst part of my life. I had stopped going to school. My self-esteem and my confidence was at an all-time low. It had gotten so bad that my parents had to step in and take care of my child. I felt like a failure as a student, a daughter and a wife. Most importantly, I felt like a failure as a mother.
    Fast forward several years later, I was living a regular life but never felt whole again. My son was getting older. By then, I had learned to just take it a day at a time. My parents were a tremendous help by letting me live with them rent free. One day as I was cleaning out my closet, I ran across a box that I saved all my high school souvenirs. So I sat down on the bed and went through the items. As I was reminiscing about the good old days, my eyes caught attention to a clear plastic bag. In it was that old green ugly shirt again. I pulled it out of the plastic bag. In that same bold neon color it read, “Failure is not an option”. Instantly, that was my epiphany moment. To myself I said, “Wow, why haven’t I ever taken those words into heart?” Suddenly, I knew what I had to do.
    That same Monday morning, I went to Valencia College and re-enrolled myself back into school. Before you knew it, I had obtained my A.A. degree. From then on, I slowly started gaining my confidence and self-esteem back. My parents were very proud of my efforts. I then went on to my current alma mater UCF. Along the way, I’ve made countless new friends, met many great professors, and participated in many school functions. I had a whole new purpose to life. I had wanted to reverse the roles and have my now 14 year old son be proud of his mother. For me, if I wanted my son to also do something great with his life, I had to also practice what I preached. There is an old saying, “when you know better, you do better because knowledge is power”. One set back in life does not mean the end of life. So as I walk across that stage on December 13th of UCF’s Fall commencement, I plan to give homage to my high school. On the top of my graduation cap it will read, “Failure was not my option”.

  39. Sean Howell
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section 50

    The family business can either be a stressful obligation or an opportunity of a lifetime. Mine has always been an opportunity of a lifetime and what felt like one of my greatest failures was not being able to commit myself to this opportunity. My dads company Cinemoves, which he started from the ground up deals with film equipment rentals. They own a wide variety of film equipment for motion pictures that they rent to production companies for feature films, commercials, music videos, live events and any other necessities. In 2011 they were the largest privately owned motion picture rental company in the industry, so that being said the opportunity could not have been at a better time.

    I attended Valencia to attain my AA and had originally planned to transfer to UCF to continue my education. During my final year at Valencia in 2011 I made the decision that I wanted to discontinue my formal education and start working in the family business. My dad was more than supporting because he was more than excited to have me follow in his footsteps. I made the move back home to become fully implemented into the company system. I traveled more than I could imagine and was working great hours making great money. The outsiders view of this job is nothing but amazing. I truly did enjoy it but there was always a void that I wasn’t able to fill.

    I enjoyed working but felt my youth wasn’t their anymore. I feel selfish and spoiled to say that but if I have the choice to keep it as long as possible should I feel guilty? I was working full time and all of my co-workers were adults with families. I was clearly the youngest technician in the industry and that has its benefits because I was starting younger than most. This is something I knew I needed to take advantage of considering experience is so valuable in this industry.

    All of this being said I knew this wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life yet. I had thought that I was ready to work and take the responsibility of continuing this legacy that had been created. I felt I was failing my dad and other family members that worked within Cinemoves. I didn’t want to work in the company anymore because I felt I was missing out on experience that I didn’t feel I could ever get back. I failed the company and my dad by not pursuing this opportunity at that time.

    I knew deep down that I wanted Cinemoves in my future but wasn’t ready. To overcome this failure I decided to attend UCF to earn my Bachelors in Business Management. I want to take this formal education that my dad never received back to the company and take it to new levels. It was a win situation for all because I was able to live my youth with other like minded peers yet still moving in the right direction for my future.

    I learned that nothing is more important than your happiness, and you shouldn’t feel guilty because you’re not in the position do what others expect of you at certain times.

  40. Karolina Javaheri
    Instructor: Christopher Leo
    Section Number: 50

    It’s May 23, 2008. High school graduation day. I’ve been working toward this for four long years and it’s finally over. I’m officially an adult. I was now a high school graduate, 18 years old, and ready for the real world. I felt prepared to jump into the workforce head first and also work on earning my college degree. If only I had known then what I know now. In hindsight, it was actually the beginning of the milestone that would shape me into the person I am today.

    My mother and father were UCF alumni so it was only natural that I wanted to follow in their footsteps. I was accepted to the University of Central Florida with a full scholarship from Bright Futures. During my senior year of high school, I had a part time job in retail and was offered a full time position before starting college. I decided to take on the challenge of working full time and attending UCF full time. I refused to remain on a $15 per week allowance.

    I started my first semester with a great deal of confidence and with full pockets from my full-time job. I was involved in a rigorous college preparation program called International Baccalaureate in high school. My first day of classes, thus, felt as if they would be a walk in the park. It was all smiles and introductions.

    As time passed, I felt as if my workplace became my second home. I made new friends at work and began to spend more and more time with them. I became preoccupied with anything other than academia. My mother had warned me about taking this road. I knew she meant well but I wanted to prove to her that I could handle it. I went through the first month of classes and work without a hitch. I really felt as if I was living the dream. Until, I had my first taste of reality. I had my first test of my college career to prepare for and had to work every day prior to the test. I attempted to study in between shifts but couldn’t manage the time. I went into my exam exhausted and unprepared. Needless to say, I really dropped the ball. I refused to reconsider my priorities and felt I could make it work next time. Except, next time was more of the same. It became the norm rather than an exception in a less than stellar semester.

    The end of the second semester came and I was placed on academic probation. The first thought that came to mind was how I was going to break the news to my mother. I knew she would be so disappointed in me. Above all else, I was most disappointed in myself.

    The gloves are off. I decided to take a semester off. I needed to reevaluate who I was and what I truly wanted out of life. I didn’t know what other options I had left. I’d lost my scholarship, my confidence and myself. It was time to start over. I decided to work part-time and register for Valencia Community College. I earned less working part-time, therefore I needed to be wiser with finances considering I now had to pay tuition out of pocket. I learned how to manage my time sensibly and always held my class work as my first priority. I registered full-time until I received my Associates degree while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. I had successfully made it over my first hurdle.

    After receiving my Associates degree, I was faced to decide whether it would be the end of the road for me. I continued contemplating whether to reapply to UCF. I still felt embarrassed and ashamed. How could I even attempt to reapply after the impression I left? However, I didn’t make it this far not to try. I completed the readmission form and handed it to the Registrar’s Office. I knew there was no guarantee but I felt as if I needed to give them a better impression of who I was other than the history of my academic failure they already had on file. I picked up the phone and asked to speak to someone in the readmission department. After I verified that my application was received, I asked for a second chance. I expressed that it was not just an application to me but a second chance to turn my life around. Until this day, I’m not even sure if that made any difference.

    The gloves are back on. I received an acceptance letter from the University of Central Florida and I couldn’t have felt more driven. I now knew that the university believed in me as well. Here was my second chance and I wouldn’t let them or myself down. Since my re-acceptance, I have transformed my academic performance. I have earned a place on the Dean’s list several times throughout the past two years. I have grown as a person and have matured in realizing that age does not provide you with the necessary skills and mentality to succeed in life. It takes sacrifice, reevaluation and perseverance, skills you sometimes learn by experiencing a failure but also by overcoming it.

    In exactly one month and 6 days from today, I am graduating with my bachelors from the University of Central Florida. I did it! Although I know there will be more challenges to come, I am prepared to fight until I overcome them. The gloves are on for good.

  41. John A. Olivares
    Instructor: Cristian Alecse
    Section: 13

    How I Overcame a Failure with a Catastrophe

    Seventeen years ago I graduated high school as a C average student, at best. Soon after, I attended Valencia Community College. Due to the results of my placement exam, I had to take two unaccredited math courses. Needless to say I was not good at math which made me feel like a failure. After a short time, I decided to make an attempt at a career in sales; balancing work and school was very difficult, so I chose a career. After several failed attempts at promising careers, I realized I had to increase my human capital, I had to add value to myself. With a 10 year hiatus from college, I was reluctant to start over. I had been convinced by many that college is not for everyone and that there are many college graduates unable to find decent careers. Although it had always been a dream of mine to have a college degree and be an example for my kids, I was all but convinced that I was done with school and this made me feel like a failure again. I figured I would work a regular entry level job and try to work my way up. Then, I had an epiphany, I am much more capable then I gave myself credit for. I have the ability, the opportunity, and the means to be much more. I should not squander it simply because life did not work out the way I expected it to.

    Going back to school in my thirties does not have to feel wrong. As long as I am breathing, I can achieve my dreams. With this new found drive and motivation I began again. I finished my AA degree at Valencia College with a 3.5 GPA. Although I had achieved my dream of having a degree, I knew that this was not it for me. I took that hunger and momentum and I started attending UCF the following semester. A sense of empowerment came over me. I realized that I no longer worried if I could achieve my goals, all I thought about is what do I really want to do, because once I set my focus on it, I would not stop until I achieved it. I was relentless. I lead my team to win the Cornerstone Social Entrepreneurship Competition during my first semester at UCF. I felt as if super powers were surging through me. After five semesters of straight A’s at UCF, I could not be stopped.

    My friends, my family, my two kids and my expectant wife could not have been prouder. I felt like their hero. Little did I know I was about to face my darkest moment. During Finals week of my 5th semester, my wife and I lost our expected son a week before his due date. Our world had fallen apart. How do we continue? We were lost. Why us? The choices I have made in life that have attributed to my failures were choices that I could accept, but I did not choose to lose my son. I can overcome my failures, but how do I overcome my broken heart. With every ounce of me that I had left, I knew that I must carry on. I had others who depend on me. I could not give up. As I write this, I am 32 days, 6 hours, 22 minutes and 4 seconds away from achieving my dream of a bachelor’s degree and begin a career worth having. I currently have a 3.9 GPA, I have been invited to 5 honor societies, I am planning on competing in the Great Capstone Competition, and on target to graduate with a Cum Laude. I have embraced my failures, and because of that I have learned, adapted and evolved. As happy as I will be when I graduate with my family and friends supporting me, part of me will not smile as big, cheer as loud or feel as complete without my son, Miles. After all my failures and catastrophe, I no longer doubt myself or put off what I truly want. I have learned to never stop trying, regardless of the obstacles I come across.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s