How To Win At Failing

Everyone fails. It is part of life. Rather than pretend it won’t happen, you should count on it and know what you will do to recover from it. Getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk–taker and successful leader. That is why we celebrate failure and persistence in the college. Today, we begin the twelfth  installment of our Failure Competition. Entering our competition is simple:

  • Write an account of a failure you have experienced in the past. Your failure story has to focus on a time you stepped out of your comfort zone to experience something new: the farther the better. Tell us why this was such a stretch for you, the failure that resulted and what you learned from the experience that would be of interest to others. It needs to be genuine, people can spot a fish story a mile way.
  • While the Failure Competition began with students in our capstone class, it is now open to any UCF student on campus: undergraduate, graduate or EMBA, business, education, engineering or whatever. The only requirement is that you currently be enrolled at UCF. About a year ago, we had a music student win the competition.
  • Need inspiration or guidance to tell your story? Search my blog. We have posted many stories about failure over the years.

Here are the ground rules, complete with important deadlines:

To enter you must post your essay in response to this blog. If you are a capstone student this semester include your section number and name of your instructor. If you are not in this class, tell me your class standing ( e.g., freshman, senior, graduate student) and your field of study. You must complete this exercise by 5 pm on Friday November 10th. Don’t Worry If You Don’t See it Right Away. I Have to Accept It

 A panel of College staff will choose no more than five finalists for me to consider. I will select three finalists by November 13th at 5 pm.

The finalists will be asked to submit short videos based on their essays. Those videos must be sent to me by 5 pm on November 21st.

I will then feature one video each day on my blog starting November 27th with a vote by everyone reading my blog taking place to determine the winner on Friday December 1st.

The winner will get a letter of recommendation from me along with a $500 prize. Second place will get $300, third place $200. These monies are awarded through our financial aid office.

Good Luck

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “How To Win At Failing

  1. My most recent significant failure was not getting into UCF sooner. I have a few stories since then that involve me learning about my shortcomings. But this is my most influential story of how one should learn from their mistakes and seek out as much help as possible. There was not a day that went by when I was not thinking of UCF. There is a reservoir of after-school activities, beautiful women/men, and numerous opportunities. When I arrive at UCF, I told myself, ” I will feel like a wolf, lusting for whatever he can get his paws on.” I hated seeing all my former high school buddies having fun at college because I was just working and going to school. I wanted in on that fun too. Finally, after three years of community college and working through college, I made it. The main reason why it took me so long was due to mathematics. The first time I failed Intermediate Algebra I accepted my failure and tried it again. Instead of taking action I was very passive in my learning. Something that one should not do if they fail a class. So eventually the third time I passed Intermediate Algebra with a C because I got tutoring for 25 dollars an hour. I just barely achieved. A year later, came College Algebra and I met an even better tutor who went out of his way to Skype me and assisted me online after tutoring me in person at school. That guy’s name is Raul. He was one of the most selfless people when it came to helping others because he did it all for free. However, after all my hard work I failed, yet again. I was devastated because I saw Knightro and the rest of the school fading before my very eyes. My eyes were as one can imagine, big as marbles. I even apologized to Raul, and I felt like I let him down. With even more help from I took the class over and passed with a B! Something I never had in a math class. When I took my final math class: Liberal Arts Math. For my Associate in Arts, Degree I would study night and day even fighting sleep via coloring. Through my efforts I passed that math class too. I also made friends with my professor because I utilized him as much as I could. Now as of 2017 I am at UCF, and I think it rocks!

  2. Gabriel Cabral
    DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program, Senior

    I faced several obstacles and failed multiple times to get into the DeVos Sport Business Management Program. I graduated with my undergraduate degree in business administration from UCF in December of 2013. I was considering graduate programs, but I wasn’t sure what program or school to pursue after obtaining my undergraduate degree. After doing some research I stumbled across the DeVos Sport Business Management Program here at UCF. It was a gift from heaven as this was the perfect program for me. I could combine both of my passions which are sports and business and pursue a career in the sport business world. After doing further research I fell in love with this program and what it stands for. The 4 pillars which the DeVos program embodies are ethics, diversity, leadership, and community.

    When I finally came to the decision to apply to the DeVos program unfortunately it was too late as their application was due by mid-January. Although I missed the application deadline, this gave me a whole year to prepare and study for the GMAT, as well as gain more experience in the sport business world. I took both private and public tutoring sessions to prepare for the GMAT but unfortunately when it came down to take the test my anxiety got the best of me and I failed it. I still put in my application despite my deplorable test score in hopes of getting considered for this prestigious program. Unfortunately, I was not considered because of my test score so I took further action. I wasn’t going to give up on my dream that easily. I emailed everyone possible from the director of the program (Dr. Richard Lapchick), to the dean of the college of business (Dean Paul Jarley), to the founder of the DeVos program, Richard DeVos himself. I called and emailed everyone and anyone that might be able to help me get into the program. One of those emails or phone calls must’ve worked because I got a phone call from the DeVos office later that year to come in for an interview with Dr. Lapchick and Mike Redlick. I couldn’t believe it. This proved to me that persistence and resiliency does pay off.

    On the day of the interview everything went wrong. I came late to the interview because I got lost in this massive campus and during the interview I was so nervous that I could barely speak and express myself properly. I was asked some tough questions that I answered to the best of my knowledge but not even my charisma and dynamic personality could help me during the interview. I thought that I had completely failed that interview like I had failed the GMAT. I went home very discouraged and wrote an email to both Dr. Lapchick and Mike Redlick to thank them for considering me and for the opportunity. I also apologized because I felt that my nerves took over and I didn’t perform as well as I could’ve on the interview. To my surprise they were very impressed with me and gave me a second chance to retake the GMAT. The stipulation was that if I did well on the GMAT I would be granted admission into the program but if not, then I would have to wait until the following year to reapply. I prepared intensively for a whole month for the exam and even my tutor said that I was ready to nail the GMAT. I retook the exam and again my anxiety took over and I failed it for the second time. I felt so discouraged and wanted to give up on my dream. I thought that I would never do good enough on the GMAT because I figured that my anxiety and nerves would always take over. I was unable to join the program that year and felt as though my dreams, goals, and ambitions had been crushed. I felt like a failure.

    Several weeks had passed but the fire and passion that I had in me to pursue my dream stayed alive. After careful consideration, I decided to continue to try and pursue my dream of being a DeVos Sport Business Management student. I believe that with hard work and dedication everything and anything is possible. After taking the exam for the 4th time and spending over $2,000 between the exam and tutoring sessions, I finally got a decent score to be considered for the program. I guess the 4th time is a charm. I emailed Dr. Lapchick regarding my score and he congratulated me on obtaining a score that was good enough to be considered for the program. I applied to the DeVos program for the second time the following year and I got an interview. I can confidently say that the second interview with them went much better than the first, and following the interview Dr. Lapchick said a few words that I will never forget. He told me “We look forward to working with you next year”. I had persevered regardless of the obstacles and circumstances that stood in my way. I am now proud to say that I am a DeVos student and I am honored and blessed to be a part of the best program in the world. My dream is to make an impact in the sport business world and with hard work, dedication, ambition, commitment, and drive I have every intention of making my dream become a reality and persevere just like I did to get into this program. My failures led to my success as I will be graduating this December.

  3. Ethan Ravede
    Class Standing: Senior
    Major: Accounting

    When people write about failure they talk about what how they’ve learned from their mistakes and shortcomings. They talk about how doing things differently the second, third or fourth time around has allowed them to achieve success. The emphasis that people place on the importance of learning and growing is key when one finally does fail, however there is an element to that process that deserves more recognition. Within all of these stories the role of determination and grit has seemingly been lost in the midst of trying to understand failure. Before we can learn and before we can grow, we must have the grit and determination to overcome failure.
    I started playing sports almost as soon as I started walking. My father had me try everything from flag football, to swimming, to hockey, to tennis, and many other recreational sports just so I could experience everything I possibly could. I took tennis and baseball the most seriously and continued playing both until high school where I was faced with a choice between the two (their seasons coincided and I could no longer play both). I picked tennis. For those unfamiliar with the sport, it requires a good amount of agility, dexterity, stamina and most importantly, mental toughness. Matches can be physically draining given the amount of footwork required at a competitive level, but the difficulty lies in the mental fatigue that arises from the countless number of lost points. Like most sports, tennis is a game of failure. Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist in the sport of tennis once said, “As a tennis player, you have to get used to losing every week. Unless you win the tournament, you always go home as a loser. But you have to take the positive out of a defeat and go back to work. Improve to fail better.” So much emphasis is placed on learning from failure that sometimes people overlook one of the simplest yet important details: “…go back to work”. The story of grit and determination that turned my failures into a success begins with that simple idea.
    University High School, Orange City opened its doors as a public school in the fall of 2010. As a freshman on its inauguration day, there were no traditions nor legacies that had been established. That being said, the clubs had technically not even been created yet so there were no teams and especially no tennis team. The first day that spring sports were supposed to begin, myself and a few others showed up for tennis tryouts but we barely had enough players to compete (a minimum of 5 players are required to form a complete team in high school team tennis). Luckily, the few of us that did show up had played together before. A minor setback, but not a surprise given how brand new the school and the program were. We had no connections with other schools and no actual coach but we worked with the club supervisor to set up matches for the season. We developed our own practice routines without the aid of a coach until our first actual match came around. When that day came we travelled about 40 minutes to our opponent’s school just to be completely defeated. We lost every match that day which included 5 singles matches and 2 doubles matches for a total of 7 losses. It wasn’t the best way to start the season and it definitely wasn’t the best way to start University High School’s tennis legacy. The rest of the season went mediocre at best but we still finished with a losing record. A year went by and we started our second season. We trained individually during the off-season but our morale as a team was at an absolute low after our first season as Titan athletes so we expected little from the upcoming year. A new player appeared at the beginning of spring during our second year of tryouts named Chase. Chase towered over the rest of us, standing tall at 6’7”. He was new to tennis–never having even picked up a racket before–but after tryouts it became clear that he had the athleticism to be a strong member of the team. And before the season officially started, he became my new doubles partner.
    We competed together during the season and immediately had chemistry. We fired each other up whenever there was cause for celebration and we picked each other back up whenever one of us hit a mental roadblock. Our first season together we had a winning record in our district until we faced Seabreeze High School. We did everything we possibly could to win but came up short in the end. All of the losses up until this point were different from this one. It was so discouraging and left us so beaten down because we knew that it was the best we were capable of playing and it still wasn’t enough to win. It was another major blow to our morale but we picked each other up and got back to work. We practiced hard and gained more experience as a doubles team throughout the remainder of the season until the first of two tournaments rolled around: 5-star conference. This tournament consisted largely of the same teams we played during the season but was still a relatively small event organized by one of the schools every year. Among the teams at 5-star conference was Seabreeze High School. We won through to the second day and faced them in the semi-finals. We had improved so much since first playing them that we knew we had a chance at winning and after the first hour we had won the first set and were ahead in the second. We didn’t expect this outcome but before we could get ourselves together they had come back and taken the second set from us. We fought just as hard in the third set but still came up short. We lost, but something was different from the way the first loss was different. The first time we lost to Seabreeze our ego that had been growing all season was deflated, but this time we worked towards a very specific goal and got close enough to success that we could feel it with our fingertips. This loss marked a turning point not only for us as a doubles team but for me and my life. It was the moment where I didn’t allow a failure to leave me low and dejected, but rather I was inspired and eager to get back to work. The memories of the previous season still gnawing at my ego and the fear of having to repeat my failure were overshadowed by a newfound hunger for redemption and victory. We had found a rival, and the idea of facing them was no longer defined by a fear of failure but an excitement of competition. So we went back to work. We had the rest of the season ahead of us but we knew our goal was to beat Seabreeze at the district tournament. It didn’t matter who we played or how strong they were as a team, we were determined more than anything to face them on a real stage of competition and win. We practiced longer and more frequently as we began setting up our own practices outside of school. We started having weekend practices with a local pro as well because we needed actual guidance along with technical instruction. When the district tournament came around we won through to the second day of competition where we faced Seabreeze in the finals. Our spirits lifted having reached the stage we were aiming for, we played with a desire to win and something else that we didn’t have before–confidence. The parts of our game that we worked on most came together perfectly during the match. We were returning every serve and being more aggressive at the net. We got fired up every time we won a point and didn’t allow the frustration of a lost point to carry over to the next. Our team and families were there for support and I’m sure they could see our desire to win transform into passion. We took the first set by a wide margin and lost the second set in a tiebreaker. It was down the 3rd set again but we were no longer afraid of losing and no longer afraid of failure.
    We started a tennis team at a school with no existing programs or teams, no existing legacy, no traditions. Even after our first season, the only traditions we had developed were those of loss and mediocrity. We had faced failure so many times and picked each other up so many times already that all that was left for us was to keep going. Chase and I won in the third set against Seabreeze and took the first ever district title for our team and for University High School that afternoon in Sanlando Park. We learned from all of our failures and grew into a winning team but it took the grit and determination to get back up.

  4. Lisamarie Alexandre
    Junior
    Accounting
    Being concise is not my strong suit, so I hope my storytelling will make up for the length of my essay.

    For me, my biggest failure in life could be summed up in one phrase. My third semester at UCF. Pretty much my backstory was that from a young age I was the child that was “destined to excel” according to my father. Some examples:

    At the age of 4, it was discovered that I could read when I corrected my Pre-K teacher over coloring sheet instructions (A story you can read here if you’d like: https://www.quora.com/When-was-the-first-time-you-realized-that-a-teacher-cannot-always-be-right/answer/Lisa-Alexandre-1)
    Placed in the top 99th percentile for 5th grade FCAT
    (Middle school was a weird time so no significant achievements here)
    Member of Every Academic Honor Society possible as a Senior in High School. Rho Kappa, NEHS, NHS, Mu Alpha Theta, NSHS. Pretty much an overkill –but it looked good on a college application)
    Graduated Summa Cum Laude from High School with the highest tier Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.
    You pretty much get the picture. Now after reading the above you’re probably thinking one or all the following:

    I was a know it all that just got everything and never had to work hard in any of my classes, knew I was better than my peers, thought I was better than my teachers and was believed that I was on a fast track to a full ride to an Ivy League. There’ s a word for what you’re thinking: APEXERS (I kid, I kid – I have good friends who were APEXERS that are far from this stereotype). But it’s safe to say I was the “role model” student that was not liked by those that didn’t know me that well. Don’t worry, there have been plenty of moments where I didn’t like myself too.

    Let me tell you a bit more about me (just some facts and I’ll get to the point: my Titanic moment of failure)
    My parents are immigrants from Haiti, and I grew up and went to school in one of the worst parts of Orlando. Pine Hills, which a lot of Orlando residents like to refer to as Crime Hills. The summers of my childhood were spent indoors doing hours of workbooks and the occasional educational computer game with my father. There was no playing outside with friends, no annual family trips to Disney, just the occasional drop off at a relative’s house in another state like I was a UPS package until I was old enough to be initiated into the latchkey kid club. My parents could cover the financial necessities and extras such school field trips, birthday and Christmas gifts. We didn’t consider ourselves poor (and my parents would be feel disrespected if I dared to utter “I grew up poor”), but we didn’t attempt to keep up with the Joneses. My parents went above and beyond in their support of my schooling and activities, pulling all their strings with family friends to make sure I would have a ride home from a volunteering event, club meeting or chorus when they could not instead of having me sacrifice my activities. They did have a very high standard about my performance at school that was probably unrealistic at times, but they never had to reevaluate this standard since I never gave them a reason to. All that ever came home was glowing reports and good grades.

    Okay, failure time!
    When I went off to the University of Central Florida in 2015, my family helped with miscellaneous expenses such as car insurance the occasional bank transfer, but couldn’t afford to foot the bill for my education, so I had to fund my schooling with a mixture of scholarships, grants, and loans. My first year at UCF I did okay, my grades were trash the first semester and my GPA tanked, my only highlight was getting a B+ in my Intro to C class as a Computer Science major with no prior coding experience. I had to go through the reality check of college being nothing like high school and being responsible for yourself. The Spring 2016 semester the next class I took for my major was a Java Programming Class along with general education courses. The first week in my Java class felt like I was taking an advanced foreign language course. I had no idea what was going on, and even following along with the textbook and attending study sessions didn’t give me the faintest idea of the class material or how to do the programming assignments. I thought the issue was the professor (my bias stemming from RateMyProfessor reviews) instead of me, so I just withdrew from the class after a month, paid the money back for tuition and thought that next semester would be different. After all, excluding the W my grades had improved but my GPA was still low at a 2.7 since my scholarship required a 3.0 GPA. This was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg that would wreck me emotionally, academically and financially.

    In the Fall of 2016, I had a course load that made other students say, “You’re going to die” when they heard it. Every student has faced a personal Cerberus during their academic career. Mine was called Calculus 1, Discrete Mathematics, Computer Science 1 with a Humanities thrown in so I could keep my full-time status. I foolishly thought that I would be okay, it would be difficult but manageable. My overconfidence stemmed from my summer semester, since taking 6 credits worth of math classes and getting an A for both while working 3 part-time jobs (two of which I was still working for the fall semester). After the first month of fall semester classes, I ended up withdrawing from CS1 and Discrete after failing the first exams and every single assignment so far. I took a hard hit financially (about $1500) from paying back the tuition money my scholarship covered and started to doubt my future in Computer Science. After speaking with my academic advisor and doing some soul searching, it became clear that staying in Computer Science would be a bad idea and I would be better off in another major. I didn’t know how to tell my parents that I would no longer be in Computer Science since they had this vision of me as some tech executive at Google and I didn’t want to shatter that image and disappoint them, so I thought I could just retake those courses next semester and somehow have a better outcome. I stayed in my Calculus and Humanity course, and my chances of passing Calculus was the same of a coin toss based on prior passing rates for the class. But I was very determined to pass Calculus and put in all the effort I could. Attending lectures, reviewing the content from the lectures with YouTube and Khan Academy, doing extra practice problems along with my homework, made a study group, go over practice problems together as well as attending the TA review sessions.
    After taking the final for Calculus in December I thought I would at least get a C. About a week later I found out I ended up with an NC, which meant that pretty much I failed the class, but I put in enough amount of effort and my GPA wouldn’t suffer. But the results were devastating. I only received 3 credits for that semester, a 2.9 GPA and in danger of completely losing my Bright Future’s Scholarship, and having to pay back 1000’s of dollars’ worth of tuition. I spent Winter Break depressed in my apartment alone, playing video games for hours on end since that was the only thing could make me feel better, hating myself and feeling like a complete failure. I didn’t know how to handle failure because it was never considered an option for me growing up. Getting a C was unthinkable, and a B meant that I didn’t try hard enough. So, I had no idea how to handle this news. I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s surviving on a $25 McDonald’s gift card and coupons since I couldn’t afford groceries and was too ashamed to tell my family that I couldn’t afford to buy food, since that meant explaining my academic failure. One day I went McDonald’s like usual, and happened to check my email before going inside and saw an email from the Registrar’s office. I had to pay back another $500 within two weeks because of my NC grade but I didn’t even have $25 to my name. That was my rock bottom, I ended up having an emotional breakdown sitting my car in a McDonald’s parking lot. The irony of this situation was at the beginning of the semester I thought I was too good to eat McDonald’s, and now it was the only thing I could afford.

    After wallowing in my trench of shame that I had dug myself, at some point I had to wake up and face the music by telling my parents what had happened. I had no other outs, and I came down so hard on myself that I felt like I was going to break at the first word of disappointment from my parents. Except there were none. They were more concerned about my wellbeing since it was obvious that I was an emotional mess. My father loaned me the money to pay the Registrar and told me not to worry about how I did since I couldn’t change it now and only focus on the future since it was up to me if I stayed where I was or go up.

    So, I started the Spring 2017 semester with a fresh slate. The 3 credits I received from the fall was enough to boost my GPA from a 2.9 to a 3.1, so I got off probation for Bright Futures and was able to keep my scholarship. I switched my major from Computer Science to Accounting after being pointed in the direction of business from multiple aptitude tests as well as getting input from those closest to me. I ended up flourishing in my business classes. The coursework was new and challenging in its own way compared to Computer Science, but I could relate both to learning how to swim. I’ve heard of two ways that people learn how to swim. You learn gradually and with guidance through lessons, or you just get thrown in the pool and you either sink and drown or you flounder about and somehow manage to keep yourself alive. Accounting for me feels like the former than the latter. I ended up doing it was a complete turnaround and made Dean’s in my first semester as a Pre-Accounting Student. I was also happiest I’ve ever been since I entered college.

    The hardest thing for me to do overcome my failure was to admit that I didn’t make the right choice for myself, to begin with choosing my major. It just didn’t work out for me, but at the time it felt like the right choice. I had to feel like I always made the right choice the first time around if I left any room for doubt it would eat away at me for what would feel like an eternity. I know that not everybody makes the right decisions all the time, but this was the first time that I had to take a serious look in the mirror and admit that I made a mistake than just bury my head in the sand. I had to come to terms with that then trying to convince myself that I had made the right decision in the first place, everything else was wrong and end up sacrificing everything (time, energy and money) to prove something that nobody would hold against me. 70% of students change their major at least once in college, so why did I have to be the exception if my academic performance showed that it wasn’t a good match, and I knew in my heart that it wasn’t for me anymore.

    A year ago, I wouldn’t have dared tell anyone about this moment that I considered to be the biggest fail of my life if they didn’t have to know, not even my closest friends. A just a few days ago I casually mentioned my failure story to another student I just met on my shuttle route to give to sympathize with him since he felt like a failure because of his performance in school and I was able to (gasp) laugh at myself. Now I’m posting my story for the world to see.

  5. Sanjana Pratti
    Biomedical Sciences, Junior

    I come from a very traditional, religious and cultured family and country. Values and morals were a huge part of my life and failure to follow them was just sought as a disappointment. Habits such as Gambling, Smoking, and Alcoholism are shunned away and being a woman meant, keeping yourself away from those very habits. As society progressed into modernization, both men and women have been subjected to those habits. Despite being in violation of the religion, people decided to take the rebellious act. It became a norm for some men in their youth to enjoy drinking with friends but family values and tradition would tell them to lose those habits once married. Women doing these habits is just the biggest sin of all. Women in my religion, are goddesses and the epidemy of values and for a person who is set in such high regard to drink and smoke is just an absolute disgust to everyone. When I moved here, people were casual about these habits. Men and Women were smoking, drinking as a socializing activity rather than a one-time thing. People around weren’t shunning them away, instead, they accepted it. After 6 years of being in this country and 6 years of resisting away from all of them just to keep the culture alive, I made a mistake.

    I was hospitalized for alcohol intoxication. Something I have never imagined would happen to me. Waking up 4 hours later to my mother’s face drenched in tears like I have never seen before and my father’s face on the verge of blowing up was horrifying. Mainly because of the answers I have to give to their questions. They raised their daughter with a reason behind each value rather than following a rule blindly. They raised their daughter to respect them and their decisions on her life. They raised their daughter to stay strong to her beliefs when it came to defending her character. They brought me to this country for the sole purpose of having a better opportunity at education and life and not to acquire this whole new lifestyle. All their sacrifices and their hard works and their overnight shifts, saving every penny to come to America was just so their children can have the opportunity to escape the lifestyle they had to grow in. All they asked in return was keep living with our traditions and our culture because that is all we have left from back home. I ruined it.

    I was allowed to study instead of working or doing a basic chore. Education is gold and in order for me succeed in the highest way possible, I need to concentration is flourishing in it. The amount of faith my parents had in me and the amount of confidence they gave me to success is unimaginable. When I go to school, they picture me working towards fulfiling their goal in a happy life but instead, I had to be hospitalized. It was as if they were cheated from their lifestyle. All the work they have put in so far and all the reputation they gained up till now, was in flames because of me. Why do all the sleepless nights of continues work for your kids if they are just going to take your word for granted? My failure isn’t that I was failed to follow my tradition but I failed to be the good daughter my parents believed I was. I failed to love them for all they have done for me. I owe them a lot of respect for everything they have done for me and in return, I burst their bubble. I simply became the worst person they have ever imagined. I became everything they hated in a good person.Telling my friends here, it seems like a small issue, everyone messes up and we move on. But this isn’t messing up, its failure. It cheating your parents and it very hard to move on from this. Gaining their trust and faith in my future after this is almost impossible. But feeling bad about yourself and beating yourself down for the failures in life is not going to get you anywhere. From every failure, there is a lesson. A lesson about how you could’ve approached the situation, why you went to that failure and what did you gain from that failure. I told myself to use the lessons to work towards excellence and not the success. Sucess will be where excellence is.

  6. Failures and Fixes

    Aashish Madamanchi
    Aerospace Engineering – Junior
    Grad Year: UCF 2019

    I came into UCF in 2015 wide eyed and happy to leave my home back in Boca Raton, FL and study Aerospace Engineering. I was an exemplary student with solid grades and a drive to succeed but what I was not expecting was how different college life truly is. With all this freedom came great responsibility to manage my time and establish a structure that was formerly setup for me via school and parents. I never truly failed a class in my academic career; what I saw as failing was at most a C. In my first semester I outright failed a math class and wound up barely scraping by in my other classes. For someone with a stellar academic career to fail so badly outright shook my faith in both my parents and me completely. I sat at a 1.9 GPA on academic probation and under immense pressure from parents to transfer to a college near my house ASAP. Coming off that rough semester I found myself under intense scrutiny to perform better the following spring semester. The very fear of repeating my past loomed over me throughout my spring semester combined with poor decision making at a party that led me to a night in the hospital destroyed me both mentally and physically. I set myself on a very destructive path of constant fighting with parents to stay and continue at UCF. The back and forth bickering only wore me down even more and by Fall 2016 I failed yet another class. Compounding that failure was another hospital visit due to erroneous judgement at a tailgate.
    Skating on thin ice I realized that it was time to come to a consensus with my parents about my future and establish a path of success for myself. I sat at the end of 2016 with a 2.98 GPA finishing just shy of that 3.0 that employers often set as their entry requirement GPA. All my life I believed this fight was a solo fight; only one that I was destined to handle myself and without help. But in life you eventually realize that taking on the world solo comes at a great cost to you both mentally and physically. All this time I was repeatedly telling myself “I will make it” and “nothing is wrong;” I just got to adjust a few things here and there. What I truly needed was a moment to step back and reassess the situation. Sometimes a solo fight is not possible, and you will need the help of others.
    In my situation I sought help from the services UCF had to offer. We have a wonderful staff here at the Counseling and Psychological Services dedicated to the well-being of students. There are times where one must realize they need assistance and that it is okay to put your hand out; people out there will grab your hand and pull you up from whatever you may be in. I obtained a job on campus working at Domino’s, one that would give me responsibility. Accepting responsibility was the first step right after addressing that I needed assistance; I needed to realize that at times it comes down to my actions. Sometimes there is just no explanation to why something happened to you or how you could’ve avoided it; hindsight will always remain 20/20. All that is left is for you to keep moving on and improving yourself for the future rather than dwell on the past. However, this is a lot easier said than done sometimes; especially when the past is what has brought you to the present and even shapes the future. I spent this past year focusing on bettering myself and worked tirelessly to bring myself to a better academic standing and moved up the ladder in my job.
    Looking upon my past I realized that asking for a hand in time of need is not a bad thing at all no matter how dire your circumstances may be. We are surrounded by so many resources all at our fingertips, yet we are unaware of their full potential. From my experience the one thing I would say is to not be afraid to seek out that help. We cannot go solo our whole lives because there are some issues that are just beyond one of us to handle.

  7. Andres Velasquez/ Integrated Business/ Junior
    Talking about a failure is never easy the feeling of shame always runs through my veins when speaking of failure. My most notable failure takes place in high school when I just turned 17, I was in my senior year of high school. The prior year I joined the fencing team in my junior year of high school. The next year I became the president of the club.
    I was never the social type and certainly never considered myself as a leader but I joined the fencing team to make new friends and learn a new sport. I joined the club and became close to the current President. He was a senior at the time and was actually the creator of the fencing club at my high school. A couple days before graduation he said no one in the club wanted to become president and told me that if I don’t take the job the club will fall apart.
    I had to step out of my comfort zone and take this opportunity all the other members were counting on me. The previous president gave me the accounting books, the contacts of our fencing coach and introduced me to the teacher sponsor of our club. I was already feeling an intense weight on my shoulders from all the new knowledge and instruction I had to manage and use for the club. As I was the only officer of the club I, created a vice president position to help ease the workload. Unfortunately, I chose someone who needed to be told what to do every step of the way. He was an amazing person don’t get me wrong but leadership wasn’t his forte. Leadership wasn’t my strongest trait. So, at 17 I didn’t even understand the concept of delegating.
    The first major bump of the road was when the teacher sponsor for the club told me he couldn’t be our sponsor anymore. He was a biology teacher who focused more on his teaching rather help participate into our club actives. So after several weeks and cooperation with my vice president, we found another sponsor for our club. Almost instantly after driving over the original bump in the road another bump appears in my path. Our fencing instructor comes to me and tells me he’s having health issues and cannot continue teaching the club. This created a problem because he supplies our gear, and without gear no fencing club. After doing tons of research looking for another fencing instructor, I come to recognize that The Freedom High School fencing club couldn’t afford a coach because of the low number of new members signing up. Finding a new member was a difficult task for a sport that doesn’t appeal from word of mouth. The pressure I was getting from other members and putting countless hours into the club with no help. This situations may not seem traumatic, but after being in charge of the club’s marketing, accounting books, finance, and managing the club with little help, they were the tipping point of my stress levels. At the next club meeting, I resigned from being President.
    Thinking back to my high school years and all the pressure I went through with trying to keep the fencing club afloat, I believe I experienced those situations for a reason. The club was pushing me to grow as a leader. I regret not pushing myself to the end, but resigning taught me a valuable lesson that haunts me to this day. You never actually fail until you give up.

  8. Tayyab Qasmi
    Capstone Section: 21
    Professors: Dr. Aaron McKenny (Lecture) & Dr. Carl Blencke (Lab)

    “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” This quote by Henry Ford emphasizes the value of failing, something many of us don’t properly understand. I believe that failure is a significant part to success. It teaches patience, resilience, commitment, etc., all the necessary ingredients needed to succeed. Life is full of challenges and as this blog mentioned, “getting comfortable with failure is a key step in becoming a better risk-taker and successful leader.”

    My story starts with the beginning of my student life. Throughout my life, one thing that has always been constant is change. This may sound ironic, however, change for me was a part of life, whether that be changing schools, homes, countries, etc. Just regarding education, I completed my pre-school in West Indies, then moved to Miami for first grade, skipped on to third grade in New Delhi, India (which I went just for 3 months), started homeschooling till sixth grade, seventh grade in Orlando, four years of high school in India, and ultimately starting my college life here in the US. One thing that was certain, change wasn’t easy, there were many failures, but as I will mention at the end of this essay, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

    The biggest failure, among many experienced, was the moment when I left Orlando, after completing my seventh grade, to join high school in India. This was not only the biggest educational change that I had experienced, but it was also one of the most important phases in my life: high school. There is a big difference in the education system of the US and that of India, hence, this shift was a bold step out of my comfort zone to experience something new that was full of uncertainty and ambiguity. Even though I had experienced ‘change’ before, this time was different.

    I joined in the middle of the year, just a month before the midterms. There seemed to be no time available to get acquainted with the students, school, and the overall curriculum as I had to study for 6 months of material in just 1 month. Time went by swiftly, suddenly it was exam week and action was needed instantly. A week later, after waiting anxiously, the exam results were announced. I had failed the first time in my life. My overall average was 53% as I did good in one exam, but I had failed the rest. More than the exam results, I believed that I failed my own expectations. A meeting was called in immediately to decide my future with the school.

    All the teachers and staff decided that I would not be able to cope with high school and that I should be placed in 7th grade instead of 8th grade. Questions were being raised on my intelligence and the capability to overcome change. Worse of it all, there was a moment where I began questioning myself too. But that’s when my father told me, “these exams don’t define you. I know that you can do it [be successful in high school] but you need to believe that you can do it too.” This was one of the greatest advice I received from him: don’t stop believing.

    It was decided that I will be given one more chance to prove that, according to the teachers and the school staff, I am ready for high school and can perform at a good level. The next set of exams will determine if I should continue. This time I had one more thing that I didn’t before: belief. I had made myself believe that I can and will succeed and started positioning myself in a manner that will allow me to maximize my efforts towards my studies. Exam week had arrived and I was confident and ready. Then the results were announced, I had passed with an 85% average!

    For the next few years, among many other accomplishments, I went on to get inducted into the student council, was named the vice-captain of the school, president of the environment club, and sports captain for the basketball team. From a time where I failed, I was now aiming for success. I learned the value of failure and my message to anyone reading this is that your belief is what will support and lead you to success. Your actions begin with your mind; you cannot be physically prepared until you are mentally ready. No matter how difficult or challenging something seems, unless you believe that you can overcome the obstacles, you will not get the results you want. The great Buddha said, “what you think, you become.” So be brave, believe, feel deserving of everything in life, and then success will come looking for you.

  9. Luke Anziano
    Senior, Business Management, Capstone Section 23, Prof. Kenneth Lay
    I hate my job. I have said it over and over again and I am willing to bet I am not alone. I don’t hate it because it is mundane, or because my supervisor is a power-hungry prima donna. I hate it because I feel empty inside. So much so, that within a year of starting I noticed I was gaining weight, I had low energy, and I didn’t bother shaving every day. Before I get into how I turned this around and found a way to look at myself in the mirror again I should start from the beginning.
    I used to serve in the United States Army. For almost thirteen years I was a crew-chief on the most lethal and awesome machine on four blades; the AH-64D Apache helicopter. When kids saw me in my uniform I garnered immediate respect. When I told people at social gatherings what I did, I was asked interesting questions about my job and my life. I served honorably in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I trained with forces from around the world and saw things that changed the way I will think for the rest of my life. I wore patches on my sleeve that told everyone around me who I was with, my level of importance, and where I have been. When I dressed up, I proudly wore my accomplishments on my chest. Then I got married, had a son, and got out of the Army in the first round of budget cuts.
    I lost all the things that told me who I was. I lunged at the first opportunity for employment in my civilian life. I found an okay job with a modest pay and has a good benefit package. I also got a cubicle and I wear khakis. I blend into society and when I go to social gatherings I try to stay as vague as possible about my job. I am uncomfortable with the idea that the hierarchy of power is so ambiguous. It is difficult to distinguish the top performers and who to emulate from the confines of my three blue walls. When I bust my hump, more work is piled on my desk. This is the life I found for myself after years of passionate service to my country. I wake up, drink coffee, kiss my sleeping wife and son good-bye for the day, go to work, come home, play with my kid and watch TV.
    I had lost that undefined feeling that made me want to excel in life. My contributions to my company were difficult to discern from the general production. My labor did not materialize into tangible results that I could claim responsibility for. I toiled and felt depressed. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror anymore. I grew a beard because it was just easier than looking at myself.
    Then one day my wife showed me our finances and I knew I had to change something. Although I make a decent living, we could no longer afford to live in the standard we had grown accustomed to. So I made a list of options. I wrote them out and could see a definite escalation of possibilities and I felt something that I had not felt in a long time. As my ideas became more optimistic the path to success became more challenging. My wife and I sat at the dinner table and discussed the possibilities; it became clear that the vital element that I was missing was a college education.
    I cannot afford to leave my full-time job so I had to find a way to show my superiors that I could handle my work load, and my school work at the same time. The best way I could think of to show them was to change who I was that day. I found my reason to shave and polish my shoes. When I work I am no longer only concerned with the goal of accomplishing missions for the good my employer, I am concerned with accomplishing my goals. The improvement in my work ethic translated into more latitude with my supervisors in scheduling work around school.
    I wear my University of Central Florida shirts so people know who I belong to. When I go to social gatherings I am no longer ashamed to tell people that I work for an airline auditing paperwork for federal regulatory compliance because I am also studying full time to turn that auditing experience into something much bigger. I tell people that I do both of those things and also raise a family. The work that I put into this endeavor pays huge dividends when I see the amazement in the eyes of my coworkers and family. When I made the Dean’s List it was the first time in civilian education that I had ever earned any kind of scholastic citation. When I was asked how school was going by one of my superiors and I told them, I got a congratulatory note from the president of my airline.
    What all this has taught me is that I failures don’t always come from the lack of success. For me, my biggest failure in this period of my life was waiting to exert myself. I settled for the first job I could find and ran to the safety of it. The most important thing is that when you are faced with any failure, especially the failure that comes in the form of the shadow of success, is you reorganize, learn more about yourself, and drive on. The real challenge and path to success is cultivating tenacity, and that can only be done in the face of adversity. If you have none, you had better go find some, because the only thing worse than loosing is racing to the bottom and winning.

  10. James Guerne
    Class Standing: Senior
    Major: Marketing

    As a teenager, I was very active online, particularly within the YouTube community. I started out as a gamer posting montages of my best clips for the world to see, and I was pretty good at. I gained enough traction to join a team with 50,000 subscribers and enjoyed every second of it. As I got older, my interest in the business side of YouTube began to peak, as YouTubers began to receive larger and larger paychecks for their videos. It was roughly 2012 when I broke into the YouTube network scene, at the time there was a high barrier of entry to the market and the fact that I was able to secure a CMS (content management system) was almost unheard of. YouTube networks at the time were the main avenue for a content creator to make money by posting videos on the platform. The concept was simple: the creators make videos, YouTube pays the network, the network pays the creator and offers support along the way. As I grew within the industry, I began to realize that the community is very small. My main method of communication working with networks was Skype, and with over 1,000 contacts I was in calls a majority of my day. All of the networks worked together and discussed who they scouting, recruiting, and disclosed partner lists so that nobody would step on each other’s toes (come to find out later, this is illegal). I started to notice that I was repeatedly ending up in a group call with the same guy, named Troy Clark. He was working for a different network at the time, Exonia. We hit it off and stayed in touch here and there throughout a period of a few months. One day in February of 2013, I logged onto Skype (mind you after working in networks for nearly a year at this point I was looking for a way out) and noticed that Troy had posted that he was in search of team members to start his own video-sharing website. At that moment, I realized, this was it.

    I immediately shot Troy a message and asked him what I could do to join this project, skeptical at first, he kind of brushed me off. It took a few days of me explaining to him what I envisioned for the project that he finally brought me into a call, that’s where I met Pablo Smith. Pablo and I had also had a history, we competed heavily within the network industry and to say the least, we didn’t care for each other. Regardless, I cared so much for the project that I worked through our differences. Troy made the compelling argument, something that was shared by many in the community at the time, YouTube didn’t care about its creators. For years YouTube would implement changes, switch up the platform, all while ignoring crucial feedback. We were going to be the ones who liberated the community, we were going to make a platform built by creators. After a few calls, I was welcomed onto the team of a nameless video-sharing website in development by a 15-year-old in Newport News, Virginia, a 16-year-old in designer in Berlin, Germany, and an ambitious 15-year-old in sunny Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Since I really didn’t know anything about running my own company at the time, I gave myself the title of Business Development because it sounded professional. We immediately hit the ground running scrounging up a little over $1,000 by borrowing some cash from Troy’s dad and we immediately formed an LLC. Troy began building our revolutionary video-sharing platform with design help from Pablo, and I started our marketing campaign. We put up a simple landing page with a beta sign-up and started slamming social media with what we thought was going to be the next best thing. I had our promo video plastered all over popular YouTube channels, I set up interviews for Pablo so he could discuss our “groundbreaking design”, Troy started a weekly development show following the build of the platform – we were killing it. With all of the contacts, I had amassed over the years of gaming and activity in the YouTube scene we were able to gain 15,000+ beta sign-ups in a period of 3 months. In May of 2013, CreatorsCast was ready. We launched to the excitement of thousands within the gaming community. We were a well-oiled machine, we were getting so much traffic that the site was crashing and within an hour Troy would have it back up. We were growing so fast, and we all were wearing so many hats. I would sometimes answer support tickets until 3AM and still make it to the bus stop by 6:20AM. Once we got off the ground, we had no idea how much it would cost to run servers on a video-sharing platform. In our first month, we burnt through a little over $300 just to keep the site running. In what can be compared to a scene in “The Social Network” I decided if we were going to stay afloat, we had to sell advertisements.

    I strapped up my boots and reached out to a video advertising firm called LiveRail. The representative on the other end didn’t immediately know he was talking to a 16-year-old with no idea what he was doing but he quickly found out and when he told us that we needed at least 1M monthly impressions for the company to even talk to us, it was back to square one. We began selling banner ads to anyone who would buy them, and it worked. Things were looking up, we were paying our bills, gaining traction, except for one thing: our platform sucked. The entire point of the platform was that we were going to allow the customization for profiles that YouTube didn’t offer, and Troy just could get it done all by himself. We began onboarding employees that might as well have been volunteers because we had no money to pay them. It even got the point where Pablo formed our “legal department” under a different alias to threaten people that didn’t pay for their ads. People were beginning to become a bit frustrated that the platform was keeping up with its growth. This was until one average day as I was scrolling through our mentions on Twitter, somebody tweeted that they couldn’t believe how smooth the video on CreatorsCast was, and unlike YouTube, we didn’t compress our uploads. This tweet started to gain some traction within the community, and before we knew it, people were flocking to the platform to upload high-quality content. Again, this was another “aha” moment, forget all of the customization, our new market was high-quality uploads. Ironically, once I brought this up to Troy, he actually told me that the reason we didn’t have a cap on frame rate was because he couldn’t figure out how to do it. As we dug deeper we found out that all people wanted was to be able to upload in 60FPS (frames per second), the videos kept in their original quality, unlike YouTube which compressed them to 30FPS. At the time, we had no idea why YouTube did it, but as naive as we were we just assumed it was another stupid move on YouTube’s part. We moved forward with our accidental UVP and once again hit the ground running. We touted ourselves as the “first ever 60FPS video-sharing website” and boy did we take off.

    The company was in better shape than ever, this was until we started watching not only our users climb, but our server bill as well. The costs were taking a toll, but nevertheless, I was selling enough ads to cover the bills and then some so we turned a blind eye to our financials. As time went on, the platform got a redesign, users loved the high-quality content, but we still weren’t satisfied. We began a guerilla marketing campaign on our biggest competitor, YouTube. Day and night I made it my mission to bash YouTube every chance I got, and our loyal fan base began to follow suit. We made our rivalry prevalent all over social media, sometimes tweeting directly at YouTube that they were letting some teenagers create a better platform than theirs. My main goal was to push the 60FPS feature to its limits, we were the only platform with it, and I wanted the world to know. After a few months on cloud nine, rumors began to swirl that YouTube had an update in the works. Our entire team had an eerie feeling that YouTube knew who we were, what we were doing, and they weren’t happy about it. Once again, on an average day, I woke up to a slew of messages coming through our Slack channels, a barrage of tweets, and tons of Skype messages. All it took was one tweet to destroy everything we had built over an entire year’s worth of time, YouTube now offered 60FPS uploads. After months of poking the sleeping giant, he had finally awakened. Troy and I immediately hopped into a call, and it wasn’t good, we had built our entire brand on this feature. There was no longer a reason for creators to use our platform, we had a fraction of the audience and zero leverage. It didn’t take long for the platform to begin to crumble, we couldn’t keep up with our server costs and motivation was sharply declining. We tried the best we could to salvage the platform, something that was once valued so highly was worth pennies on the dollar. We even got a bailout from a well known YouTube network owner, George Vanous, who bought into the company to hopefully put a band-aid on our hemorrhaging cash flow. Unfortunately, nothing could save our sinking ship, and in the Fall of 2014, CreatorsCast officially shut down.

    Finally letting go of CreatorsCast was probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my entire life. For an entire year, my days revolved around that company, I became so attached to the brand that when it all ended, I was lost. It took some time to recover, but as the team and I split paths, we all agreed that it was a phenomenal learning experience. I started out as a 15-year-old kid who didn’t even know what the title Business Development actually meant to managing the day-to-day operations of an actual functioning company that paid taxes (once). The journey of starting from scratch gave me a real-life perspective of the world of business. It’s not nice, it’s not friendly, and it doesn’t care about you or your product. With that being said, I loved every second of it, I gained skills that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I learned everything from time management and productivity, to how to write a business plan and create a pitch deck. I learned how to be professional in business call, things such as mannerisms that can never be taught in school, they just aren’t textbook. I learned people skills, for example, working with individuals like Pablo and how to deal with it. I went from a shy kid to interacting with hundreds if not thousands of people on a regular basis. I learned the power of networking and certainly the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. I believe one of my biggest lessons was that sometimes you have to let things go when they’re not working out and move on, it took me too long to figure that out. If I could give one piece of advice from my experience running my first company, it’s to just do it, get started as soon as possible. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to miss things, but you’ll learn from it. I had the advantage of jumping into business head first at a young age, my naive nature was a blessing because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The best thing you can do is figure it out as you go – ignorance can be bliss. Take my story as motivation, I went from a kid with a video game controller in his hand to selling advertisements for a video-sharing website that I co-founded. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

    Here’s an embarrassing video from circa 2014 when we were trying to salvage our sinking ship: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8PP8LDpQevY

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