Intern Spotlight: Overcoming Adversity through Resilience & Career Readiness

Armando Herreros, Student at Queens College CUNY & Urban Assembly Intern

My name is Armando Herreros and I am an undergraduate at Queens College CUNY. I am currently interning at the UA with the Academics and Data team. This Career Month, I’ve been reflecting upon the academic and professional progress that I have made over the years. As I think about the ways that I’ve overcome adversity since the beginning of my educational career, it’s become clearer to me that overcoming barriers is just a part of life; however, one’s ability to navigate through challenges becomes increasingly easier with professional development and career readiness exposure. I learned this when I joined the UA as an intern.

My experience with addressing adversity head-on began in elementary school when I was classified as an English as a Second Language (ESL) student. I overcame the barriers I had with language through speech therapy, but speech and public speaking is something that I would struggle with throughout high school. As a student, I would often have low self-esteem during public events and class presentations. The transition from high school to college was also difficult. Working full time at my family’s restaurant and also attending school made focusing nearly impossible as I would work 12-hour days to support myself and my family’s business. However, I made it through both situations through hard work and developing resilience. As an intern navigating this current climate of COVID-19, I have learned to channel a similar resilience and rely on a similar work ethic as I had done before. I have also had the opportunity to translate my experiences in dealing with adversity to helping others.

Since joining the Academics team my sophomore year of college, I have been able to leverage my adversities and translate them into meaningful contributions to the team. Focusing on gathering, analyzing, and presenting crucial student data to the teachers, principals, and other stakeholders have allowed me, as an intern, to advocate for students facing the same challenges that I once faced. I have managed to do this with the support of my team, and by drawing on past experiences. Motivated to help support outcomes for students who may be where I once was, I have embraced the challenges of this moment.

We are continually confronted with hardships, but what matters most is overcoming them and channeling them toward our success. This work is teaching me to lean into the challenging moments, especially now. In education, we can support others who need help and those who needed somebody to lean on.

As Michelle Obama once said, “You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.” A final statement on how overcoming adversity is building you into the person and professional that you are becoming.