By Lori Huertas, EdD Student
I heard someone comment that Election Week felt like it never ended. I have to agree. Even during one of my remote classes at Barry University as the professor was teaching on November 4, many of us could not resist temptation to type to one another in the chat section as states were changing colors from red to blue and vice versa.
Many of us had sleepless nights awaiting the results. No matter what political side people chose, a level of uncertainty existed. We appeared to be a nation divided. The world was watching. As a resident of the state of Florida it became clear that division existed from city to county.
As the final results came in for the state of Florida, some were excited, while others, including myself, were disappointed. However, hope and faith are traits that my dad’s mother, my “abuela” always reminded me of.
As I type these words, our President and VP elect have been announced. Congratulations Joe Biden and Kamala Harris! For many of us, this brings a sense of joy that for the next few years the USA can make positive changes together. However, in this, many will be tempted to become divided by resisting change. One example of this is the refusal of some to wear masks and social distance, even though the Biden and Harris administration has reminded us that COVID is still real and a threat to our health. The temptation to become divided exists but as we embrace our cultural diversity, we can overcome this by viewing the United States as a beautiful stew of different ingredients as opposed to a melting pot.
I was born in New York but moved to Puerto Rico where I was raised. I completed elementary, middle and half of high school there. When I was a sophomore in high school, we moved to Virginia. This was a culture shock for me. I was the only Hispanic girl in a school of 500. I felt rejected by both white and black students. I was constantly asked if I was mixed and bullied. I remember wanting to join the student council at the time and being told that they preferred boys because they made better leaders and that I should just join the Home Economics Club.
Today I smile because I am not only a member of several groups that were historically predominantly male, I am demonstrating that instead of being divided, together we can achieve more. My expectation is that our 2021 President Biden along with VP Harris, our first female black Indian in that role, can set an example that it is not about gender or race, it about wanting to empower our country to work together as a positive example for the rest of the world.
Barry University’s mission statement reminds us of our humanity and our Christian brotherhood that no matter who is in government that we should never lose sight of the big picture.
In thinking about the big picture, Barry University’s amazing Transformational Leadership Development frameworks comes to mind.
Barry University UG students have an opportunity to reflect on key questions of discernment during their four years. During the first year this includes contemplating on the:
Sense of belonging that is fostered through the Barry University school spirit
Importance of a healthy lifestyle
Difference between service and volunteerism
Personal leadership styles (you can look at the last Buccaneer issue on Myers Briggs)
Importance of spiritual and personal discernment
Personal talents through career exploration
Sophomores and juniors have an opportunity to further explore their interests, development empathy with peers, foster respect in their community, learn the importance of compassion, development commitments through joy and, finally, learn the importance of leaving a legacy through an application of these vital character traits that are ethically important, no matter who is in government. Seniors are able to exhibit the Barry Spirit by mentoring underclassmen.
During COVID-19, as an army mom I was interviewed and had an opportunity to speak about Transformational Leadership here:
One of the veterans who interviewed me became so impressed about Barry University’s values that he did not turn his UCF application for a master’s in social work and instead applied to ours and is now a leader of Barry University’s MSW. What’s more, many that listened and were touched by how we not only list transformational leadership on our website, but students faculty and staff apply it every day.
This is what sets us apart. May we be reminded of our big picture. When I graduated from that high school I mentioned earlier, I felt free. I remember my dad, hugging me and saying “Hija, puedes lograr lo que sea”…”My daughter, you can accomplish anything.”
This is my dream for our country. May we see the best in one another, support each other and truly be a “United” States of America.