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Student Leadership Success Show Season 2 Joselyn Vera Harvard Top #1 Youth Speaker Jonathan Medina

Jan 09, 2021

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Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (00:15): Leadership, leadership, leadership, success, success, success time. My name is Jonathan Medina. I'm America's number one, youth motivator. I'm your teacher. I'm your coach. I'm your friend and I'm your teammate. And today we have an awesome, awesome guest. Today. We have Jocelyn. She is currently at Harvard university. She was the first valedictorian of idea, far the high school that she went to. She was the class of 2017. She was a first generation, low income student, and she also helped to found or to co-found [inaudible], which is Harvard's first Latin X literacy magazine. Please help me welcome our guests, Jocelyn. Hey Jocelyn. Well, Justin, I just told everyone about all the amazing success. I told them about how you're the first valedictorian and idea farm. I told them how you were you coast started the Latin X magazine, but can you tell us how you first got started getting involved in academic success or in your student leadership? Can you tell us like from day one, like a moment that, where it all started?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (01:23): Yeah, I think like, as soon as I stepped into college, I was like very homesick and really depressed my first year. So it actually wasn't until my second year that I started getting involved in anything. And it was more so like, okay. Like my second year I got over my homesickness, like a little bit I feel more, I feel like now that I like survived my first year, I need to like start reaching out and start connecting, like with my community. Because like that first year I like just spent trying to like get over my homesickness and trying to to like a whole different area of far away from home. So my second year, my like thinking was like, okay maybe if I like start reaching out to like Latin X, next organizations, or like, try to find my community out of college I'll have like a much better experience.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (02:12): And that was true. So the way like that I joined this, somebody sent an email over like a list and I was like, Oh, well, like I like to write I hope to one day be an editor, so I kind of want to gain experience doing this. So I kind of did it like out of a whim. And it was like a brand new organization. No one had done it before. And our founder Ruben Reyes was kind of like, I need someone like kind of like, vice president like someone who like will learn the ropes. So that way that I can, I could take over once he graduated. So I was like, okay, I didn't do anything my freshman year. So like, let me, like, let me go ahead and try this. So after he graduated I took over and I think we're on our fourth issue now. I'm not a senior, so now someone else is taking over. And she's doing great. So yeah, that was, that's the beginning of that journey

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (03:05): Now that's, that's starting it out, but what, what is like the big vision that y'all have for that?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (03:09): Well, we want to continue obviously like publishing it and we're really proud that some of our, our first issue is actually in whitener. So Widener's like our big university library and they reached out to us and they wanted our issue to be at the library. So it's really cool. Like knowing that people can like go check it out. But we want to keep building an online presence. I think that has been like one of the biggest challenges, because when we started, we literally didn't know anything about anything. So it was learning how to do, like learning up to set like meetings with sponsors. Cause we needed, we needed a budget, we needed money. Because we weren't like a recognized, we weren't an official organization with our college. That's a whole another process, like an application process that we had to go through.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (03:53): We, we really didn't have like a lot of budget. We didn't have the tools to like book spaces on campus because we weren't an official organization. So that was like, that was a whole like a lot like to go through. But we want to like keep working on our online presence and something that I personally really like about [inaudible] is that, you know, it doesn't matter if you don't have like previous experience writing and submitting to other publications. It doesn't matter if you have, like, it doesn't matter. Your educational background. So we can have like high schoolers applying to us people who never been to college all sorts of like levels. We just want like your writing. And we also like, are really proud to publish people that have never been published before.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (04:35): Awesome. Awesome. I absolutely love that. And I think, especially when you just think of like being a high school student and saying like, Oh, I got featured in Harvard's magazine, that'd be just like to sound super cool and would give them huge confidence. Now if someone else was like their first generation, just like yourself, just like me, if they were starting out, what would be a tip that you would give them if they were to go to college and to have a successful start right away Joselyn Harvard LatinX (05:02): Right away. I think honestly it would be, find a community that you feel comfortable with that empowers you. I I'm a minority, I'm Mexican American. So like going to Harvard, I felt like I wasn't, I think it's called like imposter syndrome, you know, like that you don't feel like you're good enough. But it was like a constant constantly reminding myself that like I earned my spot here just as much as anyone else did. And I think like that's why my freshman year was so rough because I didn't find like a community that I felt like I belonged to. But my second year I was like, this is like where I belong to. I'm like setting the weakened friends really easily. Like people in my name I'm like, I'm actually like happy to go to class sometimes. But I would say that like find your community, you find like, like a group of people that like just empower you and then like make you feel like you belong there.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (05:50): Absolutely. Absolutely. When I was in school, we used to have these conferences that would travel among kind of like the Ivy league type schools. So sometimes they weren't, I believe, but it was like Georgetown, we hosted it one year, but we would go from like each area. It was called the East coast, Chicano student forum. I'm not sure if that even still exist or not. But it's something,

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Joselyn Harvard LatinX (06:09): Well, I just, yeah, I think I got to meet with like it was like a, I think it was a luncheon and I I'm pretty sure it was like my second or third year it was a luncheon, so I got to meet like some people from Tufts. Okay. and then I know a friend from BU and she's also the same year as me. So I did get to connect with like a couple more East coast people from that.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (06:30): Awesome. Awesome. So how did you get the vision? I know I'm from the same area where you are, so I know that it's not always school is pushing you to go to a school like that, or even amongst family members, maybe some family members for me discouraged me from applying to school. My counselor didn't see that I would be able to go to a school like that. Can you tell us about how you got the vision and how you were able to execute on getting to a top school?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (06:53): I, I think I always reflect on this. I'm very lucky that my family and the, I had some, you know, as much as you have, like not so good teachers. I also had like really good teachers and like a counselor that like believed in me and was always pushing me to like apply to colleges, especially cause like I went to idea and if people know about like idea schools, they know that like their whole thing is like, you need to apply to college, you need to go to college. But I think like in seven, my like dream school is UT Austin. And that, that was like, I was like, if I get into that, like I'm set, I'm good. And it still is my dream school. That's actually where I'm applying for grad school and that's like my top choice. But I think it was in 11th grade when I was applying one of my, my college counselor was like, you should apply here.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (07:38): And I was like, well, like I'll apply, like not as a joke, but I was like, whatever happens, happens. I'm obviously like gonna try my best, but like sometimes you do get the advice of like write a sob story for your like essay. And I was like, I don't really have like any big, like dramatic, sad moment in my life. So I'm just going to write about my family. Cause that's like something I really appreciate. And I wrote about my family and I got in. But it was, I think I definitely like was able to make it because I had like just that support system. My mom actually worked at my school. She's launched lady and she says so like just seeing her and like she just constant motivation. And I think like my favorite thing was that like Ashley moved me into my dorm. She handed me like this journal and that journal was like filled with letters from like my high school coaches, like from when I played volleyball and stuff. I like my teachers from like middle school and it just had letters from everybody. And that just showed to me, like I had a lot of support from people back home and that was something that I could physically refer to when I was like feeling out of place.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (08:42): Awesome. Awesome. I absolutely love that. I'm hearing how multiple, multiple people really helped to influence you on that. Can you tell us maybe how a coach or a mentor or specifically a teacher may be how they influenced you to have success? I think

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (08:57): I definitely want to, the person that comes to mind now is one of the director of undergraduate studies from the romance language department. So she is now like my advisor, she's my mentor in college. And she's like I had a really difficult time, like going to office hours. Cause that's what they all, they tell like high schoolers, like, Oh, make sure you go to professors office hours, but it's really intimidating because like some of these professors are like the top of their field. Like they really know what they're doing. And I like, even as a senior, sometimes when I'm in class, I'm like, I don't know what's going on sometimes. So I would feel really intimidated to go to any office hours. But when I first met her it was, it was so crazy to, I was like, she's so nice.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (09:38): She's so down to earth. And I actually got to take a couple of classes with her. And she liked recognized my like sometimes my work wasn't like, like a worthy, like not in a worthy, like, was that a B, but like she recognize my ideas and she was willing to like work with me to like, get me to that. A so I think like just the advice that she's giving me is not even like advice is just the way she treats me, like I'm capable. And then she's like, she's very much like she respects my work and she sees like value in me. And I can tell just based off the conversations that we have. So I think like that relationship of like trust and like that academic relationship that we have built has been like some like, Oh, constant reminder of that people like value my work and that I'm actually producing like good work. And I'm just not here at Kamala cheap-ass. So that, that has definitely been an advisor, like a person that has like kept me going, I would say. And I still like, and we still talk sometimes I'll like book, office hours with her now just to talk, which is so crazy to think about. Cause like first year me was like, I never stepped foot into a professor's office and now I'm just booking office hours with her just to like catch up.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (10:46): Yeah, absolutely. I think it's really cool to see the competence level and the relationship level that grows. I had some professors that were like my freshmen opening semester. Professor never took another class, but I would end up doing office hours or, or they'd asked me like, Hey, let's go get a coffee. I think it's one of the things going to a school that has a little bit more of a smaller close-knit like UT Austin would be like a dream school for you, but there's so many students that it's hard to have the same thing that you're getting at like a Harvard or I got into Georgetown where I have professors that are, you know, taking me to dinner and, and keeping up with me even after college because you know, there's only a few of us that were in the classes. So having that relationship I think is so, so important. What would be a mistake that you would tell a student who maybe they're first generation and they're going to college to avoid, like, don't do this. This is a mistake that I made or I saw others make

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Joselyn Harvard LatinX (11:38): Yeah, no mistake. I think definitely I think putting too much pressure on yourself. Cause that's something that I did a lot through high school and I like to be very transparent about like what high school was like for me. Like I had several panic attacks just because I was like, I need to be like, I need to have straight A's whatever. At the end of the day I was like, I could have taken a break, like reflecting back on that. And I was like, Oh, I actually like had time to take a break. But I didn't like allow myself to do that. And that, that was also like part of what my freshman year was like, I kind of like closed myself off. I think my only friend was my roommate. And I still love her. We're still friends. But I like definitely like pushed away, like all the social activities that I could be doing.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (12:24): Because I was like trying to focus on one thing and like just academics. But after that, my like second, third, and all my final year, I kind of have more sense of like a balance. Like I obviously do need to do good in school and I like do want to graduate with like a good GPA, but I also don't want my experience to be solely academic because that's just as much as it is about academics. It's also very much about what you do outside of school with your extracurriculars, because you learn a lot of things that you couldn't learn just, just in a classroom. And obviously you do want to have a support system of friends to like help you through like difficult times.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (12:55): Yeah. And I think even building the network at a school like yours you know, there's so many other kids and we're all going to go do amazing things afterwards. And so building that network versus some kids, they really just focus on getting, let's say a 4.0 and it gets them into a good school afterwards, or if they want to do grad school and maybe that first job, but I would say so many of my friendships that I've had, but I got through college from being, you know, involved in activities outside of the classroom really, really helped me later on. And now as I go travel the country, speaking at universities and at programs and like conferences and such I have a friend at every single big city that I ever go to. So I'm always like just other people and getting to learn and, and have great relationships everywhere. So it's one of the things that I really loved. What would be someone who wanted to start a magazine or maybe a new club. You talk about some of the struggles because you all were not an official club early on. Can you, like, if you were to challenge someone or push them, like, Hey, you should start it. Can you kind of like give a little motivational tip on like, Hey, like you can do it, you can start it.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (14:05): Yeah. I would say I think like describe a group of people, like a group of people that like really like want to do this, want to dedicate themselves to like, I think like for us, we want to dedicate ourselves to giving a space to people that have like an underrepresented voice or that like usually don't have the opportunity to like express a writing because that's how the magazine came about. We have a lot of magazines on campus, but they're like very selective and a lot of like the organizations on campus. So a lot of people complain about this. Like once you get to Harvard, obviously, like it's, it's a complicated process in the acceptance rate is small, but then once you get there, clubs also go through this comp process. So that's like another, it was like, Oh, I already got here and I still need to like try out for all these different clubs, then I might get rejected. Joselyn Harvard LatinX (14:51): So that's something that like we wanted to get rid of. And we just wanted to give people an opportunity. So I would say like, as long as you have a group of people that believe in your mission, I think like everything else will come later, as long as like everyone has a drive to complete that. I would also say like, definitely research how, like your university has guidelines as to how to form a new club because you definitely want to get that recognition that way you have access to like a budget, like more money and spaces on campus and services for like printing and things like that. But I think that's secondary, like as long as you have people that believe in a mission then like that's, that's like the first step, I think.

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Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (15:29): Yeah. And I definitely would second that I was a part of a group that started when I was in college and it went from, we had no resources because we weren't clubs. So we'd like meet on the lawn only or like a coffee shop somewhere. We'd like try to gather tables. But then we were officially on like a group on campus. We could, you know, get a room, we could book the room funding you know, we could plan ahead and know, like we can have all kinds of amazing resources. So it was just really cool once you transitioned from that, like, is this even a real thing to, it just makes you feel way more like it's a true thing. And I actually remember years ago getting a letter in the mail where they're like, Hey, will you support some of our best clubs? And that club that I started was one of the clubs that was in the email to donate money to. I was like, Oh, cool. Like, awesome.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (16:23): Yeah. Yeah. I think like that was my favorite experience because that I think is my sophomore fall. So I want to say 2018. We had been working all semester on this magazine and I was like, I was like tired by the end of it. I was like, eh, I don't even know if it's worth it. Like, will I do it next year? But then like once we printed them and like, once I actually got to hold and I was like, this is so cool. And then some of the people that we featured sent me like a postcard, like thanking me, I was like, I'm just like, I didn't even know I was doing like half of the time, but it's like, it feels so gratifying to like, know that it means so much to people.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (16:57): It's trying to find a copy of like when you hold it in your hand is such a cool feeling. So the first book that I wrote was strictly an e-book. So I never held a copy in my hand. And the second book that I wrote this year, I'm like having it physically in my hand where I'm like, Oh, there's my face on a physical book. It just, it's kind of like a super cool thing. So I'm sure the same thing.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (17:19): Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It's so great.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (17:23): Now I did want to ask what would be a fear that maybe you had going into college going back to being a first generation, was there any fear that you were thinking of before you even stepped foot on campus?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (17:34): Oh God. Yeah. Just failing. I was absolutely. And that's, I think like what holds me back. So like a lot of the times that I don't even want to try anything for fear of failing or the like the first time I do something, it needs to be like, but like the last time, like it needs to be perfect from the first time. And I think that that's a thing that I'm constantly working at so that I like so that I won't hold me back anymore. And I like also like tell this story to like a lot of people that asked me. I was like, my first year, I was like, I don't think I can convey it anymore. Just cause like, like now I'm so happy. Like I'm almost done with school. Yay. But that first year was absolutely terrible. I like told my mom, like since you dropped me off to like, I think I came back from winter break.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (18:13): I cried every single day. And like, it was like the second week I actually met with like the freshmen Dean. So like the Dean of all the freshmen. And I sat down with her and I told her, you, you gotta like send me back. Like I don't, I need to drop out. I I'll, I'll find a year. I like I'll wait until next year to like apply to another university. Like I'm just going to go back. And she was like, classes haven't even started. Like, can you wait, can you wait til the semester is over? And I was like, okay, fine. Like, sure. I'll way. And then after that I didn't meet with her again. But it was, it was really difficult. And it was just like crying every single day. But then my mom was like, you know, you worked so hard to get here and you haven't even given yourself a chance. So it was like, that's true. Like I can't, I can't just quit without even trying. So might as well, like see what happens and that's kind of like my mentality, just like try your best and like, see what happens. So that's what I keep doing.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (19:12): Absolutely. I totally love that. And even when I was in school, I had that thought in my mind. But actually I used it as a motivation. I had seen other kids who had gone off and then come back and maybe they like, felt like a failure or they quit kind of early to where I felt like they hadn't given it, that real shot. So I was able to stay in it almost like in a weird way. I was telling myself, like, I'm not going to be that student that comes back failing. I'm going to like persevere no matter what. And just having like a mentality of like, Oh, I'm the one that's going to finish. It was really what helped me a ton of time early on. Now this is a part of the show where I kind of put myself on mute.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (19:54): I normally go like, I'm, I'm the speaker that goes everywhere. Doing what additional talks, but this is a moment where I cut myself out and actually give you complete full floor of my audience. So I'm going to take myself out of view and I'm also going to put myself on mute and you may want to reintroduce yourself because a lot of times I actually just cut this little clip out and use it for a challenge that I do online. So you may want to just reintroduce yourself, say, you know, you're, you're at Harvard, you're about to graduate. You start the magazine and then kind of go into like whatever your personal tip is for any student out there. And as soon as they give you a thumbs up, that means I am now on me.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (20:33): Hi everyone. My name is [inaudible]. I'm currently a senior at Harvard university. I'm about to graduate this spring semester. I was the first valedictorian of my school idea farm back in 2017. And I was of the co-founders of [inaudible], which is Harvard's first Latin X literary magazine. I think my like number one tip for any first-generation student going through like college or the college application process is definitely if I had to like boil down to one word, it would be balance like balance in terms of you don't want to let your work overpower your life. You don't also don't want to let your score or academics overpower your life. And you also don't want to let like your social life overpower your life. I definitely think it's combination of all those three things that will lead you to be your most successful.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (21:22): So a couple of like tips, I guess, would be, don't be afraid to ask for help. I think once I learned, and I was transparent with my friends that the struggles that I was going through it was really funny because we were like, Oh, you're, you're homesick. I'm also homesick. And knowing that other people were going through like the same struggles as I was like, definitely made me feel more at home with them. Make sure you prioritize the type of work you have to be doing, not just in time, not just in terms of academics, but also like if one day, like you just don't feel good. I think that would be the important day for you to prioritize yourself and do things that make you feel good. Go, I'll watch a movie, you know, FaceTime some friends, you know, chill, watch Netflix taking those breaks definitely important. And be conscious of yourself and your time. You definitely don't want to like how do people say like put too many things on your plate because then you're going to lose yourself to auto work and you're definitely going to overwhelm yourself. So try to be conscious of the things you can handle and that's where like the don't be afraid to ask for help comes in when you know that you weren't able to handle something, talk to someone or try to like mediate that work with somebody else.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (22:39): Awesome. That was awesome. Thank you so much, Jocelyn. And congratulations on all your success. I'm going to have to try to, to figure out where I can get some of the magazines. Is it only in print or do y'all have an online version?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (22:52): Oh, it's so this is where, okay, so we like use Amazon to publish so you can get them through Amazon. And that's like, we didn't know that we could use like university printing services, but now they're like, we're not in, like we got kicked out to do like remote learning. We still continue to use Amazon. So yeah,

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (23:13): Yeah. I've actually, I've picked up some stuff that was Harvard press. I didn't know if it was officially, like you don't have a publishing thing there on campus or something.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (23:21): Yeah, we do. We just did it. We didn't even get a chance to learn how to use it because we got, yeah, we got moved to remote learning. Yeah.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (23:29): Now I do want to ask so we would get on Amazon and if someone else wanted to connect with you, maybe they want to ask you advice personally, without having to go through a me, what would be the best way that they could reach you? I saw you on Instagram. That's how we connected, but what's the best way for you to be contacted?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (23:47): I think, I mean, I wouldn't mind Instagram is just like, it's my more, more like personal social thing. But I definitely on LinkedIn, I don't really like to, I'm not like the biggest networking person. That's also like something I'm working on. But definitely email it. I have like my college email and then like a more personal email. So both of those, cause I think I will only have access to my college email, like one more year. So I think either of those would be great.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (24:14): Awesome. Do you want to share with people what your personal email is or I'll probably put it on us like a ticker once we finish this.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (24:20): Oh yeah. It's Jocelyn, J O S E L Y N. [email protected]. And then my like regular GMO one is Joscelyn, J O S E L Y N dot betta, V E R [email protected].

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (24:37): Awesome. And if I wanted to try to submit something to your magazine, I know you said it's open to everyone out there. How can we all or how can I, myself and then anyone else out there submit to your magazine?

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (24:48): Yeah, you can follow us on Twitter. And I believe we also have Instagram on Instagram. Our submissions aren't currently open right now, but once we, once they are open, they are open to everyone.

Jonathan Medina Top #1 Youth Speaker (24:59): Awesome. Awesome. Absolutely. Love it again. Congratulations. And you know, all those, I do a lot of stuff with ideas, so I know that like you've gone and you've made no excuses and you've gone a hundred percent every day. Things like that. I'm just being a second to, so all the principles that I know, but thank you so much. I think you're an inspiration to many of the students, that idea and other kids in the Rio Grande Valley, and now being an inspiration there at Harvard as someone who's been a leader in Atlanta X community. Thank you so much for being that example and pushing the pace and, and going above and beyond. So thank you so much, Jocelyn, for taking the time to work with our, or to give your advice to all of the students out there and you have a wonderful, wonderful final semester there.

Joselyn Harvard LatinX (25:39): No, thank you so much for inviting me and yeah. Thank you for listening to me. Have a wonderful day. Bye bye.


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