I was born and raised in Guatemala, the land of eternal spring, but my life changed at the age of 14 when my siblings and I moved to New York to reunite with both my parents. In Guatemala, I lived in a poor neighborhood where there were “zero to none opportunities” for education and where the drive for success was nothing but a forgotten dream for many. However, I lived the miracle of coming to the United States at a young age and having the opportunity to completely dive into a new culture and a new language. An endless thirst for learning made me feel like I could learn anything and everything. I was then reborn and I found new avenues of strength despite having been away from my parent’s warmth for 7 years. As a teen living in a sleepless city, I wanted to attend college, I wanted to keep learning, I wanted to see the world—a burning desire to have a positive impact in my community was now in full ignition.
After graduating from SUNY New Paltz with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, I did not yet feel satisfied so I went for a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications at Marist College. Driving this journey, I adopted a growth mindset and realized that I had barely scratched the surface of my untapped potential. Marketing showed me yet another completely different digital world. There is so much that I could learn and explore in this field. I also now have a new identity as a Hispanic immigrant woman with a Master’s degree–I surpassed my own limiting thresholds and became part of the 5% of Latinos in the U.S. with a Master’s degree.
It seems that I am always putting myself in challenging situations to become a well-rounded individual. I do so because I have an insatiable hunger for Meaningful Success. It is because of my burning desire to find meaning that I have decided to pursue my own path as a Social Entrepreneur during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of 2020, I had a full-time 9-5 job as a marketing assistant where I would stare at a computer all day–I was the classic American worker unhappy with my job and life. At the office, I always felt that there was no teamwork or efficient team communication. I never felt comfortable applying my newfound marketing knowledge, something I had worked so hard to gain at college, and never saw myself evolving as a leader which I believed was a prerequisite to becoming an agent of change.
The decision to go forward with my business idea was like a catapult that propelled me to the starting line! I had the privilege of interning at the GCSEN Foundation where I was given the opportunity to take the GCSEN programs, which included Principles of Social Entrepreneurship SE101, Social Venture Formation SE102 and be a part of their GCSEN Minimum Viable Product (MVP) day and the Social Venture Research Institute (SVRI) program. As an immigrant, it was empowering to see a group of people coming together to listen to your story, to allow you to speak and hear what you have to provide, and to be curious about who you are.
I believe I got to WOW when I decided to pitch my business, Najera Studios, at the GCSEN Minimum Viable Product (MVP) day this past summer. I was hesitant to present my business idea because I thought I was not ready nor did I know fully what I wanted my business to be about. But I knew that my “imposter syndrome” had to be put to the side this time and I had to be courageous and believe in myself. I spoke to my mentor and friend Mike Caslin, Founder and CEO of GCSEN Foundation, and he changed my perspective completely about how I felt about pitching my business idea. I ended up pitching my Social Venture the next morning. To me, it was a WOW experience because I embraced my desire to make meaning with my life and put aside the fear of not being good enough, make money and move the world to a better place.
As I embark on my own new journey of becoming a Social Entrepreneur, I still face doubts that hold me back. However, I am thankful that I am a part of the GCSEN Community where I am reminded that I belong there, that I am valued, and that I will always be supported as a lifelong GCSEN alumna! My vision is for young entrepreneurs like myself to learn about how amazing the GCSEN Foundation is; that they can also join me in Social Entrepreneurship ventures so eventually they can also experience their own WOW on their own.
With a humble heart, I thank you for reading a little bit of my story. I hope I can inspire you to get to WOW yourself!
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!
Flor Najera, Najera Studios, CEO and Founder