Virtues from Motherhood: A Letter to my Friends

A Letter to my Friends,

In a few days, all three of you will walk across the stage at the Barclay’s center, solidifying the end of a chapter in your lives. I am so proud of each of you, and it has been a privilege to watch you grow and find success. I know each of you will bring such light and greatness to wherever you go next. Though I’ve only had the fortune of knowing you for two years, it feels like we’ve known each other decades and I know I’ve made lifelong friends.

My journey here at City Tech was shaped by you, your presence, your support and all our shared moments of laughter, triumph and at times relief. Until I got here I never had a real college experience, I was never apart of things on campus and I never felt like I belonged, but you all changed that. I looked forward to coming to school every day and sharing classes and breaks together made me feel like I was meant to be here and that I was going to be alright.

I will miss each of you so much when I begin my final semester here in the fall but I’ll share all the great experiences and values I had with you three with the peers I encounter before I leave. When I think back on all my attempts at college and all the times I tried and failed, it no longer seems like such a big deal because I’ve found such great success, and great people here. I want to thank you amazing ladies for letting me into your lives, for sharing your time and input with me, for dealing with me when I was on the brink of a meltdown and most all for being a friend when I felt like I had none. I will always look back on this time of my life as a flourishing, happy and most of all one filled with love and I will always tell my daughter about the experiences I’ve had at City Tech. Congratulations!

Your friend,

Samantha

 

Samantha and Mariah- New Tech Times relaunch 12/15/16

Samantha and Jodieann- New Tech Times relaunch 12/15/16

Samantha and Pam- New Tech Times relaunch 12/15/16

Academic Self-Discovery: Mentorship

Mentoring is a way of passing down knowledge from one person to another, yet it is also deeper than that. It is also about helping the mentee gain confidence in themselves and for whatever it was they had difficulty with. That for me is the goal to have during the journey to academic self-discovery. Recently I was given an allegory on how impactful mentoring can be for all whose involved. The allegory goes like this: there is a dark room and inside are people holding candlesticks without flame. Then walks in a person with a candle that is lit. This person decides to share their light with another and now the room has a faint amount of light, however, it is still not bright enough. If the two share it with more and those they share it with do the same with the rest, eventually the entire romm will become illuminated. That is what mentoring is about. Giving “light” to those that are in need of it.

Mentorship is the act of teaching and learning, gaining information from those with more experience. This has been done for years and years and though we might not have called the people who are our gardians, siblings, friends, or teachers “mentors”, that is in a way what they are because they all contribute something to our lives. Most mentors have an insight on how things work from their own experiences, due to this they are able to give their mentee the best advise or support needed. Mentors in the field the mentee is attempting will know the right ways to push and motivate them to continue. It is not only the mentee that benefits form having a mentorship, the mentor also gains from this. The mentor will have the chance to test their skills and what they know and they most likely will be filled with the sense of purpose and accomplishment from helping others.

There are many programs and internships people can look up and join that involves mentoring. One of the programs that I know has mentoring opportunities at City Tech is BMI (Black Male Initiative). Despite their name they are open for all (women and people of other races). They provide academic help and guidance to make sure students do not just succeed but help others to succeed as well. I’ve heard personal stories of growth from members of that program, such as them being once too shy to speak to an audience to now being able to stand infront of a crowd and speak almost fully at ease. Mentorship is a great way to add something intresting to resumes, a great way of helping others and your community, a chance to improve at the things one struggles with, and so much more.

Have you ever been a mentor or a mentee? How was your experience like? If you want to share just leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.

Academic Self-Discovery: The Keys

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In my previous post a fellow blogger, Amanda, commented that my “dedication will take [me] a very long way” and that I should “remember to never give up and keep trying!” No matter how many times similar advice have been given by family members, friends, teachers or even celebrity members it is always greatly appreciated. Encouragement can mean alot when figuring out vocational direction. When it comes to chasing dreams, learning to fly, and exploring passions/career goals there will be obstacles to face – as like all things in life. Sometimes on the journey to this passionate occupation hardships and/or doubt will arise. One can find themselves in situations that make it seem like what they aspire to attain is unachievable. There might be days when thoughts come along of being inadequate to the field in comparison to better suited peers.

Something that have personally helped me in these moments is reminding myself that I can only be me. I like some competition every now and then because it makes me really push myself and helps me learn from others, yet what I really believe is that focusing on myself is *DJ Khaled voice* the major key. Focusing on if I am improving or not and worrying less about if I am as good as someone else. What I have come to learn -as cliche as it sounds- is to do the best that I can. And doing my best does not mean that I do not reach out for help when I need it but actually the opposite. Doing my best means that I really work for something and reach out for assistance if I need it to get to where I wish to be.

Another thing that has helped me is knowing the reason why I am doing something. Am I doing it for myself? For my family? For the money? Does it make me happy? Having a good reason to work hard for something can be really motivational. Influencing others in a positive way has always been important to me. I remember being in this club my junior year in high school and talking about what jobs we wanted to pursue. I did not know exactly what I wanted then but I knew that I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives in some shape or form. That is why I write and why I am interested in becoming a physical therapist. Though I write for fun, it is also a way I can share and connect with others while becoming a physical therapist is a way I can support and give treatment to people in need.

I’m sure there are more things that I have applied to my life during times of uncertainty that I can bring up however, the final thing I will say is that it is important to belive in yourself (I know, I know. Another cheesy cliche) but it is true. I struggle with this just like most people but believing in myself, in my skills and in my dreams allows me to take chances instead of letting the fear of failure win or thinking about the what if’s. Even if things do not work out the way I planned them to and I have setbacks, believing in myself makes it possible for me to have a mindset that says “I can do this” and get back up and try again.

If anyone would like to share their own experiences and the different ways they faced challenging times or feelings of doubt, feel free to do so. No pressure though. And if there are any other comments you might have about this post I would love to read them. Thank you for reading!

Introducing Samantha Pezzolanti: Virtues From Motherhood

By Pamela Drake

Our Stories: An Intimate Connections Series

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Photograph by Samantha Pezzolanti

No matter what you’re going through in life, know that you are not alone. There are other people just like you. Samantha Pezzolanti, for example, a student and a passionate writer in the Professional & Technical Writing program at City Tech. Her life hasn’t exactly been easy.

For a person who went through some hardships—once a single teen mom herself—Samantha has endured quite a lot in her life. Yet it’s those very hardships that allow her to speak from a place of experience. Inspired by her 7-year-old daughter, she inspires other parents with her own blog, Virtues From Motherhood.

1. Describe yourself in one word? How does this word represent you?

Resilient. I chose this word because, in a nutshell, it means being able to bounce back and overcome odds and in my life I’ve had every reason not to succeed. Albeit a result of my own choices, I found myself in some rough patches in life. But, I’ve managed to navigate them to get to this point in my life.

2. Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

My biggest influence would be my mom. She’s been my cheerleader, bad cop, and more. Through my whole life, no matter what it is I’m dealing with, she reminds me I can just do it. I admire my mom for being out of the workforce for a decade to raise kids, then jumping right back in and building a career. I also admire every young mom like myself who has taken the somewhat impossible lifestyle and silenced all naysayers. My daughter has influenced me to do what I’m doing now because I don’t ever want her to doubt her abilities like I’ve doubted mine. I want to show her the sky really is the limit.

3. What tools or personality traits do you think is indispensable for accomplishing your goals?

Firstly, confidence. You can’t get others to see your worth and abilities if you yourself don’t see and advocate for them. Secondly, perseverance because you will strike out sometimes but if you don’t lick your wounds and keep going you’ll never rise above it. Lastly, be personable. You have to know how to talk to people and more importantly, listen to them.

4. What is still your biggest challenge or stumbling block(s) and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?

My biggest challenge would probably be becoming a mother as a teenager. I love my daughter and I love being a mom but having to grow up, learn to be a mom, navigate college and make enough money to live on is a huge challenge. In fact, I’ve had professors and advisors tell me to give up and get into a trade and for a while, I listened. However, the best way I’ve found to overcome them is to ask for help, use my resources, and trust the people that love me. I’ve also learned to manage my time and trust in my abilities, and when I need to, work a little harder.

5. What’s the best advice you ever received?

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” This quote is what the speaker at my graduation said and it’s always stuck with me.

6. What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

I wouldn’t have dropped out of college. If I had recognized my own potential, I would have been able to recognize and reach my goals a lot sooner.

7. What’s your best advice for handling criticism?

Realize early on that not everyone will like you or want to be your friend, even more so when you become more successful or have a position or skill they want. So sometimes people who secretly envy you will be harsh and a little mean but try and sift through that and find some valid points. If you can’t, don’t let them get under your skin. When getting criticism from superiors or professors, however, remember again not to take it personally. Remember they have deadlines and people to answer to as well. Take what they’ve said and make a bulleted list on what you need to work on. Then look back through your work and see what you can feasibly do on your own and don’t feel shy about asking for help.

8. What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

That it is possible! I had let go of the image of myself walking across the stage for a degree for years but as I get closer and closer to my second college degree, I realize it isn’t out of reach. I’ve also learned that nobody is perfect, in fact, most people are just as messy as I am and the trick is to making messy look easy.

9. What’s next for you?

Well, first on the list is get my bachelor’s degree. After that, I want to dive into a career in technical communication or content management. After that, I might consider a graduate degree. Who knows?

10. What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered for being human. This sounds peculiar but I want to be remembered for making a difference with my words, helping other people and blazing a path I was told I would never walk.

As you can see, it’s Samantha’s positive attitude that has taken her this far. She could have given up but she believed that there were more opportunities for success ahead of her. This interview was important because too many people feel that they are alone and that no one knows what the’re going through. Like Samantha, maybe you’ve had a similar challenge. Was there ever a time that you wanted to give up but didn’t? What was it that kept you going? Or maybe you’re out of school and want to return. Just believe in yourself and know that success awaits you.

Virtues from Motherhood: Forgiveness

 

Ava and I Fall 2013

Ava and I Fall 2013

Learning to forgive is something that is instilled in us from childhood. We’re told to “forgive and forget” in order to come to terms with the blemishes others may leave on your life. Though I don’t personally believe in the forget aspect because to me every hardship or set back you experience allows us to learn something by forgiving. And why would you want to forget a lesson learned?

Forgiveness is a double-sided arrow as it is something you grant others as well as something you grant yourself. Learning to forgive yourself is as crucial to your personal growth as forgiving others is. It’s not always easy to forgive yourself because it’s not always easy to admit you gave it your best and it still was not enough.

I learned to forgive myself after I realized I had brought a child into this world who would never have that chance at normalcy that most other kids are born with. She would never have that Mom, Dad family or that two-parent household because Ava was being raised by a single mom. Ava’s father and I split when she was two years old after realizing we had ended up on different paths in life. At first the reality didn’t phase me much because I felt that all the love and support I was giving her was more than enough. It wasn’t until she began school and there was “parents night” and “fathers day lunch” that I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt.

It occurred to me that if I noticed these things other people, mainly other kids, would as well. I wondered what would happen when kids asked her where her dad was or why she didn’t see him often. My biggest fear however is that she would in some way be mad at me for the life she was born into. I constantly over compensated to try and ease my mind; the guilt would keep me up at night. It wasn’t that I felt I was a bad mom or I wasn’t capable, it was that I had her while I was still young myself and she would have to grow with me instead of just reaping the rewards of it later in life.

It took me a long time to grant myself that sense of forgiveness I needed to keep progressing. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a family friend who asked me would it have been fair to Ava to let her grow up seeing me settle? Seeing me settle for a relationship that was toxic to me, settle for not graduating college and then in turn have Ava feel that I was unhappy because I gave up everything for her. I had never thought of it that way and it made me realize several things about the people around me who had in the past admitted they’d settled for things. I didn’t want Ava to feel settling was okay or that you had to give up on yourself when you felt the slightest bit of defeat.

I forgave myself for not giving Ava that “cookie cutter” family and for having her walk with me along my journey to success. It occurred to me for the first time that maybe her seeing me reach my goals despite the obstacles I faced would be motivation for her that I would be able to show her and not just tell her in the future. Finally I forgave myself because I knew I was capable of more and that no matter what hand I was dealt, I would let the cards fall where they may. Instead of accepting defeat or succumbing to my own guilt, I powered through it because your past does not define your future it is merely another brick in the foundation of your life.

Virtues from Motherhood: A Full Time Life

Everyone in life has goals, dreams or aspirations of what they aim to achieve in life. People make plans and timelines to accomplish these things with the hope that they won’t be derailed or rerouted along the way. Reality however tells us that isn’t how things work and my life is testament to it. At 18 years old, in my very first semester of college I found out that I was pregnant. That was one of the most emotional days of my life; fear, anxiety, excitement and confusion overwhelmed me. How could I raise a baby? Would I be a good mom? What would happen to my goals and plans for myself?

Ultimately I decided to have the baby, a little girl I named Ava. After weighing my options and listening to the opinions and advice of my close friends and family I decided that I made an adult choice and I would just arrange my life goals around raising a daughter. To my surprise that was far easier said than done and I found myself overwhelmed with a newborn and a full time college schedule. I dropped out of John Jay College when Ava was 9 months old and didn’t return to college until 2013. Dropping out of college was a difficult and defeating choice for me and I felt lost and unmotivated after. I felt like I’d failed myself and my family and most of all Ava. My biggest fear was that I wouldn’t be someone she looked up to or admired and that she’d feel I was a quitter. So at 23 I rolled my sleeves up and went back to college, albeit no easy task while working full time but I was determined to finish what I’d started.

In June of 2015 at 25 years old I finally earned a college degree, an Associates in Business Administration. I didn’t have plans to go on for my bachelors but my advisor and English professor encouraged me to keep going and recognize my own potential. I am so glad I continued onto City Tech because in one semester I have met such amazing people and made life long friends. I have met professors who believe in and encourage me and make me feel that my goals are possible.

That is why I am writing this blog I want other moms or even other parents who are working and going to school while raising a child that this is possible and you can do it. I want anyone who’s been told to give up, go home or quit to read my experiences and feel inspired or reach out for support. My high school guidance counselor told me that I would never get any type of college degree being a teen mom that I should forget college and go find a full time job. Not only was she insanely unprofessional, she was wrong because I earned my degree and I’m working on a second. So whoever you are, whatever you’re doing know that it is possible and you will succeed because we all have the power inside of us to do so despite the struggles that we have endured. Remember the word impossible itself says “I’m possible”.

 

Comment Below and share your story. Have you ever faced adversity and triumphed? Are you a parent in school? Share your story I’d love to hear and get to know my followers!

On the left is Ava and I when she was a newborn. On the right is Ava and I at my college graduation in June 2015.

On the left is Ava and I when she was a newborn in March 2009. On the right is Ava and I at my college graduation in June 2015.

Your Network Determines Your Net Worth

I know it is 4-20 and it would be cool to read about all type of hemp influenced products or why/why not weed should be legalized, but there are much more important subjects to blog about.

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Hemp Energy Drinks by AudioVision via CC* License 

Such as …

“Your network determines your net worth.” To the growing hemp producers  that phrase might be all too familiar (lol), but for you younger folk it may sound very new. And thats okay, but after today I want you to never forget it.

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3D Social Networking by Chris Potter via CC License

According to Dictionary.com A network is an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide mutual 

assistance, helpful information, or the like. When you meet people on your career path or those in your hobby-generated groups you may automatically connect them with your “network.” Although those people have common interests, they become apart of your network, and vice versa, only when you put actively add them to it. Of course that is figuratively speaking, you cannot actually pick people up and put them in a physical network. But just think if you collect business cards, phone numbers, and emails from everyone you meet, even those who do not seem to share common interest with you, you may have thousands of contacts within a few months. After you converse and exchange contacts, you must personally follow up with people and even subscribe them to your monthly mailing or email list if you have one. If you walk by people, choose to bail on networking, and refuse to attend all social events, you are missing a possible life alternating opporntunity.

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Helping Hand Edited by Stormgirl via CC license

Some may not know, or even believe that I can be a shy person. It’s true. I would choose to opt out of a phone conversation or even a face-to-face chat unless I know a person very well. THIS IS DISASTROUS for anyone.  How can I be successful in real estate, let alone in the entertainment industry, if I can not socialize or speak to a person or a crowd. Most times I pump my self up or just brush away the fear, but it is a skilled that can only be mastered if practiced. So people, next time you are about to send a mass text/email try sending it personally to someone or calling them directly. That will help build a trusting relationship. You may even spark a conversation that inquires about each of your skill sets and interests, which in return build a network that will allow for exchange of services, sharing of knowledge, or even referrals.

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Business Meeting by thetaxxhaven via CC license

And thats where you build your net worth, which can be thought of as the total assets of a business minus its total liabilities (Dictionary.com). A person can be a brand, or business, as well. Theoretically, your net worth can be calculated by actual financials or based on those connected to you in someway. Those connections can be a direct link to leads, future income, knowledge, and more.

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Business by Gerald via CC license

*CC: Creative Common

Dedicated to some of the men in my life who practice and preach this concept:

  • My Dad Larry, personal trainer & (Co-Owner of Brooklyn Billionairez)
  • My Uncle Dave, business owner in the Automotive & Entertainment industry
  • My Uncle Sammy, mutli-business owner including We Have it ALL
  • My Brother-Cousin Samar, Owner of Made Realty & Made Capital Corp.

Happy Birthday Samar, you will continue to add on to your network and success.


QUESTIONS TO THE AUDIENCE: Are you nervous when networking? | Do you leave events early to avoid feeling awkward when talking to others? | Do you have stories of success based on your network? | Do you feel having people in your network is similar to using people? | How do you network? | Can you give me advice.