A guest post by Jackie Ruszczyk, a Leadership Certificate Series facilitator for the Student Leadership Challenge.

Two years ago I was blessed with the experience to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico and live abroad for a month. Oaxaca was a culture shock for me; it was not like the everyday life I was use to. Like a flip of a switch, I went from speaking English to Spanish. The people, however, were so friendly and made me feel welcomed and confident in my Spanish abilities. While I was there, I taught English to two college students, ate unforgettable food, saw beautiful waterfalls, and grew as an individual. My leadership opportunities were abundant during my trip abroad; I lead students on their journey to become fluent in English.

After a month away, I was forced back to my reality; I came back to Storrs, Connecticut where I would soon learn that my leadership opportunities would not end after Mexico. I first became a facilitator for the Discovery leadership program here at the University of Connecticut and then transitioned to become a facilitator for the Challenge this semester. Being a facilitator for the Challenge this semester was a new opportunity, but most importantly a challenge for myself as a facilitator. This is only my second semester as a facilitator for the program, but I have gained a lot of knowledge. Where has the majority of my knowledge come from, you might ask? The answer for me is simple: I have immensely learned from the participants in the program. Therefore, I don’t want this blog post to focus on myself, but rather to focus on them. The participants are actively learning and asking great questions throughout this semester. They have really put themselves out of their own personal comfort zone. I am proud to say that these participants are the future leaders here at the University of Connecticut and I will continue to make sure they have successful journeys, just like the students I taught in Mexico. As we are already half-way done with the program, there is so much room for growth and I can not wait to see where this program takes each and everyone of my participants.