Michelle Peralta Reflection

I am so thankful to UMBrella for providing me the opportunity to attend the Women’s Leadership Institute. This was my first female focused professional development experience and it knocked me off my chair with the amount of support and empowerment I received from so many women leaders in academia.

There were so many takeaways from the conference, however, I noticed myself writing down three mantras over and over: “Be sponsor ready,” “Embrace who you are,” and “The Team, The Team, The Team!” When I came to UMB five years ago, I was lucky to have a great mentor at the School of Medicine. Dr. Chiaramonte strengthened my leadership skills, embraced my authenticity, and saw the true grit in me. She continued to build my skills and always challenged me to think beyond one event, one program, and even the job. These mantras were instilled from her mentorship and now resurfaced at the #WLI2018.

Part of the conference is understanding your executive presence. I learned that I lead by inspiring and motivating others to be leaders. I want to be a source of energy for others. I want to empower, motivate, and align the needs of the students with the resources on campus. Partners matter. Teams matter. Sometimes we get lost in the job and it is moments like this that bring us to our “why.” We all can burnout (including the Health Educator!). This conference helped refresh me mentally, physically, and emotionally to bring my best self to work.

In many workshops we were encouraged and pushed to think bigger and go after that “big dream.” There is no doubt that I have a passion for college health. My dream has been to be a director of a health promotions office. After feeling empowered to do more research, my dream has expanded to be the Director of Health and Wellness, managing offices such as the Counseling Center, Recreation, and Health Promotions. To make my dream come true, I know that I need my DrPH. I found myself feeling more confident each day at the conference about pursuing a terminal degree. By the third day, I had researched and picked out three programs. My favorite moment was the last day when those who had terminal degrees spent five minutes at their table encouraging us to JUST DO IT! I have made the decision to pursue a DrPH once my MPH is completed this upcoming summer. Thanks to the support and empowerment of UMBrella and WLI, my dreams will be a reality.

The UMBrella group has provided more than I believed I deserved. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity on campus to connect with women in leadership roles and aspire to be one. I am grateful to share the experience with a colleague, and now friend, Lauren Levy. Together, we want to continue our support for each other and empower others to apply for the scholarship. JUST DO IT! Additionally, we want to start a group that would continue to empower past WLI attendees at UMB and aspire each other to reach our leadership goals.

-Michelle Peralta