Editor’s Note — This Q&A is part of a weekly conversation series that is celebrating Pride Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature Huskers who are making impacts on campus and look to maintain that momentum in future careers.
For this week of Pride Month 2023, we’re talking with Ale Guiza Gonzalez, an accounting major from Crete. Drawing on personal experiences, Guiza Gonzalez is working to surpass their goals, break down barriers and support fellow Huskers.
Talk about your involvement with the Inclusive Business Leaders program.
My involvement with the Inclusive Business Leaders program has been incredibly rewarding, offering me numerous opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. I initially joined the program because I was drawn to its important cause and wanted to actively contribute to something meaningful. Throughout my time in the program, I have gained valuable knowledge and skills related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the business world.
One of the key highlights of the program has been engaging in case studies and participating in consultation projects with real-world companies. These hands-on experiences have allowed me to apply the concepts we learned in a practical context. It has been eye-opening to see how I can effectively recognize and implement DEI tactics in a professional setting, and I have developed a deeper understanding of the importance of creating inclusive environments.
Beyond the educational aspect, what truly made this program special for me was the connections I formed with my classmates. From carpooling to our consultation meetings to bonding over shared meals before class, we became a close-knit community. This sense of camaraderie and support not only made the transition from high school to college much smoother, but also helped relieve my feelings of loneliness coming into my first semester. It truly felt like a home away from home, and I am grateful for the friendships I have made through the program.
You received the IBL Community Builder Award this past year for building connections and making people feel at home. Talk a bit about why you’re passionate about that.
Receiving the IBL Community Builder Award this past year was a significant honor for me, and it reflects my passion for creating connections and fostering a sense of belonging among individuals. The reason I am so passionate about making people feel at home is rooted in my own personal experiences.
Growing up, I didn’t have that sense of community and belonging that I longed for. I always felt like one of the “weird kids” during high school, and it was a challenging time for me. However, when I entered college, I made it my goal to change that image of myself and create a different experience for others. I didn’t want anyone else to feel the same loneliness and isolation that I once did.
Additionally, being kind and supportive to people simply brings me joy. Seeing others happy and feeling like they belong is incredibly rewarding. It also helps me personally, as it allows me to fight my own feelings of loneliness and isolation that linger from my past. Being able to contribute to a positive and welcoming community not only benefits others but also enriches my own sense of fulfillment and well-being.
How have involvements on campus, like with IBL and Pride in Business, shaped your college experience thus far?
Being involved in these organizations has allowed me to meet a diverse range of individuals who share similar passions and interests. Through collaborative projects, events and meetings, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers who have become an integral part of my college community. The sense of camaraderie and shared purpose has fostered a sense of belonging and contributed to the growth of a vibrant and inclusive campus community.
In addition, these involvements have provided me with invaluable support throughout my college journey. Having a network of individuals who understand and share similar experiences and challenges has been instrumental in navigating the transition from high school to college. Whether it’s academic guidance, emotional support or simply someone to lean on during challenging times, the connections I’ve formed within these organizations have played a vital role in making my college experience more fulfilling and less overwhelming.
Lastly, my involvement in these organizations has ignited a genuine excitement for being on campus. Engaging in activities and initiatives that align with my passions and values has created a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It has motivated me to take on leadership positions and step up to make a difference within these communities. Through these leadership roles, I’ve gained valuable skills, developed my confidence and expanded my network of connections both within and beyond campus.
Do you have any goals for your role as treasurer of Pride in Business?
As the treasurer of Pride in Business, I have several goals that I aim to achieve during my term. Firstly, my primary objective is to ensure the financial stability and sustainability of the organization. This means managing the budget effectively, keeping track of expenses and working closely with the executive team to make informed financial decisions.
Additionally, I am committed to supporting the president of Pride in Business and her vision for the organization. As treasurer, I aim to work collaboratively with the executive team, offering my assistance and input whenever necessary. I am dedicated to fulfilling my duties as treasurer and contributing to the overall growth and success of Pride in Business while fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members.
Is there anything you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
In my lifetime, there are several things I hope to accomplish, both personally and professionally. One of my aspirations is to achieve financial stability and success, which holds particular significance for me as I come from a humble background. Growing up in a low-income immigrant family has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the value of financial security. My goal is to break the cycle of limited resources and create a solid financial foundation that not only provides for my own needs but allows me to support my loved ones and contribute to causes that are important to me. I believe that financial security provides opportunities for personal growth, the ability to break generational curses and the freedom to make a positive impact in various spheres.
On a personal level, I aspire to become a role model and mentor for teenagers. Adolescence can be a challenging time, and having a supportive adult figure can make a significant difference in a young person’s life. I want to be someone who can offer guidance, support and inspiration to teenagers, helping them navigate through life’s ups and downs while encouraging them to reach their full potential.
Another goal of mine is to be a voice for change and advocate for those who may not have the same privileges and opportunities. In particular, I am passionate about adoption and the well-being of older children in the foster care system. I hope to adopt older kids in the future, providing them with a loving and stable home and being the person who they can rely on if they face difficult situations. By breaking down barriers and stereotypes associated with adoption, I aim to contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate society.
What or who inspires you?
I find inspiration from many sources, notably myself and the mentors who played a significant role in my life. Their wisdom, expertise and belief in my potential have been instrumental in shaping my journey. Witnessing their achievements and the positive impact they have made in their respective fields has instilled in me a sense of possibility and the belief that I can also make a difference.
In addition to the influence of my mentors, I believe in the power of self-motivation and reflection. Throughout my journey, I often remind myself of my past accomplishments and the hurdles I have overcome. This inner dialogue reinforces my belief in my capabilities and fuels my determination to continue pushing forward. Recognizing the progress I’ve made in the past serves as a reminder that I am capable of achieving my goals and overcoming challenges in the future.
Moreover, I draw inspiration from the idea of my future self. Visualizing the person I aspire to become and envisioning the life I want to lead motivates me to work hard and persevere, especially given my mental health journey and the challenges I have faced with past isolation and depression. It serves as a constant reminder that the actions and decisions I make today can shape the person I become tomorrow. This forward-looking mindset helps me maintain focus and stay committed to my goals.
By combining the guidance of mentors, the power of self-motivation, and the vision of my future self, I draw strength and inspiration to continue growing, learning and making a positive impact in the world. Together, these sources of inspiration create a powerful synergy that fuels my drive and shapes my journey.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
My advice to other students is to embrace their fears and push through them. Usually, if you feel uncomfortable with an idea, whether it is to join an RSO, or run for a leadership position, it is a sign that it’s worth pursuing. Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be intimidating, especially if you are an introvert with serious social anxiety like me. However, I have found that the most rewarding experiences have emerged from pushing through my initial fears.
My other piece of advice is to find a support group on campus. Having friends, mentors or professors to lean on can make dealing with unfamiliar situations much easier. They provide guidance, encouragement and a safety net when things get challenging. In my experience, having mentors and friends by my side not only helped me navigate new experiences but also kept me on track with my academic goals. My IBL mentor, for instance, played a significant role in my success this past semester, providing valuable support and guidance.
Embracing fears, seeking support and pushing through discomfort can lead to personal growth, expanded opportunities and a greater impact on campus, so don’t hesitate to step out of your comfort zone and seek the support you need to make the most of your college experience.