HPM Student Spotlight: Cecy Granados ’22, College Leadership Rhode Island

Cecy Granados ’22

Meet Cecy Granados. She is a junior at Providence College who is studying both Health Policy & Management and Global Studies. Granados is a first-generation college student from Baltimore, Maryland. Within the College, she is a Feinstein Community Fellow, Coordinator of the Peer Mentoring Program for First-Generation Students, and a member of the Diversity Outreach Team.

Despite the unusual circumstances the COVID-19 pandemic has caused recently, Granados’ determination to cultivate her leadership skills and network with prominent figures has not been hindered. In the summer of 2020, Granados was accepted into the College Leadership Rhode Island (CLRI) program. CLRI is an academic year-long leadership program geared toward college students and recent college graduates between the ages of 18 and 26. The program supplies participants with the opportunity to network with distinguished individuals in Rhode Island, foster their soft skills, learn more about their leadership potential, and survey the private, nonprofit, public, and philanthropic sectors of Rhode Island. The program consists of nine session days, which are scattered throughout the academic school year. Ultimately, the program effectively prepares participants to progress from college to their intended careers.

Granados took the time to discuss her involvement in CLRI with the HPM Department. Learn more about her experiences through our interview below.

What inspired you to apply to CLRI?

I found out about the CLRI program through a newsletter I received from the Feinstein Community Fellow Program. Afterward, I was nominated to the program by one of the coordinators at the Feinstein Community Fellow program. This prompted me to look more into CLRI. Based on the information I read on CLRI, I was inspired to follow up on my nomination due to how intriguing the program is. I felt that a program such as this would help me further enhance my leadership skills. Additionally, CLRI provides me with an opportunity to emerge myself in an environment in which I could learn more about other community members within Rhode Island who also want to fortify their leadership qualities while learning ways of bettering our community.

How would you describe the program thus far?

Typically, each session consists of a variety of different activities such as Clifton strengths workshops, presentations, listening to renowned individuals speak about their experience, and participating in group activities. Leadership Rhode Island (LRI) brings a wide array of speakers that share their wisdom and experience with us. Each one has an interesting story to share. Furthermore, the Clifton strengths workshops are extremely beneficial. I was able to learn more about what my respective Clifton strengths entail. Since learning more about them, I have been able to put each one of these strengths into both my academic and professional career.

One of the most beautiful and special attributes of CLRI is that everyone comes from different walks of life. This is emphasized during our first session. While each one of us has a different story and upbringing, we all have that same drive and passion to work in communities whether it is in the nonprofit, private, government, or philanthropic sector. Being able to have profound conversations with my classmates about improving communities and discussing our passion for social justice and social change has been one of the most meaningful moments. Many of my classmates have expressed a sincere understanding of cultural competency, which is something that is very important to me as a person of color, and a HPM and Global Studies double major. Through these conversations, my classmates and I have been able to gain a wealth of knowledge from each other.

When I was initially nominated to the program, the program was supposed to be in person. As a result of the global pandemic, LRI’s staff members decided to host the program in a virtual setting. This is different from how LRI has operated the program in the past. In the past, participants, speakers, and staff members would travel to various locations across Rhode Island. Regardless of these changes, my experience has been wonderful. Virtually, I have been able to meet other people that I otherwise would not meet without partaking in this program. Furthermore, the change has allowed LRI to diversify the number of speakers it brings because transportation is no longer a factor the organization must worry about. Also, I want to commend LRI’s staff members for their hard work and dedication. They go above and beyond to ensure that we get a worthwhile experience that will leave a significant impact on our lives. Without them, none of this would be possible.

CLRI is a tuition-free, academic-year-long program (September-May) that prepares students and recent college graduates to navigate life after college. Through experiential learning, students explore careers in the nonprofit, private, public, and philanthropic sectors, while developing soft skills and leadership competencies for the 21st century.

How has your participation in CLRI contributed to your studies as a HPM major?

Within the HPM department, one question that is always emphasized is “How can we as public health advocates learn more about the various sectors and communities that we are going to someday work in?” This is a question I constantly think about. Specifically, I have worked with different nonprofit organizations in Providence, and I did not know much about the nonprofit sector other than they work with communities. However, being able to meet other individuals with notable careers in the nonprofit and government field has helped me gain a deeper understanding of both these sectors.

Moreover, CLRI has helped me think about ways in which I can add value and a voice to various communities that have encountered social disparities of health. Many of the visiting speakers at CLRI have done an extensive amount of research in different areas that affect the scarcity of resources in their profession, and this has inspired me to do the same.

How has this program contributed to your future professional and academic goals?

CLRI has contributed greatly to my future goals. In the future, I would like to obtain a graduate degree. CLRI has helped me envision what type of graduate school and program I want to pursue. I have been able to speak with numerous graduate students regarding their choice of school. These conversations have helped facilitate my own research as I look into programs.

As a whole, the program has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of what type of profession I want to pursue after PC. I have been able to reflect on the things I am most passionate about, what inspires me, what drives me, and how can I continue to strengthen my interpersonal skills. I am interested in working in the government sector. Through this program, I have had the distinct pleasure of connecting with a multitude of speakers who work in the non-profit and government sector. Many of these connections embody a strong sense of connectedness and are always willing to lend a helping hand. Having these connections has been highly beneficial. They have helped me become more aware of different opportunities that both further develop my skills and correspond with my interests. I am eternally grateful for the guidance these connections have given me.

Is there a specific interaction during the program you would like to highlight?

During sessions, I am given the opportunity to ask speakers insightful questions. Once, I asked a speaker of color who holds an illustrious position in a field that I am interested in; “What advice can you give to someone who aspires to go into a similar field?” The speaker told me, “Always remain humble and never be discouraged. Certain situations we deal with because of our ethnicity builds character and helps us become more motivated and determined compared to our peers. Never let society make you feel that you are at a disadvantage.” Additionally, this individual gave me a metaphor on life and said, “When you get on an elevator and reach the top floor, always make sure to bring down the elevator so another person is able to get on.” It is important to keep this metaphor in mind because it resonates with me. As a first-generation college student, you are always paving a pathway not only for your family members, but also for any other members of your community. Paving the pathway for the next generation is valuable and helps to empower others to do the same. Being able to create a pathway and becoming a role model is essential.

Would you recommend this program to other students and why?

I would definitely recommend this program because the experience is invaluable. This has been a learning experience that I cannot put into words. The conversations I have had about social change and what leadership means to various individuals have been fascinating. Anybody that is driven and inspired by social change should consider applying to this program. CLRI is a learning experience that you would not have in a classroom. Since this is a year-long program, every day I learn something different. For me, it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience because the connections I have made are the most meaningful. The program has inspired me to look for different avenues that will further hone my leadership skills.

Current PC students and recent alumni (ages 18-26) who are eligible are welcome to apply here for the 2021-22 CLRI class.

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