It is important to make a positive impact on people. In life and especially during times of need, it is also important that people use their leadership skills to inspire a new generation in achieving their goals. Students such as Naomi Guerrero have continued to lead as a positive example to the community while working remotely as part of the Jumpstart program at Kean.
Guerrero is a senior majoring in English and has been apart of Jumpstart for four years. Jumpstart is a national early childhood education organization that recruits and trains college students to assist with pre-schools in low-income neighborhoods. Guerrero joined Jumpstart to be able to give back to the communities who do not have enough resources for education. She has been able to balance three jobs as well as two internships all while doing her duties for Jumpstart in her four years of being part of the program.
"Growing up, I didn't really have the right tools or mentors to support me. That is the main reason I joined Jumpstart. Growing up now and being able to support my community is really amazing," said Guerrero. "I want to empower kids to become future leaders of their own going against stereotypes of not being able to make it in life."
Guerrero says joining Jumpstart has been an amazing experience because she is able to grow her professional network as well as gain experience working with kids to help fuel her passion for writing children's books as part of her goals after college. She switched her major a few times to find out she loved working with children but wanted to do more instead of sitting in a classroom all day. Guerrero noticed there was a lack of representation in children's books and wanted to be a part of a new generation for change in the evolving culture.
"I ended up making my minor my major after switching from being an early childhood education major. I want to be an author and write my own children's books. I feel like there is not enough representation especially with Latinas and I want to be a part of the change so kids can have a role model they can look up to," said Guerrero. "I also want to be a part of campaigns to assist with health and other important issues in the community and if I write and pour out what I think and what I see, then people will be able to gravitate toward that to grow from what was to the future."
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many services around the world, that has not stopped Guerrero from making an impact while doing Jumpstart. She explained that even though Jumpstart has been operating remotely, she misses the in-person interaction with her students because it is not the same as talking through a computer screen.
"We are restricted to just sending videos of us either reading a chapter of a book or a lesson plan to submit to the schools. It is not the same interaction as before. This year I am the volunteer coordinator for Jumpstart so I have been scheduling virtual events for students to get on a virtual call so we can do little activities with them just for social interaction. Overall, virtual anything is not that appealing. People do not have the same energy as they would have in person," said Guerrero. "In Jumpstart, we need to be on the right level with each other because not everybody is comfortable with being on-camera just talking or recording themselves which may add an extra layer of self-consciousness."
Even though things have not been the way they were supposed to be this year, Guerrero says we must all come together to get through this one day at a time so by the time the pandemic ends, we will be an even more, evolved society for the better. Guerrero's advice for Kean students who wish to get more involved is to use their resources such as Cougar Link and their networking skills in order to realize their true passions as well as find new motivations that push them to be better versions of themselves.
"Always use resources such as Cougar Link and make friends in classes you go to," said Guerrero, "It may be hard at first but it is always important to make those network connections because you may never know how helpful it will be for your college career and beyond. I get mass emails all the time about events to go to so there is always something to do. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone and it will help you push through most of life's struggles and you will have a more positive outlook."
Guerrero strives to build a lifelong legacy to inspire others and encourages other students to do the same with finding their passions.