The following essay was written by Ilianna Delgado, a finalist for the 2018 SuretyBonds.com Small Business Scholarship.
A Passion for GEMS
I never knew I had a passion for business until I created my own small business to help young girls feel confident and empowered. This small business venture has flourished and has shaped me into the person I am today. My values, my understanding of human nature, my academic goals, and my career goals have all been influenced by the success of my business, Girls Empowered and Motivated for Success (GEMS).
In my sophomore year of high school I realized I lived in a county that had the dubious distinction of having one of the lowest levels of education, highest unemployment rates, and highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. I felt compelled to do something to help the girls in my community, so I came up with a plan to teach a girls’ self-esteem group at my local middle school. I presented my idea to the principal and school psychologist, and my idea became a reality. I spent the following summer writing my curriculum and planning the structure and goals of my group.
The beginning of my junior year, I started my group called GEMS (Girls Empowered and Motivated for Success). I am proud to be the founder and president of this group. I met with girls who are at high risk to teach them how to feel confident and empowered, and how to set goals and make good decisions. This activism is important to me because I desire to help young girls in my community to value themselves and make choices that will lead to success. This has been particularly exciting to me because my work has been recognized by other schools in my community. I have met with teachers and student leaders to help them implement a GEMS program at both the middle school and high school levels. I am thrilled to know that I am making a difference in expanding my GEMS program to reach more young girls in my community. This interest from others into the work I was doing through GEMS gave me the impetus to continue to grow and expand my small business.
My passion for leading social change continues in my Freshman year at UC Berkeley where I currently work as a Program Assistant Intern in the Gender Equity Resource Center. I develop and implement events to bring education, awareness, and an appreciation of the unique challenges facing women and the LGBTQ+ community. I greatly enjoy participating in events designed to advocate for women’s rights and equality. This job is extremely rewarding as it fits perfectly with my desire to honor women and to celebrate the beauty of diversity. I am also a member of the UC Berkeley Economics Association where I have the opportunity to participate in small business seminars and competitions.
My career goal is to use my Bachelor’s Degree in Business/Marketing to continue to expand my GEMS program throughout the United States. I plan to use the knowledge and skills I am learning at UC Berkeley to grow my business. I hope to market my program to all states so that young women throughout our country will have the opportunity to become empowered and confident to achieve their own personal, academic and career goals.
Throughout my life, I have dedicated a significant amount of time working toward social change because I believe it is important to give my time and talents in order to help other people. Regardless of differences in race, religion, or political views, we as humans are more alike than different. We need to celebrate our differences and work together toward creating greater unity and showing unconditional love and acceptance. As a result of my service, I have grown in my own ability to be compassionate toward others. I have benefited by creating meaningful relationships with people who are wonderfully different from me. I hope I am considered for this scholarship as this would allow me to further my education and to continue to find new opportunities get involved in creating positive change by expanding my GEMS business. Being of service to others gives my life deeper meaning and makes me feel like, at least in some small way, I am helping to help make my community and the world around me a better place.
Ilianna will continue attending the University of California – Berkeley in the fall, pursuing a degree in business with an emphasis in marketing.