BOOST is turning 15! As we approach our 15-year anniversary, we are reminded of how much we value and appreciate our TEAMBOOST partners and want to share their stories – their journeys through the in and out-of-school time field, their goals and aspirations, a few fun things about them, and some of the amazing things they are doing in their communities.
We will be spotlighting our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, Leadership Team members, and Partners weekly through the end of November to thank our wonderful team members for their contributions to our incredible community!
Get to Know Ambassador Susie Estrada
Susie Estrada is a Program Delivery Specialist at Camp Fire National in Salt Lake City, UT, and has been a BOOST Ambassador since 2022!
How did you enter the OST, expanded learning, and/or educational field?
I came into the OST field when I was seventeen very much being the young person that I advocate for today! I had graduated from high school and didn’t have anything to do for the Summer. Not wanting to be home, my friend said that she knew of a volunteer opportunity at an overnight camp with the Fred Jordan Mission and I went. I loved it and that is when I decided to declare my major in school with Child and Adolescent Development because I knew that work with young people was what I wanted to continue doing.
What motivates you to do this work?
I think that as I get older, the more clear my response to this question becomes. I love what I do and I am so passionate about it. I love seeing the growth and impact these programs have and witnessing it. But if I am being honest, I think that what motivates me to do this work is everyone back home. I grew up in North Hollywood, CA and I have so many people that I knew and grew up with, all of us have had so many different experiences and different life outcomes. I am so proud of everyone back home regardless of what that outcome was. I grieve for the people that are already gone, I’m only 31, and I reflect on those that are still here. So many people are a million times more talented and intelligent than I am if I am being honest! But I think about them, about us, as young people and I think about what and who they needed. I think about what they deserve and that is what motivates me to do this work.
What are you currently reading or watching?
Currently, I am reading Bettina Love’s “We Want to do More Than Survive”. We are watching West World on HBO Max right now.
Share some of your greatest accomplishments.
Personally, as funny as it sounds I think surviving. I struggle with PTSD and have dealt with some really difficult things. I have a picture of myself as a small child, maybe 5 or younger, and I know what was going on then. I am proud of her for surviving long enough to at least get started on my doctoral journey.
What are some big goals you are working toward?
I want to complete my doctoral program. It is my first year and as I write this during week 4 of school I just hope I make it.
What are your top three leadership qualities?
I am hoping that I am a quick problem solver, a critical thinker, and a person with a high level of empathy (maybe too high at times).
Name a leader that you admire and why?
A leader that I admire I think would have to be Selena Quintanilla. I teach a course at our local community college and our text is Selenidad” which discusses the performance of memory. This book does a crosswalk between history and Selena is a beautiful way. The reason I pick Selena is because of what she represented to many. She was a leader, innovative and breaking down barriers others had not. She did this while remaining humble and authentic. The capacity and ability to do both is something that is admirable and I aspire to.
Share an inspirational quote that resonates with you.
“If Peter were able to (transform) be free even with the shackles, then that would be the miracle.”- Edward Valandra at the Heal Like Honey 2022 Conference
As a child, what were your career aspirations?
What causes are you passionate about?
Animal/environmental rights and rights of children
What is one of the highlights of your career?
Starting and running a successful program before transitioning into my current role. I was hired on literally one week before the school year was set to start! But I loved every second of it.
How do you show kindness to others and/or share ways others have shown kindness to you?
I am a gift giver! We did not necessarily show a lot of affection growing up verbally or even physically so I think the way I communicate care is through gift giving.
What career legacy do you want to leave?
I am hoping that my legacy will be in the people I have mentored and the youth I have worked with. I just hope that I have done good and have instilled something in them that helps them do good as well.
What’s the biggest mistake you made on the job and what did you learn from it?
I actually think about this often. There was one staff member who could not return to the start of the year or at least give me a set answer on their availability. I chose an authoritarian route because honestly, I felt pressure to be a boss, to be a professional, and whether that was real or imagined pressure doesn’t matter. I feel like I let them down by trying to hold a line. It was a loss professionally and personally. I lost the human component and I am ashamed of what that says about me at least in that moment. I learned that the perception others have of me matters much less than the things that I can cope with. This was at least two years ago and I still think about it. People first. Always.
Tell us what you had for breakfast!
McDonald’s Hot Cakes (my weakness)
From all of us here at TEAMBOOST, thank you, Susie, for being part of our Ambassador team and for sharing your leadership with us!