BOOST is turning 15! We will be highlighting our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, Leadership Team members, and Partners weekly through the end of the year to say ‘thanks’ to our outstanding team members for their contributions to the in and out-of-school time community.
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 accomplishments, career highlights, and a few fun things about their lives.
Learn all about our amazing BOOST Partner, Carlota Merino
Carlota is an Assistant Director at arc in Los Angeles, CA.
How did you enter the OST, expanded learning, and/or educational field?
I started off as an academic coach when I was 17 with an after school program in San Jose, CA (Cal-SOAP). There I began my journey in the after school world that not knowing that it would become my passion in the future. When I transferred to Cal State Northridge, I continued working in after school. While working with foster youth and teen moms, that’s where I learn that my place is within after school and it became my responsibility to learn from our youth and provide resources. As time went by, I learned that Expanded Learning was my place to shine and empower others. This is the place where anyone can be who they want, and a safe place to venture off and learn about yourself and others.
What motivates you to do this work?
My biggest motivation factor is my family. My parents inspire me to be the best version of myself and to push forward with all my challenges to achieve success. My nephews are my two pillars who empower me to grow and learn every single day. I want to be able to have my nephews look up to me as a role model and empower them to pursue higher education and a career of their choosing. My brother motivates me to be my best and gives me challenges to build up my strengths. Lastly, my support group/family I have created in LA. They push me through my challenges and are always available to listen to and support. They help me problem-solve and help me cultivate my creativity. I am grateful to have a strong support system that allows me to break through boundaries.
What are you currently reading or watching?
I am currently catching up to all Marvel and Star Wars shows on Disney plus and Games of Thrones: House of the Dragon.
Share some of your greatest accomplishments.
My greatest accomplishment is discovering my true passion in education while attending Cal State Northridge. Graduating from college was a challenge and overall rewarding. Navigating through college as first generation and from immigrant parents was an achievement. To be able to break boundaries and push forward when all systems around you would try to break me down. On graduation day, receiving a call from my Father stating that he was proud of me, ensured me that I am off on the right track. I knew then that I would like to be able to help others achieve this success.
Now, with the support from my managers and team at arc, I have the ability to coach staff and mold leaders to be able to provide an equitable and safe program for all youth and families.
What are some big goals you are working toward?
My greatest accomplishment is discovering my true passion in education while attending Cal State Northridge. Graduating from college was a challenge and overall rewarding. Navigating through college as first generation and from immigrant parents was an achievement. To be able to break boundaries and push forward when all systems around you would try to break me down. On graduation day, receiving a call from my Father stating that he was proud of me, ensured me that I am off on the right track. I knew then that I would like to be able to help others achieve this success. Now, with the support from my managers and team at arc, I have the ability to coach staff and mold leaders to be able to provide an equitable and safe program for all youth and families.
What are your top three leadership qualities?
Community building, open-minded, and dependable
Name a leader that you admire and why?
To my great-grandmother, Carlota, my grandmother, Christina, and my mother Evangelina, have all had a huge impact in my life. All of these women have faced and endured many many challenges and never did they back down. My great-grandmother’s wisdom and creativity live within my heart. My grandmother taught me how to love and care. And to my mother, who is resilient and powerful, she is my rock and foundation. All of these women have a special place in my heart and mind. Through their life experiences, I have been able to learn and through their teaching, I have been able to discover my life’s purpose and mission.
Share an inspirational quote that resonates with you.
“Faith is my sword. Truth is my shield. Knowledge my armor.”
~Stephen Strange, Doctor. Strange
As a child, what were your career aspirations?
As a child, I wanted to be a doctor.
What causes are you passionate about?
Immigration, Civil Rights, Gender Equality, Healthcare Reform, Human Rights, Child Labor, BLM, Education, Mental Health, and Discrimination.
What is one of the highlights of your career?
Professional Development: To be able to grow and feel invested by your organization and have the ability to provide that to others.
How do you show kindness to others and/or share ways others have shown kindness to you?
I show kindness through action. I like to get to know the person to learn their love language and be able to learn on how to support them through their professional growth.
What career legacy do you want to leave?
To be able to share my knowledge and experiences where others can use them as a foundation to be able to mentor others. To create a safe place for everyone to discover their hidden talents and to be able to leave systems in place that are equitable and support the organization’s mission statement.
What’s the biggest mistake you made on the job and what did you learn from it?
Not asking for help is my biggest flaw. Growing up, I learned how to be independent, strong, and to always problem-solve. Through the years, I have learned that it is okay to ask for help. Being vulnerable and open to seeking others for support allows creativity and innovation from within. Never be afraid to ask for help!
Tell us what you had for breakfast!
Usually, for breakfast, I only have coffee. However, I love to have cereal for dinner.
Thank you, Carlota, for being a wonderful BOOST Partner and for sharing your leadership with the field!