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Meet TEAMBOOST Member Jess Barajas – BOOST Sweet 15

Meet TEAMBOOST Member Jess Barajas – BOOST Sweet 15

BOOST is turning 15! We will be highlighting our BOOST Bloggers, Ambassadors, Leadership Team members, and Partners weekly through the end of November 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 TEAMBOOST member, Jess Barajas

Jess is the Program Director here at BOOST Collaborative in San Diego, CA. She started with our BOOST Leadership Team in 2020 and has been with TEAMBOOST since 2022!

How did you enter the OST, expanded learning, and/or educational field?

My cousin was in Color Guard and I would go with her to practice, I couldn’t wait to be old enough to be a part of it. When I was old enough and ended up going to the same Jr High, I practiced my butt off to make the Color Guard Team, later on gaining leadership and performance skills to lead the entire Band and Color Guard as the Drum Major my freshman year. I was able to come back, when I was a High School student and train the next generation of individuals at that Jr. High. I went on to coach my own first color guard team during my Senior Year.

What motivates you to do this work?

I’ve always been in the mindset to help others, especially those who aren’t receiving the support they should be. I got that support when I was in need and it’s only right to pass that mindset along to the next person and generation. I had pretty awesome mentors who literally supported me during my youth. They saw something in me and I hope I’ve continued to make them proud.

What are you currently reading or watching?

I just started the new season of Cobra Kai! But I’m also following Big Brother:)

Share some of your greatest accomplishments.

My personal and professional accomplishments have to be earning my degrees. My mother grew up in a time when women really weren’t allowed to do anything other than cook, clean, and take care of children, and receiving an education wasn’t an option for her. It’s important for me to show the next generation that they shouldn’t feel like they are in a box. They can accomplish everything they set their mind and actions to. Don’t let others dictate what your goals are.

What are some big goals you are working toward?

Definitely completing my MBA this school year. I took a four-year break but made that commitment to myself when I started this program. I try to be a woman of my word, so I’m back to finish!

I’m also working on becoming a better speaker. I enjoy speaking to people and connecting, however, I know that I can do a better job of communicating my messages.

What are your top three leadership qualities?

Courage is one of them. I’ve faced quite a few uncomfortable situations, but I knew I had to face them head-on because I had a team behind me.

Vision and the ability to paint that picture for others to be a part of this movement. But also, the ability to share that vision with others and adjust as needed within the community.

Empowerment. I think it’s important to help and guide folks down a positive route, but also to allow them to make that journey on their own. They will learn the most when they take that step on their own.

Name a leader that you admire and why?

My mom, was the first leader I got to know:) She has taught me to be patient, and understanding and to pray for folks that are going through it or need it. She is a supportive person and wants all to succeed, and will be there in any capacity. She has always been there for folks. Especially for youth. She has raised so many children and she does it because young people need a positive example in their lives. She’s a tough lady! Don’t stray away from class because Miss Marisela will find you and you will hear her out!

Share an inspirational quote that resonates with you.

“You live, you learn,” Alanis Morissette. It’s such a simple statement. If you really take the time to think about it, you will take more time to evaluate your next moves, or at least I have.

As a child, what were your career aspirations?

I wanted to become a teacher when I was in 2nd grade. I just remember the smell and welcoming feeling in that classroom. She was such a supportive and inclusive teacher. I just wanted to be like her! I had really great teachers throughout all of my elementary years though, I was very lucky.

What causes are you passionate about?

I really am supportive of all women’s rights. The right to education, the right to equal pay, the right to body autonomy, etc. I can remember growing up, being told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. When someone tells me I can’t do something, I prove them wrong and do it ten times better than they wouldn’t have expected.

What is one of the highlights of your career?

I grew up in Southeast San Diego and had limited resources growing up. Our family would go to the local youth center for bread distribution. One of the highlights of my career was going back to that same youth center and becoming the Branch Manager. It showed the kids in the community that they too can make positive changes in themselves and their community.

How do you show kindness to others and/or share ways others have shown kindness to you?

I thank people constantly. Especially folks in the service industry. A thank you goes a long way.

When I’m talking to folks, I really do my best to be in the moment with them. Actively listening to what they have to say.

Saying hello and asking people how they are doing too! You might be the only person to ask them that, in that moment or who knows, in quite some time!

What career legacy do you want to leave?

Be kind, firm but fair, and don’t forget fun 🙂

What’s the biggest mistake you made on the job and what did you learn from it?

Hiring an internal candidate who wasn’t ready for the role. I was hopeful that they would be a great leader, but they needed a lot of self-discovery. I learned that the right candidate will present themselves and not rush through hiring.

Tell us what you had for breakfast!

Vegan sausage and honey biscuit with a vanilla latte 😉

Thank you, Jess, for being a part of the BOOST Leadership Team and now, a member of TEAMBOOST. We appreciate you and your leadership!

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BOOST Collaborative is a unique, purpose-driven organization committed to supporting those serving youth in the out-of-school time hours by providing quality professional development, opportunities for networking & partnerships, and leadership training. Together, we make a difference.

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