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Marisa Urrutia Gedney | Director of Education, 826LA
An eight-year veteran of the 826 education network, which was co-founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari, Gedney develops programs for Los Angeles students ages 6 to 18 to develop writing skills and for teachers to learn how to better inspire their students to write. The national program, which serves over 31,000 students each year, has programs in eight cities. She has been featured on FORBES 30 under 30: Education for her outstanding working ethics.
On Inspiring Others | I spend most of my energy and time at my job, but have realized that to be completely fulfilled and healthy, I need to recognize my other passion and calling as a writer. I write every day to stay myself. The joy I get from exploring new beautiful places in nature centers me and I have to remember moments of exploration and excitement are not meant only for vacation, but need to be incorporated into my free time whenever possible.
I Am Driven By | I am driven by the hard work and struggle that generations of my family have endured. I often say I have the luxuries of a 3rd generation Mexican-American and with those privileges I dedicate my career to supporting youth in under-resourced neighborhoods.
The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are great at what they do aren’t afraid to show they care. In the field of education especially, it is necessary that students, parents, and other educators know that you are passionate and will do anything it takes to give the best service. I believe the greatest educators show their heart.
A Key Talent | One strength of mine is asking for help. When I have felt stuck or unsure of what to do next in my life, in my career, in my journey as a poet, I ask for help from those I trust and others who have already learned from similar moments of transition. I realize I am not in this alone and I cannot succeed without the advice and love of others. I gather tools and resources that have proven helpful like meditation, therapy, a range of books and inspiring authors, and remember to use them as often as I need to help me stay strong and focused.
Lessons I Have Learnt | I have learned that until one makes a decision, the rest of one’s life will not be clear to oneself or to anyone else. I work often with high school seniors who feel very scared of leaving for college and believing that their decision will be right. I tell them there is no right or wrong decision if they give each choice smart consideration and take action in the direction they feel most compelled to take. That path will lead them to the next great thing, and if not, they will find a way to get there.
Dealing With Doubt | At the age of 25 I was hit very suddenly with incredible panic and anxiety and I developed a panic disorder. I felt a lot of things: sadness, loneliness, confusion, but the fear was the hardest to overcome because it had a strong grip that seemed it would never let go. I thought my life as I knew it before was over, and I would have to live with this anguish forever and have to learn how to navigate my life while constantly feeling afraid of everything. Because I had to try to overcome it before I resigned to it, I learned everything I could about anxiety and panic. I saw a therapist weekly and worked diligently on cognitive behavioral exercise to retrain my brain to believe the fear was not real. I learned about acupuncture and meditation and added new things to my toolbox. Instead of hiding from the fear, I faced it.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I would like to see how else I can make a big impact on the future of education. I would like to continue helping students write their college essays so that admission officers see how incredible they are. I dream of being part of a system that gives every child the support and resources they deserve. I dream that one day the teaching profession in the Unites States will be recognized in the way it deserves. If I can be part of what creates that system, I would feel successful.
Performing At My Peak | I ask others for feedback on my performance both as an employee and as a manager. I ask students I work with if our session was helpful. I ask teachers what I can do better next time to ensure even more success of a project.
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