Alumni Spotlight: A Conversation with Cristi Rader

Cristi Rader is the newest member of the Corvias Foundation Board of Directors, the first scholarship alum to be appointed to the board. When we recently sat down with Cristi, she talked about networking with her Corvias Foundation family, how inspiring it is to hear fellow alumni share their goals and aspirations, and how she hopes to mentor and connect with current scholars.

Cristi Capture

How has Corvias Foundation’s commitment to reaching higher been influential to your growth as a person? 

It has encouraged me to be open-minded to the possibilities and reach higher in all that I do! From furthering my education, to giving back projects, building more connections, and wanting more for myself and others. I am not restricted to one goal or one achievement, the opportunities to reach higher are limitless.

What did getting a scholarship mean to you? 

It changed the trajectory of my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but it truly did. I had the opportunity to be a part of an organization that provided a support network of military children that I could relate to. Corvias Foundation understood the college transition of a military child and provided resume building and internship opportunities while in school. After college they went above and beyond the dollar to connect with me and all alumni by bringing us together. Because of Corvias Foundation, I have found my passionate pursuit to give back to those that I share a unique and inspiring connection with.

What motivates you to give back?  How important is it?

I feel I should lead with my heart in all that I do. My motivation is derived from witnessing the Corvias Foundation network give abundantly.  Scholars, alumni, mentors, employees, friends, and family they have remarkable stories of giving. I am motivated by all of the stories and projects across the country because I genuinely believe they are all leading with their hearts. As I am watching and witnessing others give back, I have a daughter watching me. Listening, learning, and doing for others is the example I want to set. She is the reason it is important to me to give back and make an impact in our community together.

You spoke of the excellence of the Corvias scholars, can you give some specific examples of that?  

John Picerne and I spoke about the difference between my 2007 incoming freshman cohort and the current incoming freshman scholars. They raise the bar every year. Reviewing applications I found myself surprised, now they literally bring me to tears. Their stories, competitive edge, and desire to learn is inspiring. I always look forward to meeting the new scholars in Boston and putting a face, personality, and energy with the name from the application, it just makes me smile with pride.

The alumni are the heroes around me. Out in their communities giving back and making a difference. Kaitlynn, is making a difference every day in her students’ lives as a teacher. On her limited off time, she is reaching higher and putting herself through school. She just graduated with her masters and is applying to a doctorate program by the end of this year. Completely changing her field of choice, which some may say is risky, I call it brave and ambitious. Paul, Kris, and Kaylan started their own businesses because they are driven individuals and had the courage to do what makes them happy. Kris offers a yoga program to honor Veterans and support joined forces. Brittany is literally reaching for the stars. She has dreamed of going to space since she was little. We have several alumni taking tremendous initiative in their professional medical fields. They are true trail blazers! These are a few examples of the examples of the nearly 100 alumni that are achieving excellence. We have a diverse group of subject matter experts in our alumni network and I am proud of all of them! They are all empowered, connected, and capable humans that inspire others.

As a new member of the Foundation board, what are you most excited about?   

I am excited to hear and learn from existing Board members. Learning what is important to them as individuals and creating new innovative programs for scholars and alumni. I am excited to serve and support the exponential growth of Corvias Foundation.

Scholar Spotlight: Marilyn Picazo

Collage_Picazo.jpgMarilyn is a sophomore at the University of Kansas where she is studying Pre-Nursing. She recently shared some thoughts with us about Hispanic Heritage Month and what it means to her.

Can you share why you believe it’s important to take the time to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans?

Contributions by Hispanic Americans (and others, as well) tend to get overlooked. Even though this doesn’t get overlooked on purpose it does cause a sense of despair in individuals. To them, including myself, it seems as if what we do doesn’t have much impact or importance. Of course, this is completely untrue. So, taking time to recognize the contributions leads these same people to continue to contribute. Not only that, but it also inspires and helps others make their own contributions.

Is there a family/community tradition or cultural practice that is especially meaningful to you? Please describe.

One of the most special traditions my family has, is a celebration for the new year. It’s usually the one time in the year when my whole family (which is more than 50 people) gets together. For the celebration, everyone has the task of preparing their own signature plate. We start celebrating as soon as the sun rises. Usually, there will be loud music playing in the background and everyone has food at all times while interacting with one another. What makes it special to me is how my Hispanic side just bursts out of me. During the celebration you will see me cooking up traditional Mexican food and singing along to some good mariachi songs.

Now that you are in college, how does it feel to be living away from your family? How often do you communicate with them? What does it mean to have their support?

Living away from my family was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I’m a very family-oriented person, which I’m sure many students are. Being away from my family made me feel left out and like I would be slowly forgotten about. Of course, that would never happen, but I made sure to take the initiative and call them every night. Sometimes, I would call them and there wouldn’t be anything to talk about but the encouraging words from my family saying I could do anything I set my mind to, never failed. Having their support is what keeps me working hard and never giving up even when it feels like I have no other option. Their support is so important to me and I would definitely not be where I am now without it.

We’d love your pro tips. What advice do you have for all high school students that want to go to the next level? How did you find the new friends and community you have made in college?

Transitioning from high school to college is a really drastic change. Many times, we start this next chapter in our lives thinking we need to be perfect. By perfect I mean, getting great grades and always getting everything done. Although this can be a good mindset to have it is important to realize that we can’t always be like that. Make sure to take breaks and just get your mind off of school for a while. Don’t overwork yourself because sometimes than can do more bad than good. Also, manage your time well and that way you will minimize your stress and never hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.

Celebrating Ten Years of Giving Back

Foundation_10Year_FAAs we move toward April, things are buzzing at the Foundation office! Along with the usual happenings, we are preparing to kick off some new opportunities for folks to give back and share the good.

Show of hands out there in the blogosphere – do you remember when you got the call saying you were selected as a Foundation scholarship recipient?! One of our annual highlights is making those phone calls and hearing the stunned silence, shouts of excitement, and tears of joy on the other end of the line. We are in the thick of application review right now and will be meeting with John Picerne and the board in mid-April to make final selections. Several alumni are participating in the process by reviewing semi-finalist applications. Thank you – we love having you involved and value your perspective and insight.

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