Many people experienced dramatic life changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nuria A. Diallo Padro, of the Our Lady of the Lake University chapter, was no exception. She moved across the country in pursuit of her purpose and new opportunities to serve others.
“The pandemic has been a collective trauma for all of us, which also reaffirmed my strengths as a strategic servant leader. To know that I was supporting, empowering, and advocating for vulnerable populations and low-income communities, who were disproportionately affected during these times, has been an honor and a privilege.”
Nuria chose to pursue her master’s in social work at OLLU. She became President of her chapter at a time when it was struggling to engage and grow its membership, evolving it to be more active.
“In May, I graduated with my master's in social work, which was extra special for me, as it honored my Abuela Rosa's legacy as an esteemed social worker in Puerto Rico.”
Nuria also received the 2021 National Make a Difference Award, a Governor's Volunteer Award, in recognition of her commitment to service and leadership.
Implementing Natural Leadership Strengths
Many students and graduates recognize the need to develop leadership skills in their personal and professional lives. Leadership strengths can help you distinguish yourself at school and work, conquer new challenges, and grow in every facet of life.
As part of her efforts to develop her leadership skills, Nuria explored the CliftonStrengths paradigm and discovered her five core strengths. She sought out ways to implement and rely on those strengths in her career as well as President of her NSLS chapter.
“I needed to apply my five strengths through a hybrid of business acumen, leadership skills, and trauma-informed care. Through these skills, I was able to care for and empower individuals, organizations, and communities to develop meaningful outcomes at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.”
Nuria’s participation in the NSLS as a chapter leader has helped her hone those skills. One key aspect of her NSLS experience is particularly meaningful to Nuria: the support and encouragement that comes from a team that’s united behind a common goal and purpose.
"You have to build a team that empowers you and holds you accountable to your goals.”
A Commitment to Service Begins at Home
Social work is all about helping others. That commitment is often fostered at a young age and service-oriented leadership is often the result. Nuria’s commitment to serving others is at the core of her professional goals and educational choices.
“There are many leaders who I admire. Yet, the one I hold as my ‘true north’ is my grandmother, Rosa Monge vda de Padro, who modeled and instilled the ethical standards that guide my leadership style and commitment to my community and public service.”
The example set by her grandmother continues to help shape and guide Nuria’s work. She’s also living our mission of building leaders who make a better world, making a positive impact in the lives of others.
“Leadership is the duty to apply your strengths for the good of the team, community, or organization while recognizing that it’s a privilege to lead and a greater calling to be of service. A leader should always invest in their people and empower them to become great leaders.”
Nuria’s Advice for Future Leaders
Not surprisingly, Nuria’s advice is centered around the importance of purpose. That sense of a personal mission helps you power through challenges and pushback. Moving forward with confidence in your training and strengths, and being fueled by that mission can help you achieve even the toughest goals.
“Embrace your purpose. Never lose sight of your purpose and the people.”
Nuria also suggests getting creative when it comes to finding ways to conquer obstacles. In many cases, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar setting, you may struggle to identify opportunities to develop new contacts and build a supportive network.
"I had to be strategic, yet open to the opportunities that awaited me. When I first moved to San Antonio, I was unable to network in person due to the pandemic; therefore, I started the #100intros social media campaign on LinkedIn to grow my professional network. I have since met several of my 100 intros and participated in several opportunities.”
Finally, Nuria recommends seeking input and advice from a variety of individuals when you’re faced with making a choice that impacts your career. The diverse viewpoints offered by others helped her choose the best internship opportunity.
“In spite of my experience, I consulted faculty, staff, and local San Antonians on where to intern and best serve my community. It was through their insights and guidance that I was able to thrive exponentially in such a short time."
Nuria’s story demonstrates the power of purpose and leading from a place of compassion. Learn five more strategies for becoming a strong leader.