Chicago Network’s Future Leaders Program: The SXU Student Perspective 2017

Twelve Saint Xavier University (SXU) students were elected to partake in the Chicago Network’s (TCN) Future Leaders Program on Monday, May 8 and Tuesday, May 9.

SXU, Dominican University and University of Illinois-Chicago all partnered with TCN, a group of senior women business leaders, who shared various career experiences with 36 young women. SXU students had the opportunity to visit Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), and the Hyatt Corporation.

The SXU students who participated in the program are: Jill Augustine; Lisette Carrera; Maribeth Hampton; Alexis Harrison; Courtney Joyce; Carleigh Kemp; Diana Magana; Molly Rademacher; Aleta Riley-Tellis; Jillian Siemiawski; Kailey Tassone; and Deana Watson.

Students who attend the Future Leaders Program are given the opportunity not only to visit the host companies, but also to partake in an interactive schedule, which include learning about the industry, touring the space and reviewing the necessary qualifications of that career. The program is meant to empower women in becoming leaders.

Lisette Carrera, a rising junior natural science major, offered SXU a glimpse into her experience with the Future Leaders Program.

“I felt empowered,” said Carrera. “The majority of these women started in the same shoes I’m in right now. They were first generation, low or middle class, women, and underrepresented minorities. They all had a time where they had to face their own struggles, but the way they grew from them really captivated me.”

Going into the program, Carrera was most eager to meet the women from TCN and learn about their journeys. During the orientation on Tuesday, April 25, students interacted with the women in one-on-one discussions. Students could also ask TCN members questions and trade contact information.

When the SXU students visited Heartland Alliance, they had the chance to meet and speak to Evelyn Diaz, president of the company. Diaz shared her story with the students and taught them the history of the company. The students then got to observe Harvest Commons, an affordable housing development run by Heartland Alliance. They also had the pleasure of viewing a presentation form NIJC entitled, “Know Your Rights.” To end out the first day, they met with Mary Meg McCarthy, executive director of Heartland Alliance.

For the second day of the program, SXU students were guests at the Hyatt Corporation. Rena Reiss, general counsel and secretary, and Maryann Banikarim, executive vice president and global chief marketing officer, shared their stories and presented the purpose and brand overview. After each session, there was time for a Q&A. When McCarthy was asked to share advice with the students, she encouraged them to embrace chaos, and acknowledge their challenges and setbacks.

Reflecting on her experience in the Future Leaders Program, Carrera made it clear that it was an important experience for her. She believes they are a great example of what hard work and leadership looks like on an executive level.

“I would be honored to be a part of an organization like the Chicago Network,” said Carrera. “They are truly empowering the future generation of women leaders and exposing them to the endless career opportunities.”

Another SXU student, Deana Watson, was interviewed by CBS 2 Chicago on her experience. For more information on the Future Leaders Program, visit the Chicago Network’s website.