Marisela Arechiga, co-owner of New Generation Improvements, realized her passion to inspire students when she herself was inspired by a guest speaker during a middle school assembly. Here’s some insight into how YBA has allowed Marisela to share her zeal for public speaking and challenge students to think differently.
What sparked you to become a guest speaker with Youth Business Alliance?
I grew up in a small, migrant community with small schools. When I was in sixth grade at an all-school assembly, I remember a guy coming to give a motivational speech. Now I don’t remember exactly what he said, but he talked about his life experiences and how we could be whatever we wanted. His presentation made me feel differently, more inspired, and made me see things through a new lens. I immediately felt optimistic and excited, and while I didn’t know who he was, I believed that since he made me feel that way, he had to be an important and influential man. So much so that I actually chased down after him and asked for his autograph.
It was an experience that gave me a peek into my future. I felt like that’s something I want to do when I’m an adult – I want to speak with students who look like me and come from where I came from. And so when I was invited to become a guest speaker for YBA in 2017, I immediately accepted. I felt it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Tell us a story about something inspiring that happened during one of your YBA guest speaking experiences.
During my presentations, I often include an exercise that involves asking students to write down what success looks like to them and to list who in their life they believe is successful.
I recall during one presentation, everyone was writing down their responses except for one girl. My first thought was that she was simply unengaged.
However, at the end of my presentation, this girl walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, Miss Marisela. I just wanted you to know that I didn’t write anything down because I don’t have a successful person in my life. But now that I’ve met you, I do.” That was a humbling and incredible feeling, one that I will never forget.
How do you feel you’re making a difference through your work with YBA?
While most people would rather be bitten by a shark than do public speaking, I truly enjoy it and believe it’s one of my gifts. I really love speaking to students, specifically high school students in underserved communities.
However, high school students are a tough group to engage. My goal is to simply offer a new perspective, a different way of thinking from someone who has likely had similar experiences to theirs. I believe that they can see themselves in me – coming from a humble background, being a Latina, first-generation Mexican American with immigrant parents.
I believe guest speaking is a gift. And I’m certain that I get more out of it sometimes than they do!
What’s next? How do you see your relationship with YBA developing in the coming years?
I’m super excited to be back in the classroom and want to speak as often as possible! And I know that students will be happy to have all guest speakers present. That’s what’s so incredible about YBA. It brings in different people from the business community and exposes students to different professions, different perspectives, and even different vernacular.
YBA reignited a flame that started in me when I was an 11-year-old girl. I feel like I’ve found my voice through guest speaking for YBA.