“I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it’s going to get done.”

Determination and resilience fueled Destiny Saldivar when she was completing a master’s degree from the Columbia School of Social Work while also expecting her first child. After graduating from SUNY New Paltz in three years, Saldivar immediately enrolled in the Master of Social Work program at Columbia because of its intensive fieldwork component. The same program component that appealed to Saldivar ended up being one of her greatest challenges. Due to a high-risk pregnancy, Saldivar had to complete the fieldwork hours expected by the program on a different timeline. In that moment, she learned the importance of self-advocacy. Advocating for herself allowed Saldivar to receive the support she needed, which included a different fieldwork schedule and attending class via Skype on some days. Her advice to young moms: “speak up for yourself and keep your eyes on the prize.” For Saldivar, the prize is being a role model for her young daughter.

Saldivar is passionate about increasing college access for students from underserved communities. She pursues this passion every day as the Assistant Director of Talent Search at Columbia’s Double Discovery Center where she works to design college readiness curriculum and programming for students in Uptown Manhattan. The Essential Skill of goal setting keeps Saldivar motivated professionally. “It allows me to continuously beat myself and compete with the person I was yesterday,” she says.

Saldivar urges young professionals to network and define their own leadership style – two Essential Skills that don’t come naturally because of her introverted personality. Despite that, Destiny takes steps every day to “build an arsenal of people” and “lead through passion.” She suggests starting off with small goals and slowly branching out. “There’s this misconception that you can do it by yourself, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Saldivar.

The National Advisory Board is a network of professionals who help CFES Brilliant Pathways alumni by offering professional support. Alumni can reach Destiny at Destiny.D.Saldivar@gmail.com or in the CFES Alumni LinkedIn group.