Monthly Archives: September 2010

“When Chance met Opportunity” with Linda Orlando ’07

Linda Orlando '07 addresses WILD women in the Casino Ballroom.

She is an impressive, lovely, and charismatic character. What else should be expected from a Georgian Court alumna? It is no surprise that such a wise woman would be asked to attend a WILD event and extend her words of wisdom to young aspiring women.

Linda Orlando started the conversation by expressing her appreciation and how impressed she was with the WILD women.

“At some point you are going to cross the stage and be on your own,” Orlando stated. Her straightforward nature was a most engaging way to begin. Ms. Orlando’s transparency was refreshing. She allowed the young women to see into her life from the beginning of her career journey, which actually began with her nonchalance about attending college. She shared that her parents forced her to attend. Ms. Orlando wanted to be a physical therapist first, then an accountant because, well… That’s where the money was. Reaching a point where she was ready to quit school, Orlando’s parents urged her to stick it out and complete her Bachelor’s degree at Pace University. She never imagined she would pursue her MBA but alas, after visiting the campus she fell in love with the spirit and core values of Georgian Court University and enrolled in the MBA program which she completed in 2007. Ms. Orlando is now the Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Keefe Bruyette and Woods, the largest full-service investment bank that specializes exclusively in the financial-services sector. She is also a Georgian Court University Board of Trustees member.

Linda Orlando covered three main areas that was very important to her:

  • How she fell into her current career
  • A review of leadership traits as a whole
  • Core work skills

Linda mentioned that at first she did not actively pursue her current career. Her life was full of spontaneous and whimsical decisions until she was offered a job with DoubleClick, Inc., a technology services company.

“Working at a ‘dot com’ I suddenly realized I wasn’t doing it for the money. I was doing it for the heart for it. My career happened like THAT. 28 years… It went by quickly although, day by day it dragged,” Orlando stated.

As she progressed in her field, Orlando’s main drive was to make sure that she was going to make money. She did not strive to be in a specific position. She wanted to have fun. She loved working and helping people, groups, companies but her top priority was securing a comfortable lifestyle for herself. One that would provide for her parents in their older age as she is an only child and prioritizes caring for her parents.

Ms. Orlando offers career advice to WILD V member, Kristen Vinci.

Linda also shared how to clearly define one’s goals in life. Starting out, her first goal was moving out of her parents house and finding her own apartment. “You have to extend yourself to do things that you might not be comfortable doing in order to get money.” she said. She emphasized the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone in order to climb the ladder of success as one defines success.

Ms. Orlando also outlined leadership traits that every WILD woman should embody:

  • Integrity, trust, and honesty
  • Accountability and supportive nature
  • Knowledge and passion (for the field in which one is working)
  • Well-grounded sense of self , sense-of-humor
  • Having a proven track record of SUCCESS

Linda Orlando stated how individuals should be prepared, constructive, and utilize criteria, statistics and information when speaking to others. As basic as it may seem to some, she stressed the importance of having common sense in various situations and putting everything into perspective.  For example, although a woman might be in a male-dominated field, if she makes her sex an obstacle, it is going to be an obstacle. Another example was that jobs will always look at Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook accounts and credit scores, so being careful with what is posted on the Internet about oneself and how you use your money is most important.

In closing, Ms. Orlando challenged the WILD women to, “Embrace the technology that you have.” She expressed how important it is to use all the different avenues of technology and even just word-of-mouth to network with friends, family, organizations and especially the Alumni Association at GCU.

Ms. Orlando shared this interesting video with WILD which gives all sorts of interesting statistics about social media’s rise over the years and how technology has changed and is still changing:

Social Media Revolution

(Left to right) Ashley Hobbs, Karissa Merkel, Linda Orlando '07, Shinade Ramirez, Azaria Valentin

Linda Orlando filled our minds with excitement and encouragement to continue on our leadership journeys. Our journey in life will challenge us and it will get hard but we should never give up. Grasping every opportunity given to us will provide us with many more learning experiences than simply reading books and sitting in classrooms ever will. We appreciate Linda Orlando and what she shared. She is DIFFERENT. She is OUTSPOKEN. She is REAL and those qualities in themselves are respectable.

“The world doesn’t change for you, you have to change for the world.”

-Linda Orlando-

Written by: Shinade Ramirez and Jennifer Valentin

WILD Women give their time to Habitat For Humanity

At quitting time we took a group shot after a long yet rewarding day.

One Saturday per month Raritan Valley’s chapter of Habitat For Humanity hosts their well-known Women Build Day at their Bridgewater work site. Six WILD members – Mercedes Contreras, Rebeccah McGettigan, Asiah Dent, Christina Federowski, Jeannesis Rodriguez, and Christine Sinisi and myself rose early to make the trek from Lakewood to Bridgewater at 7:00 AM this past Saturday. What we encountered was an amazing group of women ranging in age from 16 to late 50s, all of whom shared a direct and heartfelt passion for helping others. We learned how to apply aluminum siding and roofing to a house. We learned how to correctly measure wooden planks to complete the building of a shed. We learned how to install bamboo flooring. We learned how to caulk window ledges. And those experiences were great. We joked that we won’t need contractors to make home improvements when we each have our own homes. But there was something more that we each took away from the experience. We sat and spoke to some of the women for whom the houses were being built, listening to the sincere delight in their voices. One woman remembered the exact date, time and place she was when she got the fateful call from Habitat three years ago, telling her that she had been selected for a new home. They were mostly young women with children who are working to make a better life and simply needed a willing and helping hand to do so.

In all of the technical/construction learning that took place, we took away something much deeper. It truly is better to give than to receive. As educated women leaders we will never reach a point in our lives where our help is not needed. It is our duty. No matter how large or small our contribution to humanity we are better women and the world is a better place for it. The seven hours of labor we put in on Saturday day may have left us a bit sore or with an accidentally hammered finger or two (Mercedes), but more importantly it left us with sense of Purpose higher than ourselves.

Mercedes Contreras and Christine Sinisi apply wooden planks to a shed with the guidance of a Habitat For Humanity work site leader.

“…It really was an experience that I will never forget. I had so much fun. Doing something like this to help those families is very rewarding and that at the end of the hard working day you feel good about yourself and the cause you are (helping). Thank you so much for having us there and I can’t wait to go back.”

– Mercedes Contreras – WILD VI

“What I liked most about Women’s Build Day with Habitat for Humanity was being able to work, hands-on with projects I’ve never accomplished before, like cutting, drilling and screwing spindles onto a porch. It was definitely a new experience but well worth it. I loved having the honor of working with the women who were going to be receiving these homes, as well as having the privilege of knowing their heartwarming stories. I learned how important and effective it is to work together for a common goal and how proud one can be of themselves for putting in hard work. The feeling of working on and putting together a house that one day a family will live in is indescribable. This experience allows you to reach out to people in support and physical activity that I cannot wait to take part in again.

– Rebeccah McGettigan – WILD VII

“(We) are God’s hands extended to humanity, His feet driven with a Purpose, His heart with an insatiable need to give, His eyes to see the world and all it holds as it is, His forethought to use (our) gifts to leave this world as it should be… a little bit better.”

– Ashley Hobbs

More photographs of our amazing day with Habitat can be viewed in the Photo Gallery and the WILD Facebook page,

Leadership Tips From Ambassador Susan Burk

A few WILD members take a photograph with Ambassador Burk after her Fireside chat.

“A good mentor is a thing of beauty.” – Ambassador Susan Burke

On September 15, 2010  W.I.L.D women from groups VI and VII had the chance to sit down with Ambassador Susan Burk to discuss her career journey with the U.S government. Ambassador Burk is a successful woman who graduated from Trinity College in Washington D.C. with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s in Government from Georgetown University.  She is now works with other States to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Non-Proliferation Regime. Susan Burk spoke to us of her journey in government. Burk began as an intern with the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force for about four months which was located in the Pentagon and a part of the Department of Defense. It was here that she learned much about leadership skills from how well the military trained their officers in leadership techniques and skills. From there she was able to work with leaders such as  then Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Burk stated, “Traveling with him is like being with a rock star.”

Ambassador Susan Burk told the crowd that she learned most of her leadership skills while in the Air Force. She gave us ten important points of advice which we received as very important lessons to learn throughout our leadership journey at Georgian Court University:

  1. Look for opportunities to lead. – If you are presented with a leadership opportunity, take it because it gives you the experience and knowledge you need to move ahead.
  2. Importance of communication – Knowledge is power but teaching that knowledge is even more powerful.
  3. Be a good listener.
  4. Know what you know and know what you don’t know. – It is okay not to know everything and it is okay to ask questions when you don’t know the answer.
  5. If you make a bad decision, change it. – It is okay to admit that you messed up but be prepared to fix the situation.
  6. Treat people with respect. – Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Allow them to express their ideas. When addressing someone, be professional at all times. Show gratitude where it is needed!
  7. Project optimism. – Always have a positive attitude even when things seem as though they are not going as planned. Remember every problem has a solution and with a little brainstorming it can be solved.
  8. Don’t be afraid. – Take risks and try things that you normally would not. It will benefit you in the long run.
  9. “On their deathbed no one ever regrets not spending enough time at the office.”
  10. Look after yourself.  -Never neglect yourself when it comes to work. Work may get hectic from time to time but make sure that you can put that work away and spend time to focus on yourself.

Ambassador Susan Burk left our minds filled with excitement and also with the strength to strive to be all that we can be as women. These ten points will not happen over night but if we keep them in our minds and practice them everyday, women of this country will soon recognize their  strength in this world and collectively use it to affect positive change.

WILD VII member, Azaria Valentin asks career advice of Ambassador Burk.

We as women have ways to go.” – Ambassador Susan Burk

Written by: Jennifer Valentin and Shinade Ramirez

5 in 5 with WILD Alum, Leah Clarke

I had the pleasure of FINALLY catching up with friend and fellow graduate of GCU’s 2008 Centennial class, Miss Leah Clarke (a fellow WILD II alum!) I was able to ask her a few questions about life after GCU and WILD.

AH: What one thing did WILD prepare you the most for during your post-graduate career?

LC: WILD  gave me the confidence I needed to thrive in my career. All of the workshops, speakers and the activities helped me to present myself as a young professional that was prepared, polished, and knowledgable. I was also able to create a personal vision for myself using everything I learned about myself in WILD.

AH: What goals have you accomplished since you graduated from Georgian Court?

LC: Since I graduated from GCU I have finished my Masters in Organizational Leadership and I am currently working as an Admissions and Database Coordinator for a nonprofit named Year Up that provides opportunities for young adults from urban areas. It was through my first job at Catherine McAuley H.S. right out of college I realized my passion to help young adults achieve.

AH: Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?

LC: In five years I see myself finishing up my Doctorate in urban studies and growing in my current organization. In ten years I see myself developing a community center that helps to combat the economic and social disadvantages that affect the residents of urban communities.

AH: If you could have lunch with any three people dead or alive, who would you choose and why?

LC: If I could have dinner with any three people it would be Michelle Obama, Martin Luther King and Maya Angelou.

AH: What newspapers, websites, or magazines do you read most frequently to keep up with current events?

LC: To keep up with current events I usually read  the Daily News, The New York Times, The,,, and of course (The Young, Black, & Fabulous)

Leah Clarke is an alum of Georgian Court’s Centennial class of 2008. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Business Administration. She was also co-founder of Georgian Court University’s Black Student Union. Miss Clarke also held the position of President of the Student Government Association during her senior year.