As senioritis began to kick in towards the end of my last semester, so did the stress and pressure of finding and securing a job post-graduation. It is almost every senior’s nightmare to leave college not knowing what they want to do with the rest of their lives and not have any position ready. Luckily for me, I found The American Heart Association! Through the fabulous art of networking, outreach, and crossing fingers, I was able to obtain the position of Intern of Impact for Communication & Marketing in the NYC area. Yes, I am proud to say I did it! I became part of the 72.3% of college graduates who are employed, and although it may seem like a high rate, to many, it is not a number they can easily be a part of.
Two days after graduation, I went straight to work. Although my internship with The American Heart Association did not officially start until the upcoming Monday, through the support and effort of Diego Ortiz Quintero and Mark Hurley, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the annual Wall Street Run & Heart Walk event and volunteer alongside members and sponsors under the Survivor Tent.
|Daniela Vega attended the Rutgers School of Communication & Information Graduation Ceremony on May 11, 2023 and on May 18, 2023, she volunteered at the Wall Street Run & Heart Walk- her first American Heart Association Event!
Although we only had a few conversations up until that point, Mark and Diego were eager to provide me with as much exposure to the organization as possible and help me gain first-hand experience of the work that is done for the community. The event brought together close to 10,000 people to awareness about issues that surround stroke and the heart disease, raise money and honor survivors and those who lost their life to CVD. I truly felt as though it was a celebration of strength and empowerment.
Every survivor, family member, friend, and co-worker that I talked to showed how much they not only value life, but their ability to overcome the challenges they faced and continue pushing forward for themselves and others. While each runner and walker had a number to signify their participation in the event, what stood out the most was the red and white hats worn by survivors, the number of years of having been a survivor signified by colored ping-pong balls, and the stickers on everyone’s backs dedicated to who or what they were running/walking for.
It was a true celebration of life and dedication to never give up. Not every story was the same but the one common factor that brought pure joy to me was the fact that each person was given the chance to be present – to be able to talk with others and engage in the activities; proof that support and determination conquers all.
My first week with the New York City team was amazing. It is one thing to read a letter about what research has been done or listen to a speech about how much work was put into an event, but to be a part of the behind-the-scenes conversation is entirely different. Throughout the week, both virtual and in-person, I met representatives from various departments and sat in numerous meetings that ranged from detailing flyers to brainstorming and confirming potential events. This summer is going to be a busy one!
As each day passes and every page in my notebook fills, I look forward to achieving each of the nine goals that were set by Diego, Mark, and I. With excitement brewing and eagerness driving me forward, I am very excited to work with such an amazing team and help make an impact for the betterment of the community!