Cal State LA business graduate creates opportunities for others
Once stymied by fear, she now uses those experiences to achieve her goals and grow.
By Leily Sanchez | Cal State LA News Service
"Destiny! Destiny! Destiny!”
The words echoed through the room as Destiny Calderon approached a wood block set atop two red brick columns. Encouraged by her peers and the hundreds of onlookers, she karate-chopped the wood block. The inscribed words “Fear of Disappointment” fell to the floor.
Calderon’s experiences at the Circle of Change Leadership Conference last fall marked a turning point in her relationship with fear.
“I finally understood what was stopping me,” she says. “I realized that I was my burden … I am doing all of these things, but sometimes I would let the negative thoughts get to me.”
Calderon, a 22-year-old San Gabriel Valley resident, graduated on May 22 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, in the marketing option, with a minor in real estate from the College of Business and Economics. Her degree is the culmination of her efforts to challenge herself—and overcome fear—while creating leadership opportunities for herself and others at Cal State LA.
Calderon is the founding president of the first on-campus Toastmasters chapter and of the Marketing Analytics and Research Student Club. Over the years, she worked as a student assistant for the university’s International Office and the College of Business and Economics, where she was also the only undergraduate student on the strategic planning committee.
Calderon volunteered as a qualitative marketing research assistant for the College of Professional and Global Education and as the national events coordinator for the university’s Career Development Center, where she also assisted with the mentoring program. Calderon has held internships with EnrichLA, a non-profit organization that builds edible gardens in schools, and the United Parcel Service.
Her achievements would not have been possible if she had allowed her fear—and the uncomfortable feeling it causes—to control her.
“When it comes to being uncomfortable, I have taken away the negative," Calderon says. "Every time it is uncomfortable, I think of it as an opportunity to grow and learn –– when you do feel uncomfortable, do it!"
Calderon’s list of achievements includes the creation of the university’s CASE Competition in fall 2018 with the help of Maryam Tofighi, Cal State LA assistant professor of marketing.
In the competition, which stands for Connecting Alumni and Students with Employers, teams of Cal State LA students compete to provide real-world business problem solutions to a sponsoring company based on market research analysis.
“One of my team members was shy and nervous … so up until we were next, I made sure that we were practicing and practicing,” she adds. Just as she had envisioned, they won first place and a cash prize.
For Calderon, winning the competition resulted in an internship opportunity with the sponsoring company. She declined the offer to enable another student to gain the experience she felt she had already received at other companies and at Cal State LA.
"She shared her story with me and how her mission is to empower others. This vision she has at such an early age is outstanding," Tofighi says.
Seeing her eagerness and potential, Tofighi provided Calderon with the chance to contribute to her behavioral research studies as a research assistant.
“She is a very smart and bright student. She is a fast learner. She listens very carefully. She becomes quiet and absorbs every word I tell her—she’s a great leader, she gets things done,” Tofighi says.
Calderon plans to continue studying for the real estate licensing exam. Eventually, Calderon says, she plans to earn a Ph.D. and to incorporate her love of public speaking into her career in marketing research.
And her approach to accomplishing her achievements? She says: “Whether I was nervous or not, I just did it. And afterwards I would think, 'Ok, where's the next one?'”
“We think too much, and when we overthink, it [taps into] our fears ... [Seeing progress] allowed me to not think about or be scared about taking the next opportunity,” she says.