A Little Attention at the Right Time Can be Transformational

A Little Attention at the Right Time Can be Transformational

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

~ Maya Angelou

This quote by Maya Angelou—the great poet and author that gave us words of inspiration and true gems of wisdom I use in my life—brings me back to my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Jackson, a strong and caring woman that would light up the room with her warm presence. She was able to “Transform Purposefully” by making people feel seen and feel like they mattered. I noticed that every time someone raised their hand in class or asked her a question she would say “Yes dear? What’s on your mind? Tell me…” and give her full attention.

I remember how she made me feel one day when she called me a phenomenal woman and proceeded to say “No matter what life throws at you remember this: You matter and the words that come out your mouth matter, so choose them wisely because that is what people will remember you by, and make sure you make people feel valued because all of God’s children matter.” That memory stays with me until this day.

She always gave us words of encouragement that would empower the class. She was truly a woman that made an impact in my life, and I aspired to one day make people feel seen and valued just as she did. This quote is a reminder and guide in my personal life as well as in my role her at FPU. It reminds me to be of service to my international students and to make them feel valued as Mrs. Jackson made me feel.

Currently the International Programs and Services Office serves 90 international students from 40 different countries. Most of our international students do not have family or friends when they arrive to the United States. FPU staff are the first to welcome them on campus. Along with being a student, they also have to follow visa regulations to maintain their status to stay in the United States. Most of our student population are student-athletes with rigorous schedules who also hold an on-campus job. They have a heavy load, so I make it my goal to give my full attention when I am needed.

It is rewarding to hear when I make a difference in a student’s life. I had one student who recently told me she remembers the first time she came to my office as a freshman, and I greeted her. She said she was overwhelmed with the transition to the U.S. from her home country and was ready to give up, but that she couldn’t because her family was counting on her. She later told me my attention to her needs and friendly conversation calmed her down. She remembered I then invited her to one of our international club trips to Santa Monica, and she told me that trip saved her—she met friends and was able to talk to me about her concerns and worries. She is now a junior and tells me how much she needed a warm conversation and attention. She said that if she hadn’t come to my office that day, she is not sure if she could have made it through her freshman year and probably would have given up.

To “Transform Purposefully” in this way is what a servant-leader is all about. A small gesture can mean the world to someone, and you don’t even know it. The ultimate reward for me is to hear I have made an impact on a student’s life just as Mrs. Jackson did for me.

Angela Muñoz, MBA

Angela Muñoz, MBA

Director of the International Programs and Services Office