Professionalism

“Building My Resume”

So I’ve quelled a life-long ambition and attained my Juris Doctorate degree and I’m living the dream as a sports agent. The hard work and endless planning for my future have all paid off and the dream came to fruition. But the road was long and winding and at times even dark and thick with obstacles. Sometimes I wanted to settle, sometimes I wanted to quit, but each time I came back to the same mantra: “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, Cecilia. You’ll get there before you know it.” Here’s a glimpse of what that road was like for me.

Graduation day, May 1993 – I have since forgotten the actual date. It was a very tough year for me. My senior year in high school had gotten off to a very late start because Hurricane Andrew had his way with South Florida. Consequently I along with my family ended up homeless. My parents worked it out expeditiously, however, and soon thereafter we again had a roof over our heads. But that wasn’t the tough part. Throughout the summer of 1992, my beloved grandmother was steadily losing her fight to pancreatic cancer. She finally succumbed on October 30, 1992. The pain from having witnessed her life slowly slipping away from mine compounded by the finality of her passing has never left me. Here it is almost 18 years since then and I am still grieving just as much. The only difference now is that I am better able to handle the pain. Needless to say that wasn’t the case way back during my senior year in high school.

So my grades slipped a bit, I didn’t play soccer that year, and I somehow got through my last year of high school enveloped in a cloak of melancholy. On the outside I was a the same C.C. everyone knew but on the inside I was trying to pick up the pieces of a heart broken into smithereens. I didn’t even want to walk at my graduation and didn’t care to show up to it. But my mother’s constant urging and my father’s reminder that my grandmother would have wanted me to walk across that stage got me into my cap and gown that day in May. Looking back, I’m glad I did it.

The next step was college. Not having been born into an affluent family, the fact of the matter was that I had to become gainfully employed and work my way through college. So during the summer of 1993 I secured a position with a solar water heating outfit as a salesperson. It was a good fit for me and in retrospect I was going green before I even knew what being green meant! I did quite well in that job and worked there through my first semester in college. Then, sometime after Thanksgiving, I received a call from one of the major airlines. By then I had long since forgotten that I submitted an application for employment to work at this airline at the beginning of the summer. In a span of three weeks, I went in for an interview, took a drug test, got cleared with a background check and arrived at the airline’s ticket counter at the Miami International Airport on December 20, 1993 ready to work. It was exciting and nerve-racking all at the same time. There I was an 18-year-old, just graduated from high school with nary any life experience, working for a Fortune 500 multinational corporation and I was scared to death.

The next 11 years are a complete blur. Let’s see: I worked each area of the front line airport customer service department for the airline in Miami. Working in a Category X airport allowed me to fine tune many skills ranging from my foreign language skills (I speak six languages) to my people skills to my communication skills. Additionally, the employee benefits are like none other – namely the the travel perks! Seeing the world and traveling extensively was an education in itself. Then on October 30, 1997 I transferred to the Orlando International Airport and relocated to O-town. I was 22 years old. I was still just a ticket and gate agent at the time. Two promotions later it was 2001 and I was the youngest Supervisor of Airport Customer Service at 25 years old. Not only was I a double minority in a workplace in which my peers were predominantly male, those peers were also my seniors by many, many years in two respects. I was the youngest of the supervisor ranks in age by about 20 years and junior in work tenure seniority by at least that much. It wasn’t always easy, but I held my own. I always did the right thing by the customers and by the employees. Then in 2004, I accepted a severance package and became another number in a workforce reduction campaign. After more than 10 years in the airline industry, I turned my airline and airport IDs in. It was time to start a new chapter in my life.

Here’s the kicker, though folks. Remember how I mentioned previously that I needed to work my way through college?Well, the sad truth is that having accepted the job with the airline wasn’t the decision most conducive to finishing school. What with shift work, rotating days off, and shift bids based on seniority, it was quite some time before I was able to secure some semblance of a stable schedule at work – one that would allow me to start a semester and actually finish it. On more than one occasion I had to withdraw from a class because I really needed to keep my job. So I was on the 13-year college plan. I’m not joking – I finally graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science on July 31, 2004. Severing from the airline meant that I was entirely free and clear to complete my education. Immediately following my graduation from college, I enrolled in an LSAT prep class, took the LSAT and got accepted to Barry University School of Law for the 2008 class.

Once law school started in August of 2005, I saw first hand what everyone always talked about concerning law school. The first year they scare you to death. The second year they work you to death. The third year they bore you to death. All in all, law school was not that difficult. For me the biggest bear during law school was incurring the copious amounts of debt that I had to in order to attend. But no matter, I have every bit of confidence that the law school debt will be paid off in the foreseeable future. On May 17, 2008, I became Cecilia Estrada, JD.

It took me an incredibly long time to get to that point. Many times I wondered if my toil with its trials and tribulations would ever yield anything to savor, anything into which to sink my teeth. I was tired – no I was sick and tired. Only the occasional glare of the light at the end of the tunnel kept me going. Then once I accomplished a goal, each triumph served to rev my machine back up and I lunged forward towards the next challenge. But, dear reader, all of my toil, trials and tribulations held no amount of quantifiable wherewithal compared to what the months immediately following demanded of me.

The year 2008 was tumultuous at best. In that year I: 1.) Graduated from law school 2.) Studied extensively for the NFL agent certification exam 3.) Took the NFL agent certification exam 4.) Studied extensively for the bar exam. 5.) Took the bar exam 6.) Married my husband and 7.) Had my firstborn. The intensity level through which I had to put my mind, body and soul was unparalleled. It literally took me a full year to recover. Three months after my child was born, I was still sobbing spontaneously and dealing with extremely shaky hands. Three months after that, I was getting better and the world looked brighter. Three months later, I started to get my game plan together for the following football recruiting season. Then after the next three months life was better again, my kid was a year old, and all the steady work that I had undertaken and completed through the muck had placed me in a desirable position. I had succeeded in establishing through networking a support system with which to bounce things off of and also use as a sounding board. This year, therefore, was the year in which I actually made my debut to the world as an NFL sports agent.

Putting one foot in front of the other, and never looking back. Always having a clearly defined goal in my sights. Being humble enough to admit when help is needed. Never losing kindness, respect, courtesy, and consideration for myself and for others. Keeping my priorities straight and in line with my goals. These are the ways that got me to this point in my life. I am the sum total of all my experiences and each one of them have helped define and outline the path that I have walked to get here. It would’ve been so easy to hang it up so many times. But that little voice in the back of my mind and in the bottom of my heart kept reminding me to never give up.

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