msol program in hartford, connecticut

Elizabeth’s Story: Lessons in Leadership and Summoning her Personal Power (Part Two)

Breaking free for a brighter future

Once enrolled at Goodwin University, Elizabeth found the MSOL curriculum engaging.

“My two favorite classes were Leadership Practices in Organizational Communications and Negotiating and Conflict Response,” she recounted.

“If you knew me five years ago, I would run as fast as I could whenever there were conflicts at work. But through each class, I knew I had to start addressing disputes that would arise.

“In the MSOL program, I learned that how a leader listens to individual and group concerns and fosters the culture and climate of their workplace ultimately determines the team’s success.

A core component of the MSOL curriculum, students are encouraged to explore their career strengths and setbacks.

“My confidence has always been something I struggled with,” Elizabeth admitted.

“While earning my master’s degree, I realized my lack of confidence held me back from so much. But, I also uncovered how resilient I am. There have been many changes at work, home, and in our world, and I am grateful to say I remained authentic to who I am.”

“The MSOL program is for anyone ready to sharpen the skills in their toolbox and for those who need some additional tools to be the best leader wherever they land,” Elizabeth explained.

“The program will help you identify areas of weakness that have kept you chained and allow you to break free from them.”

Unparalleled professors

Elizabeth chose the MSOL program’s accelerated 7.5-week format, and she was learning through the hybrid method until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The program was flexible. Being a full-time employee, mom, wife, and active member in my church, I was still able to complete my assignments,” Elizabeth pointed out.

“This was especially true for me when I, my husband, and two children caught COVID in January 2021 — the week I was supposed to submit my portfolio and the last major piece to me graduating.

“Once I discovered I was positive, I was freaking out. I even tried to play it off on a Zoom call with Sandi. She immediately caught on and said, “What’s wrong, Liz?”

“I couldn’t lie and said, ‘I just found out I have COVID, and so does everyone else.’

To Elizabeth’s surprise, Sandi responded, ‘I want you to get better, and when you’re healthier, we can look at your portfolio. Right now, focus on getting your health back and taking care of your family.’

“I never thought that would be an option,” Elizabeth said.

“Through that interaction, Goodwin and Sandi specifically showed me they genuinely care for their students.”

“The caliber of the MSOL educators surprised me, too,” she remarked.

“The professors were wonderful, genuine, authentic, and challenged every one of us. They knew our names, got to know us, and asked about our personal and professional goals. They created concepts easy to understand, digest, and put into practice.”

A turbulent TED-Like Talk

An assignment designed to help students practice communication styles and polish their public speaking skills, MSOL learners must present a mandatory TED-Like Talk to their cohort before graduation.

A few nights before Elizabeth’s required TED-Like Talk, her father, living in Argentina, suffered a stroke.

“I almost didn’t make it to my TED-Like Talk,” Elizabeth announced.

“My plans must have changed three times before class. Since it was so close to the holidays, I didn’t have the funds to purchase a ticket to Argentina, and I also wanted to make sure I completed my course requirement.

“Our professor reminded me that family comes first and that I could make a video submission if I had to. I appreciated the option, but it didn’t sit well with me. I knew that public speaking was a huge fear of mine, and I needed to face that fear.

“I called my mom two nights before the TED-Like Talk, and she said, ‘Do not come here. Dad is fine, and he wants you to finish school.’

“When I told my cohort what was going on, they were all supportive, and some even offered to send me their airline miles. People I just met three months before were coming through for me, and that solidified how amazing my cohort was.”

Elizabeth gave her TED-Like Talk in person, and she dedicated her presentation to her dad, who, by taking her to that HART meeting at 15-years-old, “changed the course of her life and career.”

With a picture of her and her father on the screen, through a trembled voice, Elizabeth recognized, “If it weren’t for my father begging me to go to this meeting, there would be countless kids that would not have a safe space. If it weren’t for him, COMPASS would not be here, so — love you, dad.”

“Liz almost didn’t join our program because she had to do a TED-Like Talk,” Dr. Sandi Coyne-Gilbert offered.

“And when she survived that and thrived, she looked back and had such a sense of personal power.”

A close cohort

“The MSOL program is excellent if you’re looking to be a part of a cohort model where you get to know each person. I was exposed to different individuals, work experiences, and opinions, empowering deeper connections, support, and collaboration.

“I also love that my cohort came from different workplace sectors,” Elizabeth continued.

“We had two students who just finished their undergrad, then me, who waited 15 years, and others who waited 20 plus years to earn their master’s degree. We also had a diverse group of men and women with all different ethnic backgrounds; it made the program so much more enriching.”

“The friendships I made in my cohort are ones that will always be with me, she said.

“Even today, months after we’ve finished, many of us are still getting together with our families and hanging out. We all leaned on each other, especially once COVID hit. We had a group chat where we could connect, ask questions, and sometimes even vent. We all made it because we had each other.”

Community awards and commencement speech

The Southside Institution Neighborhood Alliance (SINA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the people of south-central Hartford. In 2020, Elizabeth was honored for her work in the Frog Hollow community and received the organization’s Neighborhood Service Award. Dr. Sandi Coyne-Gilbert was in virtual attendance, looking on proudly.

“Everyone clapped for her,” Coyne-Gilbert observed, “Liz was someone that people wanted to recognize.”

The following year, Goodwin presented Elizabeth with the University’s Community Service Award.

As Dr. Matt Connell emphasized, a rightful recipient, “Liz is the ultimate community outreach and organization connector.”

Next, Elizabeth was asked to be the graduation speaker for Goodwin University’s 2021 Commencement Ceremony.

Similar to the older woman commanding Elizabeth to “do something about it” in her neighborhood meeting decades prior, Elizabeth acknowledged in her speech that Goodwin, too, had the same “do something about it” attitude.

She showed appreciation for her cohort, saying, “You are all so special to me, and I couldn’t have gotten to this place without you.” And she thanked her professors when she said, “The support I received in just my first semester was unmatched.”

“She really wowed people,” Dr. Sandi Coyne-Gilbert communicated.

But for Elizabeth, her work is far from done.

“I want to develop my professional brand and become a better presenter,” she voiced.

“I am still so proud of myself for getting up on that stage and speaking. I even told my husband I was ready to do more of those.”

A legacy across a lifespan

“I’m happy I didn’t give up because there were times where I almost did,” Elizabeth said.

“But, I looked at my children at dinner one night and thought how hypocritical it would be if I quit. The MSOL program reinforced that I will always finish what I started.”

“For me, being relentless is about not giving up when you’re ready to throw in the towel. It means when one of my young people or their family members needs something, I will not stop until they get what they need. If there is a need and I can tackle it, you best believe I will be relentless in pursuing it.

“We forget that young kids have so much to give. Adults need to stand with them and encourage them to change the world around them,” Elizabeth advised.

“I am forever grateful that Sandi accepted me into her program. I am a better woman because of her,” she championed.

“I have become more self-aware, a better listener, I am able to recognize my emotions, and I am adapting to the ever-changing things in my life.”

“Liz really wants to do and be the best she can be, and there are big things around the corner for her,” Dr. Sandi Coyne-Gilbert forecasted.

“I am just someone who was challenged at a young age to do something extraordinary,” Elizabeth concluded humbly.

“Because of that challenge, it has shaped me into the woman I am today. Now, I want to share more of what I’ve done, what I’ve been through, and how ‘doing something about it’ can change everything.”

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References
Timmis, C. (2016, June 26). A Life of Giving: Elizabeth Giannetta-Ramos. Compass Youth Collaborative. https://compassyc.org/a-life-of-giving-elizabeth-giannetta-ramos/

Giannetta-Ramos, E. (2021, June 6). Goodwin University Commencement Speech 2021. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CPyGShLDMcL/

Goodwin University. (2019, December 24). MSOL 510 BC COHORT 6 Elizabeth. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu5lZmCvvgE

SINA. (2020, September 11). 2020 Neighborhood Service Award. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSCjkhUNIHw