Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) 2015 Leadership In Action Intern, Avalon Igawa, was placed at the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center. She is a rising junior in the fall, attending the University of Southern California. Below she shares with LEAP who she would appreciate having attend her LIA graduation.
“So do you think I should wear the black dress with the flats or the white one with the brown shoes?” “Or do you think that one is too casual?” “Is it is too serious, maybe?”
I had a lot of questions before my first day of work, but thankfully, I also have a patient mother. With a reminder that as long as I felt comfortable, either would probably be fine, I took a deep breath and felt much more assured about my day going forward. How did mothers do that? Here I was at twenty years old, still calling my mom about how to get dressed in the morning and there she was, still answering the phone and knowing how to calm me down.
When I think about this summer and how I’ve thrived in six weeks of the LIA program, I can’t help but imagine the disaster I would’ve been and continued to be without my mother’s support. From the stuck-in traffic freak outs to the I-just-want-to-share-because-I’m-so-excited gibberish, she’s definitely gotten an ear full this summer. I’m not someone who calls their mom every day, or even every week, but when it is important, she always find a way to fit me in. Despite the fact, that my stressed self is often an aggressive communicator. I may be in the years of my life where I’m changing the most, but I’d say my mom still knows me a little bit better than I know myself. Especially in knowing how to give me space to struggle and learn while still not leaving me to drown.
Avalon and her mother, Ms. Cathleen O'Farrell with joy at the LIA Graduation
Her support and her love have given me the confidence and knowledge to be a better self this summer in the LIA program, and that’s why it would mean so much to bring her to our graduation this August. It would be absolutely incredible to receive a Southwest Airline ticket to give to my mother so that she could share a part of the experience that she’s only been able to hear about from two states away. She has given an unquantifiable amount for me to be where I am today, and I know that being present at our ending celebration would mean so much to her.
I would love for my mother to meet all the interns and staff that have enriched my life so much this summer and made it worth it to stay away in Los Angeles. If she’s able to come to graduation, she’ll be able to see, in person, what I’ve dedicated these weeks to and why I always have so many things to talk about.
There isn’t really any way you can repay a mother, but having the opportunity to fly her out to meet your summer Los Angeles family, is definitely a start.
Thanks to Southwest Airlines, Ms. Cathleen O'Farrell was able to attend the graduation on August 7, 2015 and be with her daughter to celebrate her accomplishments and meet her fellow peers this past summer. Additionally, Avalon happened to wear the same outfit that she wore during her interview. It was definitely the right choice for her and she was the right choice for LEAP's program.
About Leadership In Action
Leadership in Action (LIA) is LEAP’s eight-week paid summer internship program designed to develop emerging young leaders by providing college students with practical leadership skills and the opportunity to work hands-on in the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community in Southern California. For more information, visit: www.leap.org/empower_lia.