Let me tell you the story of a person who has gone through many painful experiences throughout their life but has used these experiences to serve others. This person was mocked and made fun of as a young kid when they immigrated to the United States at the age of 11. This traumatic taunting led them to stuttering and a paralyzing fear of public speaking for half their life.

However, decades later, this person was able to overcome their fear of public speaking and stuttering. They decided to share their painful experiences and vulnerabilities with others, specifically with first-generation and marginalized students. They have had the privilege of being a keynote speaker for First-Generation Graduation, speaking at high school conferences, and Pilipino Graduation ceremonies. They have even conducted public speaking workshops for students who share their background as an immigrant.

This person’s story doesn’t end there. During their undergraduate years, they experienced painful moments as a student leader. As an inexperienced student leader, they made many mistakes and felt shunned by the community they cared about. These painful memories stayed with them for decades. But instead of letting these experiences defeat them, this person used them to provide guidance to the students they advised in the last two decades.

Recently, a group of student leaders this person advised found themselves in a difficult situation that led them to question themselves and their ability to lead. The situation even impacted their mental health, relationships, and academics. This person could relate to their struggles and offered them the perspective of someone who had faced similar challenges. They shared with the students that the moments of struggle and failure contributed to their growth and the lessons they still use today in their leadership position at their university.

This person’s story is a testament to the fact that our painful experiences and weaknesses can be used to serve others. By sharing our vulnerabilities, we can offer guidance and support to those who are going through similar struggles. This person’s journey shows that our struggles can contribute to our growth and help us become better versions of ourselves.

That person is me.