In honor of Educators Appreciation Week, Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana is celebrating educators who continue to change lives, like Kennedi Walker! Kennedi is a life coach at The Excel Center® on Michigan Street and has been with Goodwill for four years. Originally starting as a Manager of Office Administration, visitors in her building would often comment on how warm, energetic and welcoming Kennedi made them feel. Read below to learn more about this compassionate and dynamic leader!What do you love most about what you do?
As a life coach at The Excel Center, what I love most about what I do is being able to be a role model for other women and speak to them about their previous path and future endeavors. It's encouraging and fulfilling to hear other women be inspired by my journey as well. However, I didn't grow up with a silver spoon; I was a first-generation college student, the 3rd oldest sibling of 7 sisters and 3 brothers, and when my father passed when I was 9 years old, I had to be the 2nd mom in our household. I started working at the age of 14, so it wasn't an easy life. There are so many students I meet that share similar stories, and I love being in a position to let them know there is a way forward! They can overcome their circumstances and be everything they've ever imagined and more.
Tell us about who you look up to and why.
I was raised by all women. In my family, we like to refer to our women as lionesses. Common qualities of a lioness include being strong, independent, brave, fierce, loyal and graceful. The woman I look up to most is my mother, Michelle Espinoza, as she taught me how to exhibit all of these qualities. She's braved some of life's toughest challenges and still manages to support other women around her, encourage her children, all the while displaying lioness characteristics. She has taught me to prevail and push through tough times. She has instilled in me that I am capable of achieving any and everything I've ever imagined. She is my backbone which allows me to be the strong backbone for others (I love you Mommy!).
Any advice to young people who want to succeed in the workplace?
My advice for young people who want to succeed in the workplace is "never discount yourself"! Do not minimize your worth and value based on gender stereotypes; rather, be the trailblazer who won't conform! Women like Michelle Obama, Alexandria Osasio-Cortez, Jane Elliot, Billie Holiday and Angela Rye are monumental leaders and change evoking strategists who create(d) platforms for others to follow. These women, along with many unnamed women, have helped set the precedence of what people, of all races and backgrounds, are capable of achieving.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
If I could give my younger self any advice, it would be to "not be so critical of yourself". I've always been my toughest critic which isn't so good because the judgment and pressure I put on myself tends to hinder me from life's possibilities. I would tell my younger self: you are good enough and you are worthy! Too many times we compare ourselves to others and their accomplishments which could cause us to feel less than or unworthy. Work on building your self-confidence, and it will push you through difficult times.
Thank you to Kennedi for these inspiring words and for her ever-present leadership at Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana. Happy Educators Appreciation Week! Let’s keep celebrating the innovative, talented educators in our lives.