Jaquelline Ruiz-Velasco '12
Flexibility is key for young professional
By: Lisa Kohlndorfer
Published July 2016
A college senior, Jaquelline Ruiz-Velasco, ’12, is ready to put her education into action. A graduate of St. Joan Antida High School, she now studies at Cardinal Stritch University with a major in International Business, with minors in Accounting and Spanish. With an eye towards her professional development, Ruiz-Velasco embodies the vital importance of staying flexible to make the most of every opportunity.
After spending her freshman year at a public school, Ruiz-Velasco transferred to SJA to take advantage of the smaller class sizes and the all-girl student body.
“At SJA I felt comfortable, we could all be ourselves. It was less distracting and there was less drama without boys there, so we could concentrate on school,” she said.
SJA’s diverse student body also made an impact on Ruiz-Velasco, teaching her the importance of listening to others.
“It’s great at SJA because there’s no one type of student,” she said. “The girls are all different races and religions. This type of exposure gives you an important skill in any professional setting – to be patient and be willing to listen.”
Ruiz-Velasco was able to put this lesson into practice with her involvement with the SJA Robotics team (RoboChix), her favorite memory of SJA. Being in a group meant working together with lots of different voices. Even back then, she could see her professional development beginning.
“I learned a lot about myself while on RoboChix,” Ruiz-Velasco reflected. “I loved solving problems, and I like working both as a team and as an individual.”
She also appreciated the school’s multitude of programs and classes that offered a “sneak peek” into various career paths.
“SJA provided everything that a student could need to prepare for college,” she said.
After graduating high school, Ruiz-Velasco began working towards her Bachelor’s degree at Cardinal Stritch University. She chose this school for the same reasons she loved SJA – it’s a small, comfortable space that allows her to take advantage of every resource and try different things.
Through Stritch and the Sol Education Program, Ruiz-Velasco had the opportunity to study abroad in Costa Rica her junior year. This experience reinforced for her the importance of embracing diversity and remaining flexible – both professionally and personally.
“Wherever you go, you have to be ready to deal with different thoughts and opinions,” said Ruiz-Velasco. “Otherwise, you’re missing out on a lot of great ideas and connections.”
Since returning from her time abroad, Ruiz-Velasco’s biggest commitment has been to Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee (HPGM), a local organization that offers career and professional development services to Hispanic professionals and students. They offer numerous opportunities for members to engage with community contacts through their newsletter, a job board, and networking events.
Ruiz-Velasco began her time with HPGM through its Stritch chapter, of which she is now the Vice President. She also currently works as an intern in their main office, where she is able to gain experience in multiple aspects of HPGM’s operations.
“I do a little bit of everything. It’s a friendly environment, where people will help each other instead of sticking to their own thing,” Ruiz-Velasco said.
Ruiz-Velasco emphasized how internships are also a great way to learn about different types of work environments.
“At an internship, you can see what you like and don’t like,” she explained. “It’s a way to test your feet in the water before jumping in.”
Ruiz-Velasco is excited to put those skills she has been fine-tuning since high school to use in the corporate world. While she still has yet to decide that first career move, her focus remains on finishing these last few months as a college student.
Ruiz-Velasco is set to graduate from Stritch in May of 2016, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college.
“I’m ready to graduate, in a way. I’m ready for real life, for the real world,” she said.