Talk about positive momentum.
In the few weeks before he graduated, communication major Jake Barrientos '15 won an elevator pitch contest and brought home an award for extraordinary service. Not surprisingly, he also had a job waiting for him after he got his diploma.
Barrientos was one of four Johnnies, two of them communication majors, to win this year's Caritas Man of Extraordinary Service Award.
In addition to working in the CSB/SJU Admission Office and hosting plenty of prospective students, he also was a mentor for the Intercultural Center and the co-creator of the non-profit organization Todo Posible.
He found his passion for working with people in CSB/SJU's Academic Advising Office and then got involved with Admission.
"It was such a pleasure to really recruit these other Latinos coming from Texas and California, just sitting down with them and saying, 'Hey, you can do this. This school is awesome.'"
Next, he started bridging his campus work with the surrounding community. Barrientos and Elia Medina '15 launched Todo Posible as part of the CSB/SJU Donald McNeely Center's Entrepreneur Scholars program. Todo Posible connects CSB/SJU student mentors with Latino high school students in nearby Cold Spring to show them that going to a good college is a real possibility.
"It's just amazing. It's a program that I wish I could have been part of in high school, and it's great to be able to do this and be able to give back to the community," said Barrientos, who is from Red Wing, Minnesota.
He feels Todo Posible has already had a strong positive impact, and he and Medina will continue in advisory roles post-graduation as other CSB/SJU students continue the program.
Barrientos also put his communication skills to work to win a campus elevator pitch contest through the McNeely Center. He wrote a 90-second pitch on a product he invented called eco urns, biodegradable urns for pets that sprout trees when buried.
"It was awesome because it was first-place awarded and also audience favorite."
The accolades are giving Barrientos a solid launch into his career.
"It's amazing. I just feel extremely blessed," he said. "Obviously service-type work is never done in order to get recognition."
But the recognition is a nice byproduct.
"It's very empowering. It gives me a lot of self-confidence."
Barrientos originally thought he would major in global business leadership, but communication turned out to be the perfect fit.
"If I were to go back, there's no doubt in my mind, I would be a communication major again," he said.
"I'm being challenged, I'm learning, and that's what we go to school for."
He was self-assured in his presentation for the Entrepreneur Scholars program and his job interview, he said, and he certainly will use his education in areas such as rhetoric, persuasion, public speaking and intercultural communication in his job with Aerotek's Dallas office and his service to the community.
"I know I'm an undergraduate and I know I don't have a lot of experience, but I know I'll perform very well."