Reinforcing Skills and Confidence
Daniela Najera-Sainz came to the United States from Mexico City in high school and stayed longer than she – or her family – expected. Along the way, she found a career path, experienced Italy and found her faith. She leaves Spring Hill College to pursue work in California with more confidence than ever.
Najera-Sainz attended Sacred Heart School in Mexico for ninth and 10th grades before coming to Sacred Heart in Lafayette, Louisiana, for 11th and 12th grades. She was only supposed to be in the United States – and away from her family – for a year but ended up applying to colleges in the U.S. and committing to Spring Hill as an international student. She appreciated that Spring Hill put forth an effort into convincing her to visit the campus, and she knew she wouldn’t be just a number. She said that when she toured, everything just felt right.
Najera-Sainz said she has always been good with numbers and that she had an uncle who studied economics, so it’s something she has always been interested in.
“It wasn’t just the study of how numbers work but it was studying people’s lives and how they make decisions based on the money that they have,” she said, adding that, from an early age, she has wondered about the different economic backgrounds of people and why she had more opportunities than others. “I decided to study financial economics because I wanted to change the way people perceive money. It started this deep-rooted passion for being able to provide opportunities for others.”
Her high school focused on social justice and service and this has impacted her world view and passions as well. The impact continued at Spring Hill and she was able to learn even more than economics because of the other classes she took and being influenced by those with other majors. She discovered a passion for philosophy and realized that she could incorporate her philosophical views with her financial knowledge.
“What I value about Spring Hill is that no matter what you’re doing or you feel content in a place, you’re always taken out of your comfort zone. That was extremely valuable for me, because even though I’m someone who is able to step out of my comfort zone, there are times when you can feel a little bit more comfortable than others.”
During her time on The Hill, Najera-Sainz was involved with an international student group on campus. She served at Little Sisters of the Poor through the Foley Community Service Center and helped people do their tax returns. She also attended the Spring Hill College Italy Center in Bologna.
“I realize how much personal growth I made during that year when it came to my vulnerability and how comfortable I became with myself,” she said. “So even though I was already sure about myself, it was a reinforcement that I’ve never experienced before.”
After graduation, Najera-Sainz will move to San Francisco to work with Because Justice Matters as an intern/assistant with the plan to take on a management role after that. She hopes to learn as much as she can about managing a nonprofit organization so that she can eventually start her own. She worked as an intern with the organization last year and, in her freshman year, interned with a financial firm in Mexico.
Najera-Sainz said she feels like she’s always known what she wanted in her life and who she wanted to be, but her experience at Spring Hill College has reinforced this in ways she never would have expected.
“What I value about Spring Hill is that no matter what you’re doing or you feel content in a place, you’re always taken out of your comfort zone,” she said reflecting on her time here. “That was extremely valuable for me, because even though I’m someone who is able to step out of my comfort zone, there are times when you can feel a little bit more comfortable than others.”