#iumienwomenmoversandshakers: Alicia Saechao

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

I believe that one of the most significant barrier to female leadership is that we're not getting the trust or confidence that a woman can lead as well as a man if not better. We are often viewed as emotional and incapable of making an objective decision. We have to continuously proof that we're competent to lead before being trusted in a leadership role. I hope that as more women take on more leadership role, this bias will no longer be a bias or a barrier. To start, we have to support women who have the courage to lead whether that's in a community, at home or at work. We also have to teach our sons and/or daughters that a person's capability is not determined by one's gender, rather the effort that one put forth.

What is one event that helped shape your life?

The one event that helped shape my life was immigrating to America with my family although I didn't have a choice as a child but this event significantly impacted my life. Like many refugee families, we were very poor and barely surviving in the refugee camps. Having enough food to eat was what was on my mind most days. When my family and I immigrated to the United States, I was ten years old with very minimum education and unable to speak any English. As a kid, I never dreamed that I will be given an opportunity to be educated. When I was given the opportunity to go to school, I made a promise to myself to be educated. Each level of schooling, I struggled to assimilate to the American way because I couldn't speak or write English properly but as the years progressed, I began to build more confidence and courage to keep on pushing myself despite all the challenges I had faced.Education has open many doors for me from pulling myself from living in poverty level to living a comfortable life. I am truly grateful that my parents have given my siblings and I this opportunity as I know that they were not given the same opportunity when they were young.

What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?

One of the toughest decision I had to make was completing my bachelor's degree. I was on my last year of college but at that time, I was just given birth to my daughter and on top of that, my boyfriend who is now my husband and I just bought a house. We had this huge bill to pay and with no means to pay for child care so I had to decide whether to allow my baby who was just four months old to stay with my mom out of town and not get to see her until the weekends or not finish school. While crying, I made the tough decision to continue on with my education. Every time my daughter leaves with my mom, my heartache but I knew that I had to set a good example for her and that I was trying to build a better future for all of us. After a year while working full-time, being a full-time student and juggling to be a good mother, I completed my degree. Today because of that decision, we are in a better position financially than before and that hardwork do eventually payoff.

What is an accomplishment you are proud of?

I have to say being able to be a working mother. I am grateful that I have the help from my mom to allow me to work while being a mother. As a woman, I struggle with having both worlds but this has made me a better mother to my children. I treasure the time I have with them and so far I can see my daughter instilling this mentality that a woman can have both worlds if she's willing to work hard for what she wants to accomplish.

If there was a young girl out there who wanted to do what you did, what would you tell her?

I have failed so many times while trying to get to where I am today but each failure gets a little easier. I say be willing to work hard and have perseverance because life will throw things at you unexpectedly and sometimes you have to rest which is very necessary before you continue to march forward. In addition, be willing to fight for your dreams even when you are facing adversity and remember that every great accomplishment comes with sacrifices but if you're willing to fight for it, I promise you, it will be worth it!

How can people get a hold of you? i.e., social media, phone


Alicia.saechao@gmail.com, https://www.linkedin.com/in/aliciasaechao

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