How Serving Others Helped Susana Gonzalez Achieve Professional Success
One evening, when Susana Gonzalez was a little girl, she brought dinner to her mother at her second job of the day in a local factory. Observing her mother labor so hard was a pivotal moment for Gonzalez, as she realized all her mother’s hard work was for her children to have a better life than she ever had. Her mother always said the only way to succeed in life is to stay in school. Her mother wanted her children to have a better life and educational opportunities she never had.
“I knew that if I didn’t get an education, it would break my mother’s heart, and all her struggles to give us a better life would have been in vain,” Gonzalez tells Color Us Women. “To me, that was one of the turning points in my life’s path.”
Although Gonzalez’s career path required a lot of trials, tribulations, and hard work, it was the type of journey she knew would make her a better human being in life. “I always knew that I wanted to be a nurse. I grew up dealing with the social determinants of health of poor environments, crime, language barriers, ill-health of community, unsafe schools, etc.
We were just downright poor and disenfranchised. But at home, we had love and faith and when I was twelve years old, I started to serve as a first-aid person in my neighborhood to young and old alike. There were people in my neighborhood who were poor, sick, with substance abuse.
Episodes like these reinforced that I would be in a caring role in life because I was recognized as compassionate and kind in everything I did, even as a child.”
In fact, Gonzalez’s life philosophy has always been if there is something, I can do for you now then let it be so, for we may not walk this path again. This credence has guided Gonzalez her entire life, as she embraced an educational path that would drive her to help others and lead a life of generosity and compassion in any role she has worked and served. Gonzalez earned two bachelor’s and two master’s degrees and uses her well-earned knowledge to help mentor and inspire others but especially the next generation of nurses.
“My father once told me that I have natural-born leadership qualities,” Gonzalez recalls. These leadership qualities have led her to serve on many boards, such as the March of Dimes-Chicago, Mujeres Latinas en Accíon, and the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium.
She has served as a president for the National Association of Hispanic Nurses – Illinois chapter and serves on the national board as well. She also sits on the American Nurses Association-Illinois board of directors. She shares her wisdom, skills, talents, and energy on several committees with these organizations, among others.
Gonzalez stresses that to survive as a genuine leader, “you need to be resilient, live by your values, and be grateful every day for what you have". True to her credence, Gonzalez firmly believes that embracing education and leadership opportunities will not only help open doors for you but also help open doors for others. Here are her tips on how to prepare yourself so that you can get invited to the table and help others along the way:
1. Be honest with yourself
Ask yourself: Who are you? What are your values? What is your true character? Gonzalez encourages those she mentors and inspires to be true to who they are to pursue a fulfilling career and to find purposeful value to their own life’s mission and to serve any organization with integrity.
2. Leave fear behind
Gonzalez emphasizes that fear can hinder you from developing who you are and attaining leadership opportunities. Letting go of fear, embracing lessons learned, and staying true to your values will help you thrive. She also advises avoiding fear and negativity in the workplace by choosing your battles carefully and steering clear of toxic work environments where you are not appreciated.
3. Find a mentor and pay it forward simultaneously
“Find a mentor or role model that can assist you as you grow professionally,” advises Gonzalez. As you learn from your mentor and role models then you also simultaneously give encouragement and support to others for growth and improvement. This helps you and others build a professional network and will help you grow into a genuine leader. Gonzalez also adds that making purposeful faithful decisions in your career path will help you continue to always stay focused to pay it forward for others you serve.
Susana Gonzalez puts out into the world what she wants to get back, as is evidenced by her life of generosity and altruistic body of work. Her philosophy on life -- if there is something, I can do for you now then let it be so, for we may not walk this path again -- has allowed her to serve her community and beyond, all while reaping the professional distinctions she so greatly deserves.
Learn more about Gonzalez by following her on LinkedIn.