Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Asa T. Spaulding, Sr. Award for Leadership (2020) - Mary Fernandez

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(upbeat funky music)

- [voice] Mary Fernandez.

- Of all the people that I know,

Mary has so much tenacity and determination

and she is someone who is just never comfortable

with the status quo and is always looking to improve things

and find ways that things can be made better.

And I think that she's definitely succeeded

in doing that here at Fuqua.

- Personally, she has brought this warmth

to all of the groups that she's encountered.

And I think that she just kind of brings

that spirit of being really accepting

of people just from the get-go.

And I think that that has inspired

a lot of people in groups to kind of engage more

with the Fuqua community, sort of modeling

how she approaches and values other people at Fuqua.

- All of the people that have interacted with Mary

in one way or another, whether through the programming

that she's done, as a friend,

or in the classroom, would say that she has easy laughter,

and can quickly put anyone at ease.

And I think that, even though it seems like a small thing,

it's something that I will always remember.

- I think I'll remember most Mary's sense of humor.

She is always able to take a tense situation,

make a joke, and have everyone relax.

And so, one situation I can think of is one

of the last Daring Dialogues, where people come together

to talk about a really difficult topic.

This one was about socioeconomics

and you were supposed to speak to people

who are in very different levels.

You don't know how they grew up.

And all Mary had to do was joke at the beginning

about it, about herself, and just put everyone at ease.

And it made it a lot easier for everyone

to talk about a really taboo topic.

- The Dialogues that she opened up around race,

gender, socioeconomic status, things like that,

conversations that Fuqua students have

that sometimes feel very touchy,

but had them in a very safe and open environment.

Those conversations were huge, you know,

some of my favorite memories from Fuqua,

the Daring Dialogues and the Fuqua Talks.

And so just seeing Mary bring a lot of that

to life this year and pouring her heart and soul into it,

and I know impacting a lot of students through that

and helping them kind of feel seen

at Fuqua, is a huge addition to the Fuqua community.

- What really drives Mary

is making the world a more inclusive place.

And she does that by being authentic and vulnerable.

Mary is always open to talk about her disability.

And by doing that, she shares so many important lessons.

I feel very lucky to have Mary in my class.

And I became a better person and leader

because of the lessons I learned from her.

- Mary wants everyone to be treated equally and with equity.

And she wants to celebrate all the things

that makes us unique, but she also wants us

to be part of something bigger.

And I think just that thought, that feeling,

is what drives Mary to do the things that she does.

I think that Mary is someone who celebrates diversity,

but she focuses so much on inclusion

that it makes Fuqua into a community.

That's what makes Fuqua Fuqua, the sense of community.

And that's the flavor that Mary brings to the table.

- For me Team Fuqua means that we're there

for each other no matter what.

I've seen this both academically working in teams

and always being able to collaborate

and feeling like, oh my God, looking at our projects

from the beginning and seeing like,

"I don't know how we're ever going to do this,"

to the final project where it always gets done

and it always gets done well.

But also on a personal level, it has meant

that the community has always come together for me

and it has always supported me when I needed it.

And I feel like I've supported my friends

in the community as well.

So that give-and-take is something really special

that we, I think, create really organically

and it's going to be really hard

to recreate in other spaces.

I think that there's something special

about the people that come here

and the environment that we have

that nurtures that spirit of just community and unity.

(upbeat funky music)

The Description of The Asa T. Spaulding, Sr. Award for Leadership (2020) - Mary Fernandez