Born and raised in the low-income community of South-Central Los Angeles to Guatemalan immigrant parents, Jaime Carias understands the challenges of being a first-generation student.
As the keynote speaker at Kansas State University’s 13th Annual Midwest Hispanic American Leadership Organization Encuentro (HALO), Carias shared his experiences navigating college with hundreds of students endeavoring to reach academic success. Through a series of breakout sessions, the conference focused on empowerment, identity, and preparing for college.
As a fellow at the Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, Carias led a workshop aimed at teaching five critical soft skills for success: Adaptability, Cultural Competency, Empathy, Intellectual Curiosity, and 360-Degree Thinking. While these skills may seem commonplace, Carias, says they are often overlooked and underutilized. “Many students have learned these skills growing up, but what they’re lacking is the ability to translate that skillset to a professional setting. What we’re trying to do is teach students to adapt concepts like street smarts and apply them to the workplace.”
In an article published by The Crusader, freshman Luis Jimenez reflected on the event. “During these workshops, we learned how to be a better leader, how to speak professionally, how to dress and how to talk to people respectively as a leader.”
Carias says the conference’s emphasis on soft skill development is representative of a growing, global demand for communication-driven thinking. “The research shows that traditional training is not enough to maintain a competitive edge in today’s ever-changing world. The work we do at the Center for Third Space Thinking shows that interpersonal, communications and leadership soft skills are critical to cultivating organizational success in the future global economy.”