College of Business > News & Events > “Portraits in Resilience” From the Driehaus College of Business
By Nadia Alfadel Coloma /
March 2, 2021 /
Posted in: Students, Faculty /
This March marks one year since the Coronavirus pandemic dramatically and abruptly altered our lives. The challenges, losses, successes and opportunities over the past year have etched deep impressions on all of us at DePaul and the Driehaus College of Business, as we’ve striven to take care of ourselves and one another.
In this first installment of our new “Portraits in Resilience” series, we’ve asked our business college students, faculty and staff to share how they’ve persevered through the challenges of the pandemic, what they’ve learned and who has helped them along the way.
What follows are four of many portraits we’ll share over the next few months. We hope these faces and thoughts from our community illuminate how much we have endured together—though we’ve been physically apart—and how much we have grown in wisdom and resilience to keep pushing forward.
One thing I’ve learned this year is just how creative we can be. We are in the midst of a massive shift in how companies and universities work and communicate. We really can pull off great virtual events and activities within our community with little notice and minimal resources.
One thing I’ve appreciated seeing this year is the open dialogue and conversations about race in this country and specifically, in the workplace. I think before the pandemic some people lived through silos and hushed conversations to not “rock the boat” and keep the peace. But this year has shown that all of us – whether parents, veterans, people of color, people with disabilities – should be given a voice on issues that are important to us.
There have been so many people that have helped me navigate these challenging times, but I have to give a Zoom clap emoji to James Moore [director of online learning at the business college]. James and his team have been extremely patient showing me the in’s and outs of technology platforms we have access to here at DePaul. He’s been a secret weapon for me during these virtual times!
One of the biggest things I learned this past year is that it is OK to not be OK—to take a step back and relax. I was constantly wondering if I was doing enough even in a virtual environment and being a new student, since I started at Kellstadt in March 2020. It took me a while to realize that myself and everyone I interact with is just trying to do the best that we all can. As long as I feel like I am putting enough effort into my work and making new connections and learning every single day, that is what I think it means to be successful.
The online experience as an international student has had its challenges. Building and maintaining both personal and professional relationships has been one of my biggest challenges, especially when everyone is experiencing the pandemic in a different way. I had a culture shock with how academia is different from what I had experienced in Curaçao, an island in the Caribbean where I’m from, but it is all about adapting to a new learning environment. Being proactive with reaching out to professors or to advisors in Kellstadt has really made a difference for me.
My advisors, Erin Warns and Adrienne Corona, have been such a major part of my experience at Kellstadt. They have not only helped me with career and academic advice, they are always willing to jump on a quick call or do a coffee chat to just check-in. I think that is pretty remarkable in an advisor. Taking the time to make sure their students are okay. Even if I didn't get a job offer, I would get messages of encouragement from both to not give up and that really helped me.
As many can relate, my world took a 180-degree turn when this pandemic started. I had to move back home to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, after I was just beginning to feel like my life was in Chicago. I found it really challenging to embrace the remote world that many of us had been thrown into and adapt to these new circumstances. I was growing personally and professionally through different organizations I was becoming active in and it felt like it was coming to an abrupt stop.
I joined Delta Sigma Pi and through the past year they have continuously found ways to make me feel connected. Whether through text messages to check in on me or Zoom Trivia Nights to wrap up our busy days, they provided me with a sense of community and belonging through the challenges we were all facing.
Throughout this year I have learned the importance of checking in on the people in my life and finding ways to stay connected. Although being stuck at home may not have been most ideal, it allowed me to take time for myself and check in on how I was truly doing. Before this experience, my life moved at such a fast pace that I would oftentimes forget to take time for myself.
This past year has taught me a lot about letting go of things I cannot control. It took me several months into the pandemic until I found a rhythm and routine that allowed me to regain some sense of control in a world where so much of what was happening was not within my control. I had to reset expectations with myself, my colleagues and my students.
Along those lines, this situation has forced me to prioritize in ways I never had to before. I’ve had to make clear choices about when to put work first, family first and when to put myself first. That process took a lot of time to unwire my natural inclinations to be everything to everyone at all times, especially through my biggest challenge of figuring out how to balance work with caring for my children – ages six and one – while still trying to find some joy amidst what has been a time of sorrow for so many.
I have learned more than ever the power of gratitude and compassion. Showing kindness to others is sometimes the best gift we can offer when comforting someone in person is just not possible right now. This compassion is also something I’ve tried to show to myself too – it is hard to be your best self to others when you aren’t taking the time to care for yourself. My students and their stories and struggles are also a daily reminder of the lives we have the ability to positively impact, and of the power I have to treat others with compassion and kindness.
Follow along on our
@depaulbiz Instagram account and the
Kellstadt Graduate School of Business Facebook page to see more portraits in the coming months.
Are you a DePaul business student, faculty or staff member or alumnus interested in sharing a portrait in resilience? Email Nadia Alfadel Coloma at