From WISE Exito! Program Graduate to Guest Speaker, Working Towards her Dreams

On Dec. 17, the WISE Women’s Business Center, a project of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, held its 2019 Exito! Program Graduation and Pitch Event. Exito! program graduate Diana Jaramillo served as the guest speaker and shared her personal experience with the new graduates.

Jaramillo shared with the women in attendance that their business may not come to fruition right away, but in a few years it could. She said, “Do not give up on your dreams, because life is too short and you never know what will happen, so you might as well live your wildest dreams.”

Jaramillo is living her dreams now, thanks to the Exito! program. Exito!, which translates to “success!” in Spanish, is a six-week course created by the WISE Women’s Business Center. Specifically tailored for women in the Latina community who intend to launch or expand a business, accommodations for child care are even provided.

The Exito! program offers participants a six workshop series that uses a combination of on-line learning, guided discussion, individual tutoring and guest experts to help participants develop a plausible business plan. Specifically tailored for women in the Latina community who intend to launch or expand a business, the program is offered in English and Spanish, and accommodations for child care are provided.

Exito! 1 is offered to women who are in the brainstorming stages of creating their own business. Women work to narrow ideas and create a business plan. In Exito! 2, women are expected to utilize their business plan and work on the logistics of their company, such as creating budgets and making projections. 

The online portion of the course is held on DreamBuilder, an educational business planning tool. In addition to online courses, the women attend in-person class sessions and take part in roundtable discussions led by Marisol Hernandez, editor in chief at CNY Latino and Kathy Adams, principal at Cognitif Consulting Group. One of the final goals of the Exito! program is that participants can articulate their business pitch within five minutes. 

Overcoming Barriers, Becoming an Entrepreneur

Jaramillo was born in Ecuador and educated in Syracuse. She moved here when she was 14-years-old alongside her mother who was earning her master’s degree and a Ph.D. Jaramillo recalls that she had to overcome many barriers that immigrants are faced with, such as culture shock and a language barrier.

At the time of starting the first program, Jaramillo was working as a full-time architect, earning a master’s degree in sustainable construction management at SUNY ESF, taking care of her daughter and making time to attend Exito classes.

After earning her associate degree in architecture at Onondaga Community College, Jaramillo continued her education and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Syracuse University School of Architecture. She currently teaches in the Architecture and Interior Design programs at Onondaga Community College.

Jaramillo is an experienced architect in the Central New York area, who did not always have the intentions to open her own business. She believed she would follow the traditional path of working in an architecture firm and climbing the ladder to becoming a partner. However, as her daughter approached school age, she realized it would be nice to have more flexibility in her schedule. 

Completing Exito one in the summer of 2017 is exactly the push she needed to plunge into beginning her own architecture business, Kin Studio. “Taking a leap of faith, and being confident in yourself is really hard,” Jaramillo says. 

Jaramillo suggests that other Latina and Hispanic women take advantage of the program. She shares, “I highly recommend the Exito! program, even if you have no idea what you want to do, and even if you know exactly what you want to do. Everyone benefits from it.”

Jaramillo completed Exito two in 2018, as she continued to enhance her business plan. She recalls crying at her graduation as the speaker instructed the women to close their eyes and envision their futures. Jaramillo shares that at that moment she could see everything so clearly. 

“Embrace the unknown,” Jaramillo advises. She believes it is crucial to always look for the silver lining in all the challenges that life throws at you. 

Jaramillo’s business, Kin Studio, is the only female Latina owned architecture studio in Syracuse. She chose the name kin because it means a group of close people or family. She adds, “No building gets done by one person, it’s a very collaborative process with a lot of people.”

In addition to being an architect, Jaramillo strives to support sustainability, diversity, and equity in her practice. She is a member of the American Institute of Architects and serves on a subcommittee, Women in Design, with the intention of fostering diversity and equity within the design industry.

Learn more about the WISE Women’s Business Center and the programs that are offered to the Syracuse community.

Maya Bingaman
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