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April 2010 YP Connections: YP Q&A


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Each month metroMAGAZINE, in cooperation with The Greater Omaha Young Professionals, polls a group of "YPs" to obtain a brief glimpse into their lives and their insights on our community. Following are the answers which were provided to this months' Q&A.



Caley Piper

Resource Generalist, American Red Cross.
Age 22

I have fortunately been surrounded by many individuals who have supported me as I developed both personally and professionally over the past few years. My parents, Jim and Debbie, were very eager to see me graduate with my Bachelor’s degree and their anticipation of that day gave me great motivation through my four years of undergraduate study. They were also always there to give me encouragement when I needed that extra push to persevere through my many papers and extensive projects. In my search for a good career fit, the best value that my parents instilled in me was to focus on finding a job that made me happy to be present at each day and one in which I could reach out to the community, rather than focus on the amount of money that I was making.

The person who has been my biggest mentor professionally is one of my professors at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Dr. Ana Cruz. She was constantly available to give me whatever career choice advice I was seeking, and was a great asset to helping me improve my resume and interviewing skills. She still continues to go the extra mile, making herself accessible for advice that I seek even now that I have graduated from UNO.

I am thankful for the great support that I have gained from these individuals and look forward to more of their encouragement as I continue to develop as a young professional


Elsa Cotto

Program Assistant, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
Age: 23

As a senior in high school, I was lucky enough to be recruited to INROADS, a minority internship program, and that is how I met my professional mentor, Ashira Jones.

She guided me through all of the transitions I faced, from graduating high school to the three professional internships I had while I was in college. She showed me the importance of having a good work-life balance and building relationships through networking. She was such a blessing and as time went on, whenever I faced a personal or professional dilemma I began to think, “What would Ashira do?”

Now that I have graduated college and am in my first full-time job, I continue to stay in contact with Ms. Jones. Though she is no longer affiliated with the INROADS program I still look to her as a role model as a young, professional minority woman.


Shannon Hite

Vice President, Customer Contact Center, Mutual of Omaha
Age 29

Professionally, I am fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible network of leaders at Mutual of Omaha.  One of my mentors whom I have had the fortune of working with for quite some time has always helped me to see the potential in myself, even when I don’t.  This has pushed me to new limits and created wonderful opportunities.  She has been a champion for me and really helped me develop a style of leadership I am comfortable with and proud of.  My dad has also been a wonderful business mentor to me… once I outgrew the stage of thinking he knew nothing!  He was challenged as a young professional to take on responsibilities out of his comfort zone.  He always reminds me of the value those situations afforded him in his career in terms of the relationships formed, the lessons learned, and the growth he sustained. 

Personally, I am also surrounded by many amazing women who are daily inspirations to me for the kind of person I strive to be.  They have helped me see the importance in work/life balance and have also played an important role in helping me carve out the paths I have taken in community service. 


Lonnie Michael Jr.

Large Business Quality Manager, Infogroup 
Age: 28

My life’s greatest mentors have been my parents.  I could not be effective each day without the strong foundation they’ve laid for me.  Before my dad lost his battle to cancer two years ago, he instilled in me the significance of relationships & communicating.  Those who are good at communication know the importance of listening first, then responding when needed.  Those lessons have helped me understand the world around me, and how to connect with a diversity of people.  My mom has taught me that a fulfilled life is living for the journey and not for the moment.  I attribute much of my personal growth to her insightful wisdom and remarkable example.  I’ve been blessed to have great mentors around me throughout my life.  Whether it be relationships with business or community leaders, like the old proverb says “it takes a village to raise a child.”  Throughout my life, I’ve been surrounded by many great people while growing up in Omaha.   All of them have deposited their wisdom and time in developing me into a young professional. 


Kristine Hull

Controller, Omaha Performing Arts
Age: 28

I’m fortunate to have many mentors across several fields, from academia to corporate and non-profit work. It’s an honor to have access to these successful individuals - committed to their community, passionate about what they do, and willing to share what they've learned. One of my mentors, who I first met in graduate school, likes to say that the way you allocate your time should be in tune with your core values and your moral compass. This advice has helped me balance my various roles – in my career, while doing service, and maintaining relationships with friends and family. Ultimately, this and other insights I’ve gained from mentor relationships, have been invaluable to me and give me the inspiration to make a difference in my community. It would be an honor one day to become an encouraging mentor, myself!

-end- metroMAGAZINE

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