Tag Archives: Woodbury University

Speaking At My Alma Mater | Woodbury University

Photo courtesy of Woodbury University

Photo courtesy of Woodbury University

On Saturday, October 18th, I was asked to speak about my time at Woodbury University, during my school’s 130th Anniversary celebration.  I attended Woodbury for both my undergrad and graduate degrees and loved every minute I spent there.   I can’t imagine having gone to any other University.

I’m a big supporter of my Alma Mater and agreed whole heartedly to tell my Woodbury story.  I wanted to share my speech with you today.

“I remember when I discovered Woodbury University.

I was 17 years old looking at this gigantic book listing colleges across the country. I finally found Woodbury at the end of the California section and told myself, “I’m going there.”

Woodbury had everything I was looking for. Small class sizes, excellent academic programs, and was only an hour away from home.

My freshman year here was like that of any other student. I made friends, went to class, pulled my hair out during finals and when it was over, breathed a sigh of relief that I made it through my first year of college.

When my mom unexpectedly passed away during my sophomore year, I wasn’t sure I could continue, but somehow I did with the help of the wonderful people who study and work at Woodbury.

During the most difficult time in my life, at a time when I felt like giving up, I found comfort at Woodbury. My peers, my professors, and my co-workers helped me move forward and reminded me that I need to continue working towards a better, brighter future for myself. The people at Woodbury became my family and Woodbury became a home away from home.

Woodbury means much more than a diploma I can hang on my wall.

I found myself here.

I discovered untapped potential in myself and developed in things I was most passionate about.

I become more confident and wasn’t afraid to take a few risks.

I owe that to Woodbury University. I owe that to my Woodbury family.

I’m so proud to have attended such a wonderful University, for both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and credit my success to everything I learned here.

I look forward to what my future holds and I know Woodbury will have prepared me for it.”

Student Spotlight: Jacob Fuertes

Every student has a story.  Even a campus as small as Woodbury University has a diverse background with students from different countries and cities.  Some students are from Italy while others grew up five minutes away.  The point is everyone is different, but everyone also has the same thing in common…they are working towards their education.

I want to put the spotlight on current students with differing backgrounds.  My first interview is with Jacob Fuertes, a Woodbury University graphic design student.  I met Jacob in February of 2012 when I was interviewing him for a position with the Woodbury University Phon-A-Thon.  I instantly knew that he would be a great addition to the team with his great work ethic and energetic personality.

The Pacoima native is currently in his second year of the graphic design program at Woodbury University and he agreed to answer a few of my questions about being a college student.

Q: What do you like most about Woodbury University?

What I like about Woodbury University would have to be the size of the campus.  The reason for that is a student fresh out of high school it’s easier to cope with the transfer from high school to college due to the size and not becoming overwhelmed.

Q: Do you work? If so, tell me about your job(s)?

Due to my hectic class hours it became hard for me to find a job out side of school. However, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful job on campus with the Phon-A-Thon with great people!=)

Q: What is it like being a full-time student and working?

Well at times it can become very overwhelming, for me the days would begin to blend together, but thanks to the support of family and loved ones it made it easier to keep a leveled head.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation I know most of my classmates will continue on with there education, but for me that is the moment I start my life as a true adult. Meaning finding work and leaving my mark in the world every where I go.

Q: What is your most memorable moment at Woodbury?

The most memorable would be my first day at Woodbury because I remember I was running late and was scared of making a bad impression the first day. So like a freshman I was running all over campus not knowing where the classroom was until I ran into a student from SOAR and he pointed me to right direction.

Q: What was you favorite class and why?

So far I would say Digital Practice.  The reason for that is because it gave me an idea of the different programs that I would be using in my major.  Plus we had a really cool teacher (Brian Herbberts).

Q: What are the goals you have from now until graduation?

My goals is to keep my grade point average up because with that I receive a grant from the school. Also to make great friends and making those connections that might come in handy in the future.

Q: Where do you want to be in 10 years?

Hmm in 10yrs. I hope I have a great job and a house of my own, but honestly I’m not completely sure.  When I get there I’ll let you know=)

Q: What advice do you have for incoming college students?

My only advise would be hit the ground running, give 100% of your effort and you will get 100% in return. Keep in mind no one can make it in life with out an education!! Also if money is tight try to finish general ed. or classes at community colleges, but do it a month before summer break so you the best chance in getting in.
Jacob is an amazing student and I am really glad I had the chance to work with him in the spring.  I truly believe that he will do great things in the future and during his time at Woodbury. 🙂
Please let me know about your college experience or if you would like to be interviewed for my blog.  Thank you again Jacob!!!

Embarrassing College Moments

We have all been there. Most students are in college for a least four years and there has to be a few embarrassing moments in there. I am no different. There have been several embarrassing moments for me and I am going to share 3 of them.

Volunteering for the Hypnotist Show

My first year at Woodbury University, I lived on campus and wanted to try as many new things as I could. There was an event that my roommate and I decided we would go to. A hypnotist show.

The hypnotist comes in and introduces himself. He then asks for volunteers. Surprisingly I volunteered. When I was in high school, I probably would not have volunteered for something like this. But like I said, I was going to try new things in college. I volunteered and I was fully aware of what I was doing, but it was like I didn’t care and did it anyway.

I was dancing funny, did a cat walk, and overall showed a different side of myself to people I barely knew. It was embarrassing, but fun at the same time. Watching the video always makes me laugh. You can see me there in the yellow shirt.

First Architecture Review

In my first year of college, I majored in architecture. It was the end of the first semester and I was finishing up my final project for review. This would be the first review where guests were brought in to look at everyone’s projects. The project consisted of being assigned some sort of object, mine was an electrical device. Then using wood we had to build something incorporating the objects.

I like to design things that are symmetrical, so that’s what my project was about. Symmetry. Reviews can go in so many different directions. One reviewer may love your project, while another hates it. It just so happens that the Dean of Architecture was at our review and he came up to my project and looked at it.

I explained my project and idea. Silence. Then he said that he didn’t like it. So embarrassing considering that there were other students around, professors, and guest reviewers. Nothing was more embarrassing in architecture than having the Dean say he didn’t like my project. But I survived and didn’t change the way I like to design.

Ranch Dressing

My friend and I were getting lunch during the rush hour at Woodbury’s cafeteria. I got my usual. Turkey sandwich and fries. My friend got his usual as well including his ranch dressing. We were walking with our food outside and I was leading the way. I get to the door, open it, and start to walk outside when my friend trips.

He tripped and the ranch dressing fell to the ground splattering all over including the back of my leg. Good thing I was wearing jeans, but this was still embarrassing with all the people sitting outside eating their lunch.

There have been several other embarrassing moments for me throughout college. But I wanted to share a few. If I shared all of them, I would end up writing a book. The key to getting over embarrassing moments is to laugh at yourself. Don’t let it get to you in a negative way.

Tell me about some of your embarrassing college moments in the comments.

23 Birthday Goals

Today is my 23 birthday.  I have received many birthday wishes from so many people and could not be more appreciative.  However, when my birthday comes up I tend to think about where my life is going to be in a year, 3 years, 5 years, and even 20 years.  I cannot control what will happen in my coming years, but I have created a list of 23 goals that I want to achieve sometime in the future.  Some of these goals are short-term, while others are definitely long-term.  Not matter how long it will take to achieve these goals, I am determined to accomplish them.

Here they are:

  1. Get a new car
  2. Get toned
  3. Get a new swim suit(s)
  4. Try sushi
  5. Get a new computer
  6. Travel
  7. Hike to upper Yosemite falls
  8. Read all the Nicolas Sparks and Mary Higgins Clark books
  9. Run a full marathon
  10. Graduate from the Woodbury University MBA program
  11. Finish my book
  12. Start my retail business
  13. Expand my business consulting services
  14. Pay off my student loans
  15. Get my own place
  16. Buy a house
  17. Get married
  18. Get my Ph.D
  19. Have children
  20. Teach entrepreneurship at a university
  21. Save up enough money to pay for my youngest sister’s college tuition
  22. Expand my philanthropy for my Alma Mater Woodbury University and other non-profit organizations
  23. Create a scholarship fund for students who have lost a parent from prescription drug addiction

I encourage everyone to create their own list of goals and try to accomplish them!  It doesn’t matter how crazy your goals seem, if you work hard enough it is possible to achieve them.

Please tell me about some of your goals in the comments.  Would love to hear what others want to accomplish.

The Winning Scholarship Essay

Earlier this year, I set out to apply for the Woodbury University MBA Association Scholarship Contest. They would choose a total of three prize winners, one who received $1000 and the other two $500 each. The only requirement of this contest was to answer a simple question in 5oo words or less. The question was, How has your experience so far in the Woodbury University MBA program changed you as a person? I applied and as it turns out I was able to snag one of the $500 scholarships.

I would encourage all college students to take advantage of any and all scholarship contests that they qualify for. The more scholarship funds you have, the less student loan debt you have to pay off in the future. The follow is my winning scholarship essay:

Woodbury University MBA Program Scholarship Essay

By Danielle E. Miller

When I graduate from the Woodbury University MBA program, I will be the first in my family to do so. I will be the first child my father gets to see walk across the stage to receive a graduate degree and my hope is that I will not be the last. I want to show my siblings that they can do anything if they set their minds to it and perhaps one day they too will walk across a stage to receive their first Master’s degree. As the oldest, I feel the need to set an example for them and getting my MBA degree is doing just that. I can tell them that I learned how to market a business through social media because of what I learned in the program. I can tell them that the writing skills I have gained help me write articles for my personal blog and as a marketing intern at work. I can tell them that I will be starting my own business based on the lessons I learned in my marketing, finance, economics, and entrepreneurship courses. I can ultimately tell my siblings that getting this degree will enable me to have the life our mother could not give us. It gives us a life that does not involve scrapping for change to buy food, getting hand-me-down clothes, or worrying about losing our home. Ultimately, this program will give me a better life than what I had growing up.

With this degree I will be able to step out into the business world prepared to take on any challenges I may face. But the question remains, has the Woodbury University MBA program changed me as a person? I would have to say it has. I have become a more confident person and more confident in what I believe in. I feel as though I can do anything. I am not afraid to voice my own opinions and stand up for what I am passionate about, even if others do not agree with it. I have been able to use what I have learned at my job and I have actually started planning a marketing strategy for the book I am writing. Coming straight from the undergraduate program at Woodbury University, I assumed everything would just be review for me. In actuality, I am applying what I have learned as an undergraduate in the MBA program.

I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. In this chapter, I will have my Master’s of Business Administration degree from Woodbury University and I will show everyone that no matter where you come from and no matter how much money you have, it can be done. In this next chapter, I will be the person my siblings look up to. I will be the person they can come to for advice, for guidance, and for inspiration. Because of the MBA degree my life will be exactly how I dreamed it would be.

Presentation Techniques

As a college student and entrepreneur, you want to take the necessary steps to improve your presentation techniques.  This will help ensure a better grade in class and/or a potential investment in your business.  Being a college student and aspiring entrepreneur myself, I have learned several techniques that have made my presentations more impactful for the audience.  I have primarily used the guidelines that one of my professors at Woodbury University gave his students, which are as follows:

Structure of your presentation

  1. Start with a hook to get the audience interested.
  2. Introduce yourself, teammate, and topic.
  3. Don’t do a standard “I’m going to talk about Main Point 1, Main Point 2, Main Point 3.” It’s boring. It’s ok to showcase in an interesting way what you’ll be talking about, but it should feel natural.
  4. Have an actual conclusion. Wrap up with a summary statement and give some sort of high-level application/conclusion/broad-impact statement.
  5. Say ‘thank you’ or ask for questions, not ‘well, that’s all I have!’


  • Don’t end sentences with a question.
  • Be loud enough so that the person in the back of the room can hear you.
  • Don’t use filler words like ‘umn’ — remain silent instead.
  • Breath between each sentence.
  • Use short sentences.
  • Leave a longer pause between main points.


  • Sound like you’re happy to be presenting.
  • Smile!


  • Stand with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Don’t shift your weight back & forth.
  • Shoulders back.
  • Hands down at your side when not gesturing.
  • Move between points. Take at least 3 steps.
  • Move around the room. Don’t worry about the camera. Don’t worry about standing in front of the slides.

Engagement with Audience

  • Make 2-3 second eye contact with each member of your audience.
  • Look at them until you feel engaged/connected, and then move on.


  • Do not read your slides or notes! The best way to do this is to ensure that you can’t read the slides by only putting up critical information/fragments/nouns. Do not put full sentences on your slides.
  • Put big ideas on your notes (if you *must* use them). Don’t put the same thing on your notes as it on the screen.
  • Do *not* write out an entire speech.
  • Be careful about looking at your presentation on the screen. Make sure you’re primarily looking at the audience, and not cycling back & forth.

My advice is that you should practice your presentation several times in front of people you know.  Ask these people to give you constructive feedback to help you make your presentation better.  I have also found that recording myself on a video camera is helpful in order to see exactly what I need to work on.  From watching my presentations first hand, I was able to see that I played with my hair a lot which can be very distracting to the audience; since then I have corrected that.


  • Big gestures are calming
  • Little gestures are nervous
  • Don’t do the ‘chipmunk with a nut’ posture of holding your hands in front.


  • Use as a guideline no more than 6 points on a slide, with at most 6 words per line. E.g., 6×6 Rule.
  • Do not rely on the audience to read your presentation. They should be focusing on you, and not your slides. Slides are a supplemental feature. Visual elements are good *if* they support your point.
  • Don’t rely on videos too much, we’re here to listen to you!
  • Slides should use readable font size and color. Projects usually wash out the colors, so be sure to have high contrast artwork/font.
  • Don’t use the progressive reveal. You almost always end up clicking, clicking, clicking, and then talking. There are occasionally good times to use this feature, but only use it if it’s important that your audience see elements at a specific time.
  • Don’t use animations unless they’re directly related to the point you’re trying to make.
  • Spellcheck!

While I was an undergraduate student, I took an Information Technology course and made a presentation on the book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh.  I received a perfect score for my overall PowerPoint style.  I have included some of the slides here for you reference:

As you can see, I did not put long paragraphs in my presentation.  I instead used a lot of graphics and very few words to illustrate a point.  I wanted my audience to be listening to what each point meant as well as make my presentation more eye-catching and interesting.  I also added a timeline of relevant events that happened in the book.  These types of additions can increase the interest your audience has with the content.


  • Take up the available time, but don’t go over. A good rule of thumb is that if you have a 10 minute presentation, you should aim for 9 minutes in practice. You’ll probably talk faster in the actual presentation. You shouldn’t be shorter than 8 minutes.


I know from experience that this is a lot to think about during a presentation.  Honestly, you will never get it right every time, but practicing always makes perfect.  I have had to work on a lot in my presentations such as my voice which includes my volume, quality, and breathing.  I have also worked on my transitional movements between main points.  Now, if I think back to my presenting techniques during my first year in college to my presenting techniques today, it seems like I am a completely different person. My presentations are more effective now and I am more confident during them.

It is always a good idea to improve your presenting skills.  It helps you get your point across more effectively during class.  If you are pitching a business idea to an investor it will show them that you are well prepared and they will take you more seriously.  These presentation techniques can be used for anything, not just for class or to pitch a business idea; they can be used in any presentation setting.

%d bloggers like this: