As a fellow, coming into an established organization, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t vital to the operations of my host company. Yes, I was confident in the skills I’ve built through previous jobs, and in the knowledge I’ve acquired to put into practice, but part of me was convinced that I wouldn’t make that big of a difference. It wasn’t until a recent department meeting.

I was sitting at a long conference table, 28 floors high, in downtown Chicago, amongst colleagues in my department, coming from offices across the US, when the president began calling out accomplishments & strengths of several members. At first, I assumed he was simply highlighting successes of those who were running several projects, or gained recent accolades. Then, I realized that he actually took the time to list unique qualities among each of us in the department. I grew anxious, wondering what he would say about me.

A slight pause; I look up, and see the president making eye contact with me, as he says, “next is my friend, Zienab”. Surprised with my introduction, I replied “we’re really friends?”. I instantly thought of all the generic qualities he could choose from, and I was certain that he would say a few only to make me feel special, being the new fellow.  To my surprise, I listened to him highlight my character, how my positive attitude boosts office moral, and how I added a light energy. He thanked me for the candy and excessive decorations on my desk, and he proceeded to the next person.

I’m just beginning, I’m still learning, but my value will never diminish or lessen, and it’s clear I’ve already made a difference, no matter how small. I’m 1 in 100, but I’m 1 that completes the 100.