Meet Zulma Johnson - Class of 2023

Each newsletter we like to provide an introduction to one of the current year’s class members. In this issue, Valerie Weber (Class of 2020) interviews Zulma Johnson, Accounting and Business Services Associate at Chautauqua Works.

Valerie Weber:  So congrats, you’re in the class of ‘23!

Zulma Johnson:  Yes, yes.

VW:  So, how have you been liking it so far?

ZJ:  I’ve been liking it. It can be challenging at times but it’s been enjoyable. It’s been a discovery for me, I guess you could say. I’m learning new things like last week’s session, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed asset discovery, and now we’re doing our project for that. I’m learning more about myself. I’m learning more about the community, doing a lot of networking, that’s for sure.

VW: I think people are surprised because they think it’s going to be all leadership, but there’s a whole lot more networking to it than you expect. And I found out I actually did more networking after I made it through my year than I did during the year that I was in the class (of course, it was a weird year for us – we were 2020, so everything was virtual).

Has anything surprised you so far?

ZJ: What really surprised me was the CliftonStrengths – it was dead on, and that really shocked me. Empathy was one of them. I’m an achiever. I didn’t have any leadership qualities when I took that, and I really agreed with it because I’m more of a person that gives and listens. I’m in HR so that didn’t surprise me, but it shocked me because that test was just so right.

VW:  That’s good! What’s been your favorite part?

ZJ:  The networking part, I would say that’s my favorite. I like meeting people, the classmates, you get to really know them one-on-one and you look forward to seeing them, making friends with them on Facebook, finding out about their families and stuff, you know. Like today, I posted my daughter’s birthday and, you know, they’re saying, happy birthday to her, posting happy birthday to her, so that’s nice.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the teams doing things together. That’s one of the things I really enjoyed, the team bonding.

VW:  Yeah. So how does this year’s project work? I know it was different from other years.

ZJ:  It’s asset discovery this year, which is something I really enjoy. We chose an organization here, the Chautauqua Center, what it is to the community and what it does for the community. I think we chose a good one – it’s growing, and it offers so much.

VW:  Good. Our project was that we had to come up with a plan to solve one problem or to help alleviate that issue in the county.  It was really interesting, I think. The group that did theirs on poverty was really good and did some thought-provoking things. They had us use an app to take a test to see how you would survive on a poverty-level budget. It would say: “Your kid needs this for a field trip. Do you choose to get groceries this week or put gas in your car or send the kid on the field trip? So it was really thought-provoking and interesting.

ZJ:  Sounds like mine’s easier!

VW:  Yes! But we learned so much, and working with each group was great. We ended up doing a video for ours about transportation issues, the lack of public transportation, and how to possibly help fix the areas where there are gaps. So it was a really fun project, but it was the first time they’d done one with an actual issue. They were always theoretical before our year. And then I think they’ve done something different every year since.  So yours, the discovery, I think it’s good they’re trying new things every year. I think the group that’s been doing the the classes and such is really done a great job.

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