First-generation student and fearless leader; a head for business and a heart for community; fraternity brother and focused communicator; mentee and mentor; embracing diversity and empowering others; inspired and inspiring. Already exhibiting a myriad of defining traits, Leandro Jaime ’16 is just beginning the journey to realizing his potential.

Valpo students are not defined by a single interest, but are challenged to expand their minds in academic pursuits, their hearts in service, and to explore their individual passions. Last year, in his state of the university address, President Heckler focused on the simple word “and.” Citing “Leadership and Service. Faith and Learning. Passion and Purpose.,” President Heckler acknowledged that at Valparaiso University, we have “unleashed the power of ‘and’.”

On Feb. 24, 2016, Valpo will host its inaugural TEDx event centered around that very concept — “the power of &.” Leandro serves as chair of the sponsorship and finance committee and raised $10,000, the maximum amount permitted for a first time event. Excited to bring this remarkable experience to Valpo, Leandro anticipates the event drawing the community together and sparking conversation about original, inspiring ideas.

Fully engaged since he stepped foot on the Valpo campus, Leandro is a business administration and finance major, member of Lambda Chi Alpha, SMART connections peer mentor, LIVE member, vice president of the Financial Management Association, and lead student ambassador at the Career Center. At Valpo, Leandro has expanded his knowledge and skills through a variety of pursuits outside the traditional academic setting. He has gained experience in business, developed leadership skills, learned the value of collaboration, and perhaps most importantly, he has been mentored to forge his own path — to find “the power of and” within himself.

“Leandro wonderfully exemplifies the combination of leadership and service, a combination that is much greater than its parts,” says Jon Bull, assistant professor of library services. “His approach to service is incomplete without confidence. For Leandro, the ‘Power of &’ means a distinctive way of being a leader, one where his supporters in the Valpo community lead him almost as much as he leads them.”

He was the ideal candidate for the TEDx chairmanship not only because of his interest and academic knowledge, but due to his experience. As Leandro acknowledges, “running organizations isn’t something new to me, thanks to Valpo and all the experiences I’ve been exposed to here.”

“I was excited to infuse the TEDx brand, which carries a certain weight, with the name of Valparaiso University,” says Leandro. “This was yet another opportunity for me to get involved at Valpo, to gain experience leading a project, and to bring attention to our unique campus.”

Armed with little more than the event’s theme — ”The Power of &” — Leandro was tasked with the integral role of attracting sponsors. At first a daunting endeavor, he leaned on the event’s theme for support to attract campus organizations as sponsors, highlighting how the TEDx topic relates to their values. He recognized that “and” is at work all around Valpo through opportunities such as internships, research projects, Study Abroad trips, and service work.

For Leandro, “the power of and” means, “You’re more than the career you choose as you have a variety of other interests and passions. I may be a finance student who’s interested in investment banking, but that doesn’t mean I’m not also interested in nurturing others, sharing my experiences, community service, … the list goes on. There’s a lot of diversity you can have in your life, and it’s not limited by your title, where you’re from, your skin color, or anything at all.”

This experience reinforced Leandro’s resolve to one day run an organization of his own. He honed his marketing and sales skills, developed as a leader, strategized in collaboration with fellow students and faculty advisors, and learned the importance of being passionate about his work.

“Like so many of my experiences here at Valpo, my role as the TEDx sponsorship and finance committee chair will definitely benefit my future career,” says Leandro. “Valpo has taught me about the importance of having social responsibility. Wherever my career takes me in the future, I will remember that there’s always something I can do for the community.”

While Leandro expresses a true appreciation for his Valpo experience, he continues to give back. The drive and passion he brings to the campus community will be felt wherever his path may lead.