Leadership Opportunities Moved Student To Change Career Path

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Coming from South San Francisco High School, Emanuel “Manny” Cifuentes-Machado ’19 instantly engaged in student life at Dominican University of California as a double major in Business Administration and Communication and Media Studies.

He honed his leadership skills as a Resident Assistant, gained insight into the inner workings of higher education, while working in the Human Resources department for two years, and rubbed shoulders with celebrities, while working for the Institute for Leadership Studies (ILS) on the popular Leadership Lecture Series.

In between, Manny joined the Diversity Action Group and served two years as president of the PRIDE Club. In 2019, the PRIDE Club was named Student Organization of the Year at the annual Penguin Leadership Awards and Manny was honored as the student recipient of a Melba Beals Award for Excellence in Diversity.

But Manny believes his three-year experience in LeaderShape, an ILS summer program, was influential in his decision to pursue a career in higher education. For three summers from 2016-18 Manny was an on-site coordinator for the annual LeaderShape Institute Bay Area Consortium which Dominican, prior to the pandemic, had hosted for 12 years for student leaders from many San Francisco Bay Area colleges.

“I think what has helped me become inspired and prepared me to pursue a career in higher education was to have a healthy disregard for the impossible. This was an important lesson that I got throughout the three times I went to LeaderShape,” says Manny, who entered the Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s Program at the University of San Francisco before beginning a job in June 2021 as a Career Advisor for Business and Entrepreneurship at Willamette University in Oregon.

“In life, we are faced with various challenges and obstacles. However, we have to continue to strive so that we can make a difference within our communities," says Manny, who worked as a full-time Human Resources Expert for Target while attending USF.  "Although it may seem impossible, perceiving and asking for help when needed will ultimately work in the end. In this case, it is doing what I can to help college students, especially first generation students, feel like they are a part of a fun, loving, supportive, diverse, and an inclusive community.”



  • Defining moment at Dominican/or memory that will stay with you forever: Being honored with the Melba Beal’s Excellence in Diversity Award. This award made me feel accomplished and thankful for the opportunities/skills that I have been able to pursue throughout my time here.
  • Most inspiring professor: Dr. Denise Lucy. Through her commitment, leadership, and mentorship, I have been able to discover who I am and who I want to be after my time at Dominican.
  • Best place to study on campus: The Institute for Leadership Studies Conference Room. It is quiet and I am able to spread out on the main conference table.
  • Best place to eat off campus: Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food. I always order their Breakfast Burrito.
  • Best place to hang out in Marin: Stinson Beach, China Camp, Rodeo Beach. My go-to place to hang out with friends is Marin Headlands. Not only is it very calming, but you also get to see the beauty of the entire Bay.
  • Favorite way to spend a weekend in or near Marin: One of the great things about Marin is that it is located near San Francisco. Activities vary from going to the beach to just getting lost and exploring all of the creative arts located throughout the city.
  • Advice to a new student: Get as involved as much as you can. The only way you can truly have a fun and memorable experience is if you put yourself out there and join various student organizations. Although it may seem scary, don’t worry about it! You have great student leaders already here on campus that are here to help make your experience as enjoyable as possible

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