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Hilary Corna, one dare at a time

By Spencer Harry

“Campaign for yourself. Give yourself a voice.”

Hilary Corna, motivational speaker and author of “One White Face,” spoke about her professional experiences and her personal success in the Asian Pacific in the Forum Wednesday night.

Corna knew at an early age that nobody was going to help her achieve what she wanted to do in life, she encouraged students to be more daring. She said she’s always been adamant about doing whatever it is she finds that she wants to do, not letting someone else tell her what path to take.

Corna’s explained that she holds a love of Japanese culture, which came from her mother, who lived there for seven years. She said that, in school, she despised learning Spanish, and instead preferred Japanese.

“People tend to do well in the things they enjoy doing,” Corna said.

Freshman year of college, she picked up her Drst Japanese class. She excelled in it, and succeeded in her first daring act.

The triumph over this first personal challenge made Corna hopeful about her next one – interning abroad. She got the chance to study abroad where she made business contacts and received an internship opportunity to work for a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo at the age of twenty.

Her second dare was not as fruitful as her first one, Corna said.

“Unfortunately, all dares are not successful,” she said.

Her dilemma lied back home in America. Her boyfriend of three years, the first love of her life, gave her an ultimatum – him or the job.

“I gave up the job and went for the boyfriend,” she said.

The relationship, however, ended up with her dumping him and determining to get her opportunity back. The third dare she embarked on was a modified version of the second – launching her international career. She decided to try again. The only thing she had to do was get there.

“The universe always comes back to dare you,” said Corna. She decided to fly to Singapore on a one- way ticket with $2,000 in her pocket and a two-month time limit for herself. She stayed with a family friend, where, about three weeks in, by pure luck, she met the most successful Toyota dealership owner in Tokyo, who had one job available in his department. Her dream had come true.

Despite forces working against her to succeed, and people telling her to give up, Corna was able to plant an idea in her head and make it grow.

Corna was placed in Toyota’s Philippines office. Needless to say, she was nervous. A new country she’d never lived in, a new culture she had never spent time around and a new job with people she didn’t know would make any young adult fresh out of college shake in their boots. But her determination turned out to be a stronger motivating factor.

Corna’s bosses identified her as “the one white face in the company.” Intimidated, but not discouraged, she took this as inspiration. She saw their harsh words not as deterrence, but as a way to challenge her. She realized from that point forward she wasn’t going to be handed anything at her new job – she would have to prove herself every step of the way.

Self motivation has been key to Corna, who explained, “It’s always in our own head – it’s always ourselves that hold us back from being our best.”

Corna ended her presentation by daring students to stand up and announce their number one goals in life. One by one, students shared their goals on stage, nervously, but firmly. Jenna Papotto, a senior English major, said her goal is to someday teach abroad. Marisa Belculfine, a senior art major, said her dream is to travel around the world. Lastly, Megan Carreiro, a senior psychology major, said her ambition is to someday hug a lion.

Hilary Corna’s final dare to those students who were brave enough to walk up to the microphone was to go out and achieve those goals – to take what the presentation had given to them and achieve.

The final dare she wants to accomplish for herself someday is to do a handstand – a dare that seems very achievable against the backdrop of her life achievements. At the young age of 28 years old, Corna will undoubtedly keep motivating herself and motivating others, one dare at a time.

“We can’t just be fed ideas,” she said. “We have to chew on them. We have to taste them for ourselves.”


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