What We Learned in 2017: From Five ‘We Rise’ Semifinalists

The Hivery's ‘We Rise’ scholarship semifinalists are an incredible group of #womendoingcoolstuff! We wanted to continue to gain inspiration from them so we took a moment and asked: What did you learn in 2017? Here are several of their beautiful and empowering answers. 

Looking back on 2017, what are a few things you learned in your personal life?


Hannah Waen, Communications Manager, Trips for Kids Marin: I’ve learned not to be afraid to jump. Maybe you’ll crash, or perhaps you’ll fly, but at least you’ll be moving! A wise friend said this when I was caught in an unhappy and unhealthy work situation. I jumped, and I’m so glad I did. I also learned that challenging times are great opportunities for personal growth. Difficult times are when meaningful changes occur. Don’t be afraid to embrace the challenge when you’re being tested. And surround yourself with smart women. Your friendships and networks of female supporters will help you in unexpected ways.




Zphyna Caldwell, Artistic Director, Interactive Enrichment Company: I’ve learned to be more kind and gentle with myself, that love and acceptance come from within as long as I’m happy and know I did my best.





Gianna McLaren, Racecar Driver: It has been over a year now since I left everything I knew working for the Forest Service in order to pursue my dream of becoming a racecar driver. It has been the most fascinating, exciting, and challenging adventure I have ever embarked on. I came to Sonoma Raceway with literally nothing—no racing experience in any form—just a very big dream to be a Formula 1 driver. If, in the process of pursuing this dream, I can be an empowering inspiration to girls who need some encouragement to follow their true passion, in spite of what others might think, that would mean everything to me.





Erin Ceynar, Philanthropy Consultant: On January 3rd, 2017 I moved to the Bay Area from Minneapolis, MN. My big personal take-away is that change is good.





Marissa Viray, Director of Outreach, Girls Leadership: I learned that purchasing Moorea Seal’s book 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy was a really good idea. It taught me what and who makes me really happy, and as a result I’m spending more time with those people who bring me joy and less time on social media. I also decided to join the Inverness Yacht Club because I’d like to live up there one day. And this year I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my money club, a group of three women who came together a decade ago to crush debt and build savings. After all this time, I’ve learned that having a consistent support system has been critical to my financial success, and that their encouragement ultimately allowed me to take brave steps toward a career that is more fulfilling.


What are a few things you learned on a professional level?
Zphyna: On a professional level, I think of the Shakespeare quote "Reputation, Reputation, Reputation." The most important aspect of our business (besides serving kids) is to be known and well known for producing stellar classes, camps, and workshops. Our entire staff is friendly and charming and we truly connect with each and every student.

Hannah: I learned that I know more than I think I do, and that I can rise to the occasion when tested. I learned that everyone fakes it until they make it, and that it is okay to be uncomfortable and feel like a pretender. And finally, I learned that if it isn’t working, to make a change. Staying in an unsatisfying job and hoping it will get better is a disservice to yourself.

Gianna: I’ve learned a lot about overcoming the fears I experience as an introvert when it comes to being in open, public situations. Now that I have found what I am truly passionate about, I am no longer afraid to speak to the world about it.

Erin: In the end of 2016, I stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota, an organization I helped found and held leadership positions in for 15 years. It was a retirement of sorts. Professionally, I chose to leave at the top of my game. I was intentional about this. I needed to recharge and I don't regret it.

Marissa: I learned that investing in a career/wellness coach is worth every penny, that there is a science to hiring strong team players, and that you can make a huge difference even with a tiny budget.


Looking ahead at 2018, what is exciting to you?
Zphyna: Expansion! We are adding adult courses, dramatic literature and improvisation to our Mill Valley program. We are also hoping to begin working in Ross and at additional private schools throughout the country.

Hannah: Next year will be a year of action. This year laid the foundation; 2018 is the time to implement, create and experiment. The prospect is intimidating and exciting at the same time. I can’t wait to start the year with a renewed vision, a boost of confidence and new goals—not to mention the backing of fantastic Hivery members.

Gianna: I am very excited and nervous about 2018. I am working hard right now to get sponsorship to race in the new US F4 series that will be on the West Coast for the first time. This would be my first season in car racing and the first step towards my ultimate dream of F1, so the 2018 season would be an incredible step in this journey!

Erin: I can't wait for 2018. I'm focusing on growing my consulting practice, building relationships in the Bay Area, working on the national roll out of the Young Women's Initiative and writing a book about my Cowboy Hall of Fame Great Grandmother—a true woman of the West.

Marissa: I’m excited to sail in Croatia, partner with brands like Athleta and REI to further our mission and to do more storytelling.


What advice would you give yourself 12 months ago?
Zphyna: I would tell myself to be patient, don’t worry and don’t panic. I’d tell myself that I’m amazing and everything is going to be great!

Hannah: I would advise myself to keep an open mind and absorb everything as if I was a sponge. You never know what information you gather becomes useful in six months, or what small thought could spark a new interest. Take time to sit with these new ideas and try them on. They might become your new passion.

Gianna: I would advise myself to truly believe in myself and what I’m capable of achieving. I'll never forget a talk one of the driving instructors at the karting track gave me at my second to the last race of the season. Up until then, I had been driving just like I was still trying to scope everything out, learn the basics of race craft, and perfect my driving skills on track. However, I was still very nervous when it came to driving so close right up on somebody's bumper, especially under braking while going into a turn, and making a proper pass. This particular instructor said he was disappointed that I hadn't made any really aggressive moves all season and how he thought that I was a racing driver but not acting like it. That got me really irritated and I said to myself "Of course I'm a racing driver!! I'll show you..." He also told me that I had to be really selfish and believe that the first place trophy is absolutely mine. Well I did. I went back out for the main race right after we had that talk and started passing other drivers with ease. That was the day I truly started racing, and won in my class that day. The final race of the season, I felt even more confident knowing that I had to get that trophy. I qualified 1st on pole with the fastest lap times out of a field of 10 drivers. And during the race, I led the field far in the front and won my first overall victory, plus the championship in my class. What an amazing feeling! So yes, you just have to believe that you are capable of something and you'll be amazed at what you can accomplish when you overcome your initial fears and hesitations.

Erin: Take every reasonable opportunity presented to you. Show up and be authentic.

Marissa: Don’t take things so seriously. It will all work out.

And now...what advice would YOU give yourself 12 months ago? Share with us here, or with friends and family, or in your journal. And then...move forward into 2018 with the voice of your best advisor leading the way.