Dalinda Ifill-Pressat ’99
“How can we pour into the youth so that they can see value in themselves and a future for themselves?” asked Dalinda Ifill-Pressat ’99, who was recently honored as an emerging leader and young visionary at Steppingstone’s National Partnership for Educational Access conference, speaking as a panelist to over 400 attendees from across the country.
Currently, Dalinda finds herself managing all internal and external communications projects as the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Children’s Services of Roxbury, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides affordable childcare, housing, and mental health services among other resources to Massachusetts’ most vulnerable families.
Although having made incredible strides in the world of communications, marketing, and journalism, Dalinda reveals that her journey was not as straightforward as she initially envisioned for herself.
While a high school student at The Rivers School, Dalinda’s future aspirations were to become a lawyer, which she confesses quickly changed to becoming a dentist. Her decision to break into communications was not made until she enrolled as an undergraduate student at Northeastern University. While there, she met with her college advisor to gain some clarity around what majors aligned best with her interests:
“I started thinking about what I liked, what I didn’t like. Based on that, I sat down with my college advisor and we went down the entire list of majors. When we found communications, I chose it!”
For Dalinda, this would become a pivotal moment for her journey. She credits the progression of her present career to this moment with her college advisor and her decision to pursue a major that she did not previously envision for herself:
“Soon after, things just started to unfold. I started to discover more about myself. I started to identify who I am and what my passions are. I learned that I had a love for storytelling and creative writing.”
After graduating from Northeastern University, Dalinda joined WBZ TV’s team as a Production Assistant and later, Senior Production Assistant. Eager to make a shift in her career, however, Dalinda pursued her masters in journalism from Emerson College in 2016. It was here, she reflects, that her love for communications, marketing, and journalism was solidified.
Trusting Your Journey
From Northeastern, to Emerson, and now the Children’s Service of Roxbury, Inc., the road to becoming an emerging leader and young visionary in the world of communications was not always a smooth one. For Dalinda, it was one filled with trial and error, constant readjustment, and trust that her journey would continue to bring her back to her true passions—as long as she allowed it to:
“It’s about being in tune with your journey and trusting your journey. The minute you lose sight of that, I think it is when the cookie starts to crumble.”
Trusting the journey and ourselves to keep our passions at the forefront of our minds when embarking on our professional and educational journeys is easier said than done. When faced with the uncertainty of what the future holds or what steps to take, Dalinda recommends taking a step back before taking a step forward. She suggests recognizing how every decision and encounter, no matter the size, has contributed to one’s entire journey leading up to the present:
“We don’t see it, right? We never see it when we’re in it. I guarantee you, if everyone sat and thought about their trajectory, the experiences they’ve encountered, the people they’ve encountered, and reflected on where they are now, everything in some shape or form was leading up to it. Where we are now is going to lead up to something else that we aspire for our future.”
An Opportunity to Get a Chance
According to Dalinda, every opportunity we’re offered the chance to experience contributes to our personal, educational, and professional journeys. Whether it be an internship, job, or mentorship experience—taking advantage of the opportunities that come our way has been a long-lasting lesson that Dalinda has held with her since her time as a Steppingstone Scholar:
“Steppingstone was the opportunity to be a part of this amazing sphere that was unfamiliar, yet life-changing—from the classes, Scholars, and the staff that I met, many who I’m still cool with to this day. The experience really meant opportunity. It was an opportunity to get a chance. A chance I don’t know I would’ve gotten had it not been for Steppingstone.”
The “opportunity to get a chance” is a recurring theme in Dalinda’s journey. From her initial aspirations to becoming a lawyer turned dentist, discovering her passion for communications while in undergrad, and pursuing graduate studies in journalism, Dalinda’s journey to becoming the Director of Marketing and Communications is one filled with opportunities for exploration. An “opportunity to get a chance” is just half the battle, however. Per Dalinda’s reflection, trusting your journey is the other.
Through her work as a member of the Steppingstone Alumni Council, Director of Marketing and Communications at the Children’s Services of Roxbury Inc., and speaker on this year’s NPEA Young Visionaries and Emerging Leaders panel, Dalinda’s commitment to ensuring that others have an “opportunity to get a chance” shines through.