The Social Institute Student Influencer Program: Introducing Juliana Saling
One of the Seven Social Standards that The Social Institute believes in is: Finding Your Influencers. This means surrounding yourself with positive role models who support you and encourage you to play to your core. To help students find these positive and credible influences, we started our Student Influencer Program. Each week we select a different student to take over our Instagram and highlight how they act as a positive influence and inspiration in their communities.
This week we are excited to introduce Juliana Saling. Juliana is a senior captain on the women’s soccer team at American University. Last year, Juliana and other student-athletes of color came together to launch the American University Black Athlete Coalition (AUBAC). The mission of AUBAC is to create a safe space for Black student-athletes to have a place to learn from each other through experiences, grow as individuals, and create meaningful change within the American University community. Juliana is the president of AUBAC and is continuing to use her platform as a Division 1 athlete to create good in the world.
Recently, we interviewed Juliana to learn more about her. Here’s what she had to say:
What do you value about yourself or others?
Juliana: I hold myself to the same standards that I hold others. I value integrity, selflessness, compassion, and bravery.
What are your personal goals?
Juliana: My short-term personal goals are to play my last season of soccer for American University and bring success to the program, graduate with a degree in business, and leave a positive impact on the community. Long term, I would like to one day have my own restaurant and also work in the nonprofit sector, focusing on health education and food insecurity.
How have you felt since returning to in-person school?
Juliana: Going back to school this fall has been incredibly exciting whilst also somewhat scary. After battling serious health issues for the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, life as I know it has completely changed, so I feel like a new person in a new way of life. I am eager to not only be back on the soccer field but also in the classroom, and be able to challenge myself again. Most importantly, I’m excited to enjoy my senior year with my teammates and experience the sense of family and community that we have missed during quarantine.
What are the things you try to accomplish each day?
Juliana: Each day I focus on making the most of every possible moment. Every day we have is a blessing, and I strive to find as much joy as possible while also bringing joy to those around me. Every opportunity I have to try something new, do something great, or positively impact someone else is a moment to grow as an individual and better myself.
What or who inspires you most?
Juliana: The people that inspire me the most are my parents. My entire life I have witnessed them exemplify what it means to be truly selfless people. They taught me what it means to work hard, the versatility of what success looks like, and most importantly the importance of love. They inspire me to be the best version of myself and to put all of my love and effort into everything I do and the people in my life because that’s what they have done for my brother and I.
How has social media acted as a positive influence on your life?
Juliana: Social media has shown me the power of platforms. Not everyone has the ability to use their voice to advocate for what matters to them, but with social media, we are able to educate, advocate, and connect to bring communities together and stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It has shown me the power of privilege and to take advantage of platforms that we are inherently given through elements of our identity, like being an athlete, and use that power to make a positive impact.
Of our Seven Social standards, which one would you most resonate with and why?
Juliana: I resonate the most with Using Your Mic For Good! Social media enables us to make a positive impact in many ways- changing the narrative around social norms, advocating for our beliefs, education and connecting with others. I believe that when used appropriately and effectively, social media can be an amazing tool for creating meaningful change.
If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what advice would you give to her about navigating social media or social relationships?
Juliana: If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would tell her that when navigating social relationships to always value yourself as much as you value others. You should always strive to make sure that the people around you feel that they matter, while also ensuring that your recognition of your own self-worth never waivers.
Juliana certainly is using her mic for good and creating meaningful change within her community. We cannot wait to continue to follow her journey as she makes strides in her work with the American University Black Athlete Coalition. If you know a student who is accomplishing great things, we want to highlight them! We love sharing impressive students with the world. Contact us here.
About The Social Institute
The Social Institute partners with schools nationwide to empower students, families, and educators to positively navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology. Schools access our student-respected, turnkey curriculum through WinAtSocial.com, an interactive, gamified learning platform. With solutions for students, parents, and educators, we offer a systemic and comprehensive SEL program through a unique and positive approach. We are proud to serve public and independent partners such as Ravenscroft School, Woodward Academy, Oldfields School, All Saints Episcopal School, Lake Forest School District, Boston Public Schools, and more. For more information on how to empower your students to make high-character decisions online and off, please contact us.