Taking the First Step

Stresses of StudyingWritten by Vanessa Aguirre

Everyone has some experience with procrastination. You may have found yourself putting aside homework—or any other projects—to do things like update your Facebook page, chat with friends, or watch Netflix. As high school sophomore Hannah Young said, “I’d rather do things that I like, like watch TV, sleep, or read a book.” Basically, pretty much anything but what you should have been spending your time on. To some, procrastination may be a minor problem, but to others it can be a major source of stress and anxiety. It is common for anyone to be furiously working on a project late into the night, wondering why in the world they started working on the project at the last minute — because a powering through homework fueled only by caffeine all night is not fun.

Why do we procrastinate?
At some point in life, everyone has put off something important in order to do other trivial activities, but procrastination is most common in students. According to the World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, an estimated 25 to 75 percent of college students procrastinate on academic work . In 2007, a study published in Psychological Bulletin by psychologist Piers Steel found that a grand total of 80 to 95 percent of college students procrastinated on a regular basis, especially regarding school assignments. Despite stress, lack of sleep, and inefficiency, students regularly procrastinate. Why?

One reason is that people, especially students, tend to overestimate how much time they have to perform a task. “I think that I have a lot of time to do something so I can relax for an hour,” Lisa Alvarez, 15, said, “But it ends up becoming longer than that.”

Remember that time it felt like you had a week to do a project when it was really due the next day?

Another factor that leads to procrastination is the mentality that you will be more motivated in the future instead of at the present moment, which means that at moment you don’t have the motivation or the right motivation or mindset to work on anything. People mistakenly believe that in order to work on something they need to be in the right mood.

“I procrastinate because I have no motivation to get [work] done then and there,” Mackenzie Henson, 16, said. Sadly, the truth is that if you wait to get the right frame of mind to work on something, especially something you dread, the task will most likely never get completed. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to go to sleep and wake up to find the task completed– if only!

The negative effects of procrastination
Working on something you don’t want to do can be tiring and annoying, so it can be considered natural to want to delay that as much as possible. In the long-term, procrastination is harmful. Researchers, Dianne M. Tice and Roy F. Baumeister, found in a 2007 study that by the end of a school term, students who procrastinated had higher levels of stress and illness than at the beginning of the school term. Psychologists also reported that the students who procrastinated had lower grades than those who didn’t procrastinate. For example, Lisa Alvarez, 16, said that “my worst experience with procrastination was probably when I did everything I could to not do my homework. So I didn’t do any homework that day, and the next day I was completely lost in school with my classes.”

Procrastination also puts a strain on one’s social life. If you procrastinate regularly, if you constantly turn in projects late or scramble to get them done until the last minute, then friends, family, and coworkers may stop depending on you. Not only does procrastination place a burden on yourself, it places a burden on others!

How to stop procrastinating
While there’s nothing wrong with procrastinating every once in a while, procrastinating often leads to more harm than good. And the key to stop procrastinating is self-control and managing your time well. Evaluate your priorities—make a list if it helps—and focus on the more important tasks no matter how motivated you are. “I beat procrastination by prioritizing” should be your mantra! Try to reduce the amount of time you spend on things like aimlessly surfing the internet or watching too much tv. Psychology expert Kendra Cherry writes, “A couple hours sifting through junk email, several hours watching television shows that you don’t even like, a few more hours playing games on Facebook—it all adds up quite quickly.”

Remove yourself from any distractions, like electronics, books, people, etc., and work on the task step-by-step. Establishing a schedule also helps. As Hannah Young says, “Try studying in little pieces during the days leading up to the big exam.” Spreading out time dedicated to a project throughout the week will lead to being more relaxed and less stressed.  Knowing that you have most of the work done (if not all of the work) by the time the deadline comes is a huge stress reliever. Plus, the more you manage your time, the more likely you are to find time for your hobbies and much needed rest. Mackenzie Henson adds, “I basically scared myself into doing it. We shouldn’t procrastinate or else we will not be successful in life later.”

This upcoming school year turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and concentrate on finishing any projects that have deadlines quickly approaching. You’ll feel a sense of relief, and feel much better!

Leading Latina: Rosa Rios Valdez

Written by Prakriti Bhardwa

rosa_rios_valdezThe passion that Rosa Rios Valdez has for economic development is astounding. For the last 24 years, Rosa has worked tirelessly to build BCL of Texas, a statewide nonprofit, from the ground up, helping establish BCL as one of Texas’s most prominent lenders and non-profit organizations.

She was there from the beginning, when there were only two employees in a former bank building, to today when that huge office now seems a little too small for the fast growing staff. By the time Rosa Rios Valdez was asked to lead BCL of Texas and become CEO, she had already had many years of experience in economic development.

By closely shadowing her managers and mentors, Rosa was able to gain the real life experience that many young adults lack and ultimately hope for. “I realized that I liked learning about entrepreneurs, learning about their business and their stories, and about their expansions,” said Rosa. “I was very lucky that all my bosses pushed me to take every opportunity that came my way. They also provided me with many ways to show and build my leadership skills in the economic development field.”

It wasn’t Rosa’s idea to start BCL of Texas, it was just something that came her way. She had been working in the economic development branch of a Central Texas utilities company, Rosa noticed that there wasn’t much of an SBA loan presence in these small rural towns she was visiting. After making note of this, Rosa mentioned this to the administration. They listened to her observation and followed up with her.

“They called me in a meeting in the office and pushed an envelope towards me,” said Rosa. “Inside the envelope was an application to start a small CDC. They told me that I was right, they didn’t have a presence in these small towns and they wanted me to lead this new venture. I gave the envelope back; it wasn’t something I had envisioned myself doing. I thanked them for the opportunity. However, I thought about it, and well, that was 24 years ago. It’s been very good.”

Throughout the years, the job hasn’t gotten any easier, but Rosa doesn’t mind. Being available to families, communities, businesses, small towns and civic leaders are all in a day’s work. “With BCL of Texas, we were regional and now we are state-wide,” said Rosa.

“So I would say that my job is harder now. We have hundreds of communities that we are responsible for assisting and huge regions of Texas that we serve. So the job is extremely demanding and you need to know and correctly represent the priorities of each of these small towns that BCL serves.” Rosa gets her inspiration from not only the people she surrounds herself with, but mainly through her passion for helping others and her commitment to helping local businesses and families. “I want to be a leader to the people around me and I want them to see the dedication that I put into the projects and people that come to us,” said Rosa. “I want to inspire and help them see how important it is to be dedicated to a cause and to push through any difficulties they may have.”

Being CEO isn’t a job that just anyone can do. The leader and face of the company has to have many different skill sets and has to be very adaptable to their surroundings and the people that they interact with. This tractability is something Rosa feels is important for a successful company. “You have to be extremely organized and you never know what a customer will need, what kind of call is going to come in,” said Rosa. “You always have to make sure that you know everything about what’s going on with the company. You have to be very focused on deadlines. You also have to be a great listener.” Another thing that Rosa appreciates is her staff. While her job continues to become more work-load heavy, she knows that she can rely on the people around her to pick up projects and things that she may not be able to. “What makes it work and the factor that pulls everything together is having skilled staff that can perform in all lines of business,” said Rosa. “A great staff can provide quality customer service and skills to help all BCL customers. That’s what makes the job a little easier.”

Being accustomed to such a fast paced and busy lifestyle, it seems that Rosa never has time to slow down. She never envisioned being CEO would mean having a job that carried over the 8-5 time frame. Working longer hours gets tough, but it’s something that Rosa is passionate about so she doesn’t necessarily mind. “I left a big organization with wonderful benefits to join a much smaller nonprofit,” said Rosa. “But the mission and the cause fit me. I have no regrets. It’s been wonderful.”

Starting High School

Photo Credit: http://education-portal.com

Photo Credit: http://education-portal.com

Written by Imani Calaban

Hearing or thinking about the words “growing up” can be pretty nerve wrecking. When you hear “growing up” you think about: work, bills, work, independence, and, oh yeah, did I mention work? There are different phases of growing up: elementary school, intermediate school, middle school, high school, college, your life-long career, and retirement. Each one has its ways of making you feel scared or anxious. The first “growing phase” that probably freaks us out the most is high school. You feel like you’re finally growing up. You feel like it’s going to be the time of your life. You know that this is the beginning to the rest of your life, and you know that the decisions you make in high school will impact your future–  high school sounds pretty scary.

I started high school in the Fall of 2014, and I go to a school with over 90% of the people are Caucasian. Overall, everybody was very kind and welcoming, which is usually how your peers treat incoming freshmen. High school is definitely overwhelming at some points, but, at the same time, you have a lot more freedom at home and during school.It took me a few days to find all of my classes perfectly, but I had it down by the second week. There is a lot of homework, but it’s also pretty easy. The teachers aren’t as hard on you as they used to be. Now, it’s up to you to get your work done which makes you feel very mature.  During school the teachers let you work at your own pace. There are pep rallies, the sports are more competitive, and the school itself is bigger and better! You might not get along with everybody, but you are certainly not alone. There are plenty of other people in your school that are just like you– keep in mind high schools have hundreds and sometimes thousands of students that are attending!

If you enter high school with a good attitude and maintain that good attitude the whole time, you’ll do great! There’s a lot of people in high school that are just like you, you just have to find them. You can find people  with like-minded interests through after-school clubs or sports.  Yes, it’s okay to feel stressed or overwhelmed, but just remember that it’s a big part of growing up! You have to push yourself to get everything done and done on time. Anything you do in high school can/will affect your future. The way it affects your future is all up to you.

Latina Activists: !Sí Se Puede!

Photo Credit: Cnn.com

Photo Credit: Cnn.com

Written by Karen Lazcano

From “!Sí Se Puede!” to getting out the vote, Latinas are using activism to bring attention to deserving causes across the nation (and world!). They believe in what is right and continue to fight for it. Check out these Latinas and the causes they are advocating for!

Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson is an internationally known actress and activist. She has a successful filmography under her name that also extends to her charitable work. Rosario is the co-founder of Voto Latino, an organization that works to get out the Latino vote and promote a stronger America. Her work has helped to get other celebrities on board with Voto Latino. She also supports the Lower East Side Girls Club, V-Day, and Amnesty International.

Eva Longoria
Eva Longoria is a successful actress, scholar, and activist. In 2013, she graduated with a Masters in Chicano Studies from Cal State Northridge. The 39 year old is a force of talent to be reckoned with. Longoria has long been a supporter of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and even serves on the board! In 2006, she founded Eva’s Heroes, a charity that helps developmentally disabled children. Eva is also a political activist, lending her name to causes like the Latino Victory Project, a movement dedicated to harnessing the power of the Latino community in elections.

Rosie Perez
Rosie Perez is a Puerto Rican-American actress. You can catch her weekday mornings as a co-host on ABC’s “The View.” Rosie is an activist for AIDS, Puerto Rican rights, and education access for youth. She was appointed to The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Rosie also serves as the chair for the artistic board of Urban Arts partnership, an education nonprofit in New York City dedicated to breaching the achievement gap.

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta has dedicated her life to advocating for migrant workers as a labor leader and activist. She co-founded the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez and then went on to form the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Her constant commitment to the Latino community and lobbying efforts have helped to pass legislation such as the 1975 California Agricultural Labor Relations Plan. Dolores continues to advocate for causes important to the Latino community, such as immigration reform. She proves that even at the age of 84, si se puede!

Sonia Nazario

Sonia Nazario is an author and reporter, most famously known for writing Enrique’s Journey–for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. In Enrique’s Journey, she tells the story of  Honduran boy and his struggle to get to the United States to find his mother. She is  strong advocate for the rights of unaccompanied migrant minors, serving on the board of Kids In Need of Defense. She also shares her testament to the difficulties faced by Central American migrants throughout the country.

Shakira

You know her from her wildly infectious hits like “Hips Don’t Lie” and “She Wolf,” but there’s more to Shakira than meets the eye. Shakira has long used her star power to shine a light on causes like education and child advocacy. In 1997, she founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation to ensure that impoverished children in Colombia have access to education. Shakira has also served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has been appointed as a member of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics by President Obama.

To learn more on how you can be involved, check out the volunteer opportunities available at your school and within your community. Volunteering and being involved are the first steps towards making a difference and making an impact in someone’s life.

Being Involved

picture for volunteer pageWritten by Priscilla Moctezuma

High school is a time for college applications and making the best of your teen years. The best college applications are those that are filled with extracurricular and volunteer experiences, but what should you do if being shy has stopped you you from being involved and, now, you don’t know where to start?

What it Means to Be Involved
To be involved means to join the athletics team, choir ensemble, marching band, and/or even being a volunteer at your school. The first step in getting involved is to know where to sign-up. The easiest way is to speak to your grade counselor and ask him/her what the school offers.  Whether you are trying to see if the school has something you love or are trying to figure out what the school offers, find it in yourself to BELIEVE that everything will work out for the best. Some extracurricular activities mean signing-up and showing up (super easy!), but others ask participants to try out in order to join the team. Most schools offer debate, dance, art, choir, band, and sports as their main after school clubs, but you might find a hidden gem, like a book, robotics, or even math club, that will spark something within you and make you come of your shell.

If joining a club does not fit your schedule or you want to participate in an event with fewer people, try volunteering. Volunteering at school or within your community can be just as rewarding as joining an after school club. Helping your community will lead to learning more about yourself and how you can impact another person’s life.

Volunteering is also a great way to boost your college application because it shows that you have learned and applied several skills that will prepare you for college. The college application says more than just your first and last name. It will show that you are team player, caring, self determined.  These skills are developed over time, and being involved gives you the experience you need to boost your social skills and college applications. Volunteering in a place that you know best, like a church, is a good place to start!

Being Involved Boosts Your Social Skills
Whether you are in an after school club or you are volunteering at the local homeless shelter, being involved will help you figure out your weaknesses and strengths. Most importantly, it can boost your social skills – like how to be a leader, working well with others, public speaking, networking, etc. Social skills can be tough if you’re shy, but working with likeminded people helps create a positive, safe environment where you can practice your social skills.  Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but breaking out of your shell can happen with baby steps. First, be active and join a club or find a volunteer opportunity! Then, listen and get to know your peers. Opening up can be difficult, but you can start small by asking questions about school and their interests. Once you surround yourself with a group of people who share the same interest(s), you tend to develop strong bonds/friendships– being shy turns into a thing of the past.

To be involved in school is a good thing! Plus, it will help develop your social skills, looks great on college applications, and it’s rewarding. Once you figure out what you are good at, go with it and stay involved. I was once a shy little girl, but everything changed once I took a choir class in middle school. Whatever you are passionate about, stay involved, get to know your peers, and build on that long term friendship. Don’t be shy and say hi.

Making the Best Out of a Quince

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 3.24.32 AMWritten by Yoriko Thomas

The celebration of your 15th birthday is one of the most important occasions in your life. While planning the event is bound to cause you and your family a bit of stress, there’s no reason you can’t feel completely present and over the moon during the ceremony and reception. While getting the dress, venue, cake, and more just right is essential to the event’s success in your eyes, how you prepare yourself is a vital part, too, and shouldn’t be ignored. Here is a look at the four key ingredients to ensuring you have the time of your life at your quinceañera.

1. Practice Gratitude

Being outwardly appreciative during your big day isn’t only for making those around you feel special, although that is a benefit. According to researchers, it can also help you manage stress better, while improving your mood, building stronger relationships, and boosting your health. During the planning stage of your quince and ahead of the big day, make sure you practice being appreciative towards those in attendance. Consider the lengths to which your parents and other family members have gone in order to celebrate your entry into womanhood. Whether you work with a caterer or you hunker down with the women in your family to make enough food the week before, be thankful for what you have and the effort others have put in for you.

2. Consider the Meaning

Another important aspect of enjoying your quinceañera is to try and keep in mind the meaning of the ritual and celebration. From the religious ceremony to the party that follows, a quince emphasizes you, your family, your faith tradition, and your social responsibilities. It’s much more than just a reason to get dressed up and be the center of attention for a day, because your transition from childhood into womanhood affects your family and community. As you ceremonially become a woman, remember that your quinceañera is designed to help prepare you for adulthood in the midst of your loving and supportive community.

3. Steer Clear of Drama

Whether you have friends who don’t get along or family members who can’t seem to ever quit bickering, it can sometimes be tough to steer clear of drama during the planning and execution of a quinceañera. That being said, it’s still worth the effort to try. Seat sworn enemies far from one another and ask your best friend or sister to run interference for you whenever anyone wants you to choose a side in an argument. Try to also anticipate potential trouble so you can solve it before it gets out of hand. Make sure your court is made up of people who are friendly and pleasant, so your heart and mind can stay free of worries on your big day. And remember: Any drama that pops up on your big day should be handled by someone else.

 

4. Get Plenty of Sleep the Night Before

As you count down the days before your quince, your excitement will continue to build. Between pouring over last-minute details to trying on your gown on one last time, getting a good night’s rest the night before your quince can feel like an afterthought. The truth of the matter is that your quinceañera is going to be a whirlwind of people and experiences, and the more rested you are for it, the better you’ll feel during it and after. In order to get the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, curl up in bed at your regular time, and if you can, skip the alarm and sleep in until you naturally wake up. A good night’s rest will help you feel and look your best, which is exactly what you want at your quince.

A quinceañera is something a young woman experiences only once in her life, which is why the preparation and actual event are so important.

Career Spotlight: Chief Communications Officer

Photo Credit:  http://www.congreso.net/

Photo Credit:
http://www.congreso.net/

Name:
Yvette A. Nuñez
Position & Title:
Chief Communications Officer
Employer:
Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Inc.
City & State:
Philadelphia, PA
What are some of your job responsibilities?
I lead our $24M multi service non-profit organization’s fundraising, communications, special events, corporate relations, community relations, civic engagement and volunteer management efforts; serve as member of executive leadership team overseeing a staff of 4. I manage the agency’s Corporate Advisory Council, featuring Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies as well as manage external vendors including PR agency, photographers, design firms, and promotional products companies. I develop strategic leadership communications, including speeches, press releases, Op-Eds, and content for brochures, annual reports, and electronic media. I also serve as the agency’s social media manager and design agency collateral as needed. Congreso is one of the nation’s Top Hispanic Non-profits in the Nation, and I serve as liaison to national and corporate partnerships.
What is your educational background? Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I have an undergraduate degree in journalism. In college, I was the first Latina to serve as Editor in Chief of the school newspaper, where I managed a team of 50+ freelance writers, photographers, designers, etc. This experience gave me a good understanding for the deadline-driven pace of a newsroom, and later as I became a non-profit communications professional, I benefited from the skills in management, deadlines, and multitasking that it helped enhance. I also worked as a clerical supervisor and a legal assistant…AT THE SAME TIME!
How did you find your current job?
I built a strong network and great reputation for the work I was doing in the non-profit and government sectors. I had previously worked with the agency as a partner, and when it came under new leadership, a position became available requiring my exact combination of skills.
What did you do to prepare for this career?
You can do PR anywhere. You should merge it with something you’re passionate about. I love being Latina and working in the Latino community. I am blessed to have the opportunity to use my skills for the benefit of a great organization that helps 16,000 people a year. I am not a social worker, but I love promoting what our staff and clients are doing together for the betterment of Latino Philadelphia.To prepare for this career, I had a natural talent for writing, and an upbringing that predisposed me to prioritizing the voices of poor people of color.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love any day that I get to spend with our clients, especially the older adults who come by to visit. It’s an immediate fill my bucket with love kind of day. I also just LOVE bringing an event/fundraiser to fruition. It takes a lot of planning, hustling, visioning, and negotiating. But when it all comes together (and it always does) is the best part.
What is the most challenging part of your job
I think the most challenging is not being able to be all things to all people. When you wear a lot of different hats, sometimes they tip over and you just can’t manage it. Learning to manage my time, expectations, and diverse interests are tricky, but doable.
What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
I would say that you have to love to write, understand the story and/or event from the end user’s perspective before the story is written and before the event is planned, and find something your passionate about.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
Go on dates with my kids, travel and read.

Career Spotlight: Journalist

Photo Credit: http://www.kint.com/artist/rosy-zugasti/

Photo Credit: http://www.kint.com/artist/rosy-zugasti/

As a Latina, it brings a lot of pride watching other Latinas excel in their careers. This is the case with Rosy Zugasti, a Mexican reporter whose passion for journalism brought her to begin her education in the United States and whose language barriers did not prevent her from succeeding. In this interview, Rosy Zugasti explains the steps she took in her career.

What are your job responsibilities?
My responsibilities are to investigate everything that happens in the communities of El Paso, Juarez and Las Cruces that in someway affect the people. Primarily, I inform the audience without bias.

What is your educational training?
I studied for my professional career in journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso. Before that, I studied English, communications and my basics in high school in Cuidad Juarez and then EPCC. Throughout my studies, I was involved in journalism activities like the newspaper and other school projects that helped me learn about being a reporter. I was also a radio announcer for KCCR when I was at community college. During my senior year in college, I did an internship with Univision El Paso

How did you find your current job?
I found my job because  I did an internship at Univision my last year of college. During my internship, I focused a lot on demonstrating that I was a hardworking person with a willingness to learn. That is why I was selected for a full-time job with the news station.

How did you prepare for this career?
I prepared during school and with extracurricular activities. For a future reporter it is very important to get involved in media early because that will open many doors for you.

What is your favorite part of the job?
My favorite part of the job is being able to have direct contact with the people. I like being able to give voice to those who need to be heard and to help the community.

What is the most challenging part of the job?
It is difficult when I have to report on tragedies or death. It makes me very sad to see people suffer. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate when a family is suffering.

 What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
I like to spend time with my family, playing the piano, going for walks in the park or going to the movies.

 What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
I would recommend that they start now connecting with people who work in media. There are TV stations and newspapers that allow youth to do internships at a young age to learn about the the work and get informed about media. It is also important to learn about all the aspects involved in mass communications.

What it Means to be a Latina

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Written By Jasmin Flores

An American Latina is defined as a woman who grew up with American advantages and identifies with her Hispanic roots. However, this is not the only case. With the changing of times come the altering of “labels” and terms. A Latina can be anyone or anything nowadays. Fifty-years ago when my grandmothers were youths, a Latina’s dreams were expected to be to get married and have children. That’s it. Not of getting a college education or traveling and experiencing different things. This mindset didn’t end fifty-years ago, and this continued on and on until my generation came along and people realized that this design was flawed.

Many Latinas are now realizing that there is more to life than being homemakers and mothers. Sociologists attribute this newfound interest to schools pushing kids that belong to minority groups to go to college. However, I disagree. I think the words of our grandmothers and mothers are what push us to realize our potential. Learning from their hardships, heartache, and life lessons, we become aware that we carry the weight of their dreams on our shoulders. Therefore, we must do what we can to make them proud of us.

We are at the fork in the road that these women were once not given the opportunity to face. They were scuttled along the path of homemaker and mother. Now, we have choices. Do we want the take the road paved with the bricks of education, of success, of a future? Or do we want to take the dusty old road that many women were forced to travel?

Because of women like Dolores Huerta and Sonia Sotomayor, that golden brick road has become easy and accessible for the younger generations to travel on. We embrace “white America,” in a way that was not seen before. In fact, many and most Latinas, including myself, identify with white America more than our Hispanic roots. For example, I do not speak Spanish. I never learned how to speak it fluently. I can understand when my grandma yells at me “cierra la puerta” or “dame la bolsa,” because I’ve lived with her the majority of my life and I know her quirks. However, when I am with my mom or anyone else for that matter, we only speak English. There is a barrier between me and my Hispanic roots.

There are so many misconceptions people have of Mexican and Hispanic culture. Just like the changing of fads, people and ethnic groups change as well. We don’t ride stage coaches anymore, we drive cars. We don’t speak Spanish, but we’re still Mexican. One of my favorite quotes that describes what it’s like to be a modern Latina comes from the movie Selena:“You have to be more Mexican that the Mexicans and you have to be more American than the Americans, both at the same time! It’s exhausting!” I don’t think you can get more accurate than that.

We are in a purgatory stage where we don’t belong on one side more than the other. We are directly in the middle. I’ve been too white-washed to be a Mexican and I am too dark to be an American. I like Starbucks but I also like watching 12 Corazones. We tread a fine line, and, if we lean too far to one side, the other will call us a traitor. It really is hard to be a Latina, but it is unlike anything else in the world.

We as women are naturally strong, but to be a Latina woman is to be as strong as Atlas. We are lovers, we love our family, we love the people we meet, and we love ourselves. We are givers, we give our compassion, we give advice, and we give ourselves. We are role models, we inspire the younger generations, we inspire our peers, and we inspire ourselves. We are Latinas, we are Hispanic, we are American, we are women. I’d like to conclude with a mini poem that I wrote.

 

I am a puzzle 

Hecho en Mexico

I am a riddle

Made in America

Poem: Room

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Written by Stephanie Hernandez
It’s just an empty room
A naked window and wooden floors
Beige walls and red doors
The shadows of falling leafs reflect on the window
While the sun rays leak through
With golden light that sways with winter scents
Their smells are lingering content
The wind whispers stories in the walls
Of romantic downfalls
When seasons can’t help but change
Your desires become strange.
For you rather be the scar
Than admit who you are
Now my heart is breaking
For what has been forsaking
Let us breathe through the seas
Of shuttered memories
And watch us fall like the yellow leaf
That covers the concrete of gray disbelief
With the wrong steps, we’ve lost our chances
Missed words and lost romances
That sunk through the wood of our floor
The mistakes that paint our red door
Was I a fool to assume?
That after all we’ve been through;
We’d be more than an empty room

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