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.

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.

Invest in Knowledge

College Chica, 2013

College Chica, 2013

Ben Franklin once said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” In today’s competitive work environment, that is definitely true. It is a good idea to consider going to college, not only to help you stay on top of your game, but also to learn more about your passions and your chosen fields. If you are already thinking about college, awesome! But where do you start exactly? Here are some things to think about to help you take the next steps toward college and your dreams.
1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
If you’re thinking about college already, then you might be more grown up that you think. But this is still a good question to ask yourself. If you want to be a lawyer, for example, you would need to look for law schools, like Harvard or even Baylor in Texas. A scientist might shoot for MIT in Boston while an aspiring writer, like myself, would aim for a liberal arts college like Columbia in New York. Once you decide what your career path is, you can search for schools with programs that meet your needs. A meeting with your guidance counselor at school or even a Google search on your own will help you figure out what programs will suit you and which schools offer it. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a handy place to start. Make a list of 6-10 schools that look promising.

2. How far do you want to go?
Of course, you’re shooting for the stars as far as your goals and aspirations. This question is actually about where you’d like to go to school. Checking out programs and which schools offer them is a good start, but narrow down your options even more by considering how far from home you are willing and able to travel. I think it is good for all students to try to at least leave their hometowns to study, since it gives them a wider view of the world, but sometimes that is not affordable or even desirable. Which schools make it to the next round have to be in cities where you will be able to afford to live, as well as cities you really want to go to or you won’t be very happy with your decision. Many school websites have a student life section where you can learn more about the city in which the school is, so make sure to read up on that and see if the city is as good a fit for you as the school. Further narrow your list of schools by thinking about these things and even visiting these campuses, if you can. Take a tour and ask whatever questions you have.

3. What’s in your wallet? Or rather, how much? As I mentioned in question two, you need to consider places that you will be able to afford. This is where you go back to your guidance counselor and also talk to your parents to see what you all can afford. Your counselor can point you in the right direction for scholarships, grants and financial aid as well as loans, should you really need them. (Make sure you really do need them before reaching for loans, though. They are too easy to get and add up fast!) You also need to see if your parents will be able to help you or not so that you can make a good decision on schools and better navigate your application process. Also look into each school’s work study program, which will allow you to work part time while attending school. Even if a school you are looking at seems crazy expensive however, you might be surprised at the funding you can find, if you look hard enough and do the leg work. Check out websites such as Fastweb or CollegeProwler for scholarships of all sizes and even more tips on college.

4. What else is important?
While there seems like millions of things to consider when going to school, we’ve actually already covered the basics: what do you want to study, where do you want to go and how will you pay to get there? By now you should have about 6 schools that you have hopefully fallen in love with (two safety schools, two maybe schools and two top schools) and that you know you will apply to. If you don’t, take another look at that student life section of the schools’ websites. What else do they have to offer? Do they have extracurricular activities like sports, music, or other clubs you’d like to join? Just like in high school, college isn’t just about studying. You have to have to some down time too. Not only will some of these extras be something fun for you to do, it will look even better on your resume when you graduate. It’s a win-win. See if the school has a program that puts you in touch with someone who already goes to the school so you can talk with a real person going through what you will go through. You’ll get insight and maybe make a new friend.

While searching for schools, applying and waiting for acceptance letters to come in, it is so exciting to get one and start planning what you’ve been dreaming about for years. The work you put in will certainly pay off later. Keep that in mind both during your application process and when you’re actually in school. With a little hard work and a little faith in yourself, you can do it all!

Celebrating the New Year

It is a fact that Latinos know how to celebrate and we have all kinds of beautiful traditions to do it. When it comes to the start of a new year, we go big. Many Latino families gather together to eat turkey, ham or lentils and just minutes before 12 we start doing our good luck rituals. So, how many Latino traditions do you know?

 

Burning of the Dummy
In Ecuador and Panama, New Year’s eve is a huge deal in which entire families reunite to make large straw dolls of the people they dislike, or famous people during the year. They put signs of the sins committed by that person who inspired the straw man doll. Once midnight hits, they burn the straw man to symbolize forgetting the bad things of the past year.

Eating 12 Grapes
In Cuba as soon as the clock marks midnight, people start eating twelve grapes along with the sound of bells ringing. There are twelve grapes because each of them symbolizes one month of the year. This way they have good luck during the entire next year.

Walking with a Suitcase

In many Latin-American countries, especially in Chile on New Year’s Eve at midnight, it is common to see people walking around the block or walking in circle around their house with an empty suitcase. This means they’re hoping for travel opportunities the next year.

Colored Underwear
The use of colored underwear is not from only one country. In fact, this tradition is used in almost every Latin-American country. On New Year’s Eve, people who want love for the next year wear red underwear, people who want prosperity wear yellow, people wear green for health and others wear white for peace. Just remember not to wear black because many people think that it is bad luck.

 

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

Loving Your Body

561541_167302600081618_1634527473_nWatch out thin and slender body types, the curvy look is in this year. The popular hits from Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ and Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About the Bass’ have made it known that having a big booty is beautiful and that curves are to be celebrated. The media has joined the cause with its input with whose body is rocking’ and what workouts these women do to keep their figure. But, why does it matter? A woman’s body has become a public forum for opinion. Their shape and size have become an important factor in determining their beauty in society’s standards. Such views can be seen in the new popular dance fad – twerking.

This dance focuses on the sensual booty shaking (the bigger the better) and has been prevalent in many performers’ dance routines. In the 2014 VMAS, Chelsea Handler came onto the stage to present and made a joke about being surrounded by all these shapely women and being thankful that her entrance followed a Taylor Swift performance. “They asked me if I wanted to perform at the VMAs and I said there are going to be a lot of big fat [butts] at that awards show,” Chelsea said. “So I will present, but you have to put me up after someone who’s white. So thank you, Taylor Swift, for being so white!” Taylor Swift has also received media attention for her body – rather unfavorable attention because of her lanky stature. With memes popping up all over the Internet, mocking her for her minimal curves, it has become clear that this mindset has seeped into those watching at home.

17-year-old high school senior, Vanessa Andrada, says she notices the female-physique emphasis in the media and feels it is worrisome for her generation that consumes it. “I think the media focus primarily on how skinny a girl is or even now how curvy a girl is. Even curvy girls must have a ‘coca-cola’ type body to look attractive,” she says. “They focus on this way too much and it makes girls seem as if they have to live up to this standard to be considered beautiful.”

This body-centered attention, unfortunately, is fairly prevalent in Latina celebrities. A study shows that Latina actresses are unrepresented on screen, but are most likely to be sexualized in their roles, according to a TIME article. Out of all women on screen, 37.5% of Hispanic actresses were most likely to be partially or fully naked on screen in 2013. The curvaceous bodies of Eva Mendes, Sofía Vergara, Penelope Cruz, and Jennifer Lopez have all been the main attraction to their media coverage.

The hype of the “curvy Latina” is accentuated and preserves a stereotype that isn’t really apparent in most Spanish women. “Not all Latinas are curvy and it makes the less curvy women feel like they are not as beautiful as a curvy Latina,” Andrada says. “In some sense, if you don’t have the ‘curviness’ of a Latina you may consider yourself less beautiful than what you really are.”

Although statistics of eating disorders in minority women are unavailable – because of a historical bias that they only affect white women – one study found that of the leanest 25% of 6th and 7th grade girls, the Hispanic and Asian girls found the most dissatisfaction with their bodies, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

“These factors do really impact the way girls see themselves! They hold themselves to what the media or even stereotypes consider as beautiful,” Andrada says.”That’s why many girls have low self-esteem now-a-days because we focus on trying to be the girl with flawless skin, a coca-cola body type, with no stretch marks and have no extra body fat.”

15-year-old Hannah Leija agrees that women shouldn’t have to face criticism for their body image. She shares that it is unfair that they are held to certain standards in the media and that it affects her peers. However, she refuses to succumb to these pressures with a positive outlook and confidence. “The way I see myself is good,” she says. “I don’t care what the media has to say or what people think. I’m happy with the way I am.”

Women. Ladies. Girls. Latinas. Or non-Latinas. They all come in different shapes or sizes. Nicki Minaj and Meghan Trainor are right. You should celebrate your curves, but you should, also, celebrate whatever body type you may be. So if you are a curvy Latina or a slender one, it doesn’t matter. Beauty is found with actions and not appearance.

Choosing the Right College

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College Chica 2013

With so many different colleges out there to choose from, it can be a big task trying to determine which one is the best pick. Many times,the  popularity of a college or its placement on the annual U.S. News & Ranking can make a college seem like a great choice, but there are a lot of different factors about a college that, based on your own interests and personal preferences, can make it a great or bad choice for you. Finding out what you want in a college can help you decide on one that best suits YOU!

Academic Programs that Spark Your Interest

Taking time to think about what you want to study can help guide you in the college selection process.  Gladys, 16, shared that “the one important thing for me is that they have my major, that’s the deal breaker,” and is looking specifically for programs in political communications or broadcast journalism.  Cristina, 16, says she looks for “Programs with something having to do with medicine, because there are a lot of colleges that don’t have that.” Finding a college that has programs for what interests you is a great way to start finding stand-out colleges to apply to. It is normal to change majors or interests during college, too, so looking for colleges that fit a range of your interests is also a smart move.

 

Affordability

We hear so many stories about how expensive college is, but this doesn’t have to discourage you. When looking at cost, Joella, 14, says she looks at “price, and if I can get scholarships there.” Many times, colleges themselves have a wide range of scholarships to offer their students. Financial aid from the school themselves, in addition to aid given by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), can also make a college more affordable. Looking into the specific financial aid programs at each school can be helpful, since some colleges even have no-loan policies in their financial aid and offer work-study and grants to cover the cost of attending.

 

Location and Setting

Looking at the environment of the college is important; this is the place you will be spending 4+ years of your time, so finding an environment that suits you will make being there a happier experience.  This can include location, like what part of the country it is in, and setting, like urban, rural or suburban areas. Cristina, 16, says she “would like the college to be in a small area,” and is currently looking at a school in Colorado, while Justine, 15, has her eye on a more urban setting of California for the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing. Based on personal preference, you might find yourself comfortable at a school in a quiet or small area, or might be more attracted to one in a busier, city setting.

School Size and Student Population

Schools can range from having a few thousand to tens of thousands of students, depending on the school’s size. The size of the school can affect things like student diversity and student-teacher ratio. Cristina,16, says she “would like a big one, because usually when at a big one there’s a lot more things offered to you,” saying she is interested in the wider range of people and clubs she will find at a big school. On the other hand, a smaller school can offer smaller class sizes, more personalized professor attention, and a more inclusive campus setting.

 

Preparation for the Future

Many colleges offer help to get you started on your career or find a job after you graduate. Justine, 15, is interested in studying fashion design, and says the most important thing she looks for in a college is “how it will help you in the future, after you graduate”. If this is something you look for, finding colleges with strong career service programs may be something to look into. Some colleges even offer special Co-op or internship opportunities available to students with different companies or alumni.

According to the Questbridge program’s website, other things to consider when choosing a college are, “your learning style, non-academic opportunities, social life considerations, distance from home, and opportunities to engage in things you personally enjoy,” and note that beyond just academics, “there are also considerations of personality and lifestyle.” Doing your research and outlining the things you are looking for in a college will help you to decide on a good fit for you. Finding a place that will help you achieve your academic and career goals, while also providing a happy and healthy environment for you can make your college experience much more enjoyable, and help you achieve the success you’re aiming for!

Breaking the Mold

Written by Stephanie Hernandez

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Latinos grow up with all sorts of beautiful traditions. From the dancing, to the food, to Piñatas, these cultural traditions are known to be lively and unique. However, there are two sides to traditions. Cultures can define the character of an individual, they bring out the history of the people, they unite people, but they can also limit people. When do traditions become more than just displays of cultural pride, and instead become restrictions in the Mexican-American culture? Latinitas sat down with several young Latinas and asked what they thought about their culture. Here is what they had to share:

Daisy Hernandez, 13, says she loves being a Latina because she has the best food and parties. “My favorite moments are always with my family, and my mom makes the best menudo,” says Daisy.  Even though she loves her culture, she also shares how her culture has influenced her to act a certain way. “I always have to be nice when I talk, I can’t say bad words, but my little brothers say it all the time.” She also states that as a Latina you have to be nice to boys and cook and clean, or else you won’t get married,” she says.

Mia Goodman, 11,  shares her favorite traditions in being a Mexican-American. “I love Chile, Mexican colors and parties,” she says. One tradition that she is looking forward to the most is her Quinceañera, and cannot wait to buy her dress. The Quinceañera is something most Latinitas look forward to celebrating, but the cultural expectations Mia faces is something all third or second generation Mexican-Americans can also relate to. “People say that if I’m Mexican I need to know Spanish, but I do not know Spanish,” she says. The language barrier has led to feeling left out. “Sometimes they sing Spanish songs and tell me too put my headphones on, since I don’t know them,” she says.

Mara Rivas, 24, enjoys the restrictions provided by her Mexican culture. “I like having limitations, I think it’s important for a human being to have them; if not you just go around doing whatever you want and that’s never good,” she says. When asked if she was expected to act and be a certain way as a Mexican woman she didn’t hesitate to respond with a resounding yes. “I’m supposed to be classy, polite and respectable because that’s the way my mom raised me to be,” she says. Mara says that, unlike the Mexican culture, American culture does not put their family first.  “Tú no eyes tu, tú eyes la esposa o la hija de alguien,” she says. As a Latina there is no such thing as in betweenness, meaning women go from a Man’s daughter to a Man’s wife and there in no in between. According to Mara, ” everyone knows everyone, so everybody is like gossiping, oh look that’s the girl, don’t hang out with her she’s [not a good influence].  

Marilyn Medina, 22, says she is proud of her culture but she also dismisses certain expectations, such as marriage and religion. She says that in family parties, her aunts and cousins never ask about her educational progress but instead ask the inevitable, “¿Y el Novio?” 

 

Life of a Teen Model

10003311_828865390463183_752459193_n (5)Currently in her senior year of high school, Kiersten Anderson shares a passion for life, family, and friends. Originally from New York, Kiersten currently resides in Miami where she is pursing her dream of being a teen model.

Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is my beautiful mother, who I adore with all my heart.  She is my mother and father, as my parents are divorced and I rarely see my father.

You shared that you had been bullied in the past, can you tell us more about the experience?
I consider myself pretty popular in school and have a lot of friends.  When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I wasn’t popular and I can honestly say food was my friend. I enjoyed eating snacks and donuts late at night food, and, due to my night snacks, I was a little on the chunky/chubby side and was picked on by many children in school. Often I would tell my mother that I wasn’t feeling good or that I had a fever just to stay home and not have to deal with the bullying in school.  Kids would not want to eat or sit with me or even want to be my friend.  I was always very quiet and reserved, and was kind of a loner. My best friend was my mother, who, at the time, was a single mom because we had moved from New York to Miami and my father decided not to follow us.  My mother would always reassure me that eventually things would change and that I would make friends.  Things got so bad that my mother had to change my school because the teachers and principal would not do anything about the bullying happening to me in school.

As I started getting older, my mother stopped allowing me to eat the late night snacks and donuts. Her and I started doing lots of activities and she put me in dance class.  All the exercise made me lose a lot of weight, so, when I was like 10 or 11 years old, I saw myself becoming thin and getting tall. I had no problems making friends and the kids weren’t being mean to me anymore.  I have to be honest, when I was being bullied I hated the world and everything in it. But, because of my wonderful mother, I was able to overcome all the bullying and see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Fast-forward to now, I am 5’7, beautiful, tall, model who had overcome a lot of turmoil as a child. I am blessed to have a wonderful family, mother who loved me and taught me that we can overcome any obstacles as long as we don’t give up or give in to the behavior of others.

What advice do you have for those who are being bullied?
The bullies were the ones with the problem, not me.  I believe that by sharing my story I can help a child overcome bullying, because if I can make it, anyone can.  Bullying is a huge problem in this day and age, with a lot of children killing themselves because they feel they don’t have any solution.  Well, my solution is speak to your parents; don’t think you’re alone, seek help, and don’t allow the bully to win the war.

intru (6)What does being a teen Latina model entail?
Being a Latina teen model can be very challenging at times, because racism still exists in the world. Sometimes the casting designers will by pass the Hispanic and Black beautiful models and instead pick the white/faired skin, blue eyes blonde haired girls.  I am very confident, so when I am not picked by a designer I don’t let that bother me. I am friendly with all models, but I do see the favoritism.

How did you begin modeling?
I started modeling at the age of 13 and have modeled ever since.  On the streets people would tell me, “You are so pretty, why don’t you model?” My mom took me to an agency, they took photos, and soon after that I was modeling.

Do you have other interests, what are they?
I love to read books, love to go shopping and love to be in front of the camera. I like to play volleyball and go bike ridding. I also volunteer at the Animal shelter by taking care of animals that people don’t want.  We help find loving homes for those pets in need.

How are girls following you?
I have a following of young girls and teens through social media.  Also, I work as a volunteer in the Children’s cancer ward and every time I have a fashion event or show they always want to see my photos or videos, so the nurses will put on my videos for them to watch.

What advice do you have for young Latinas pursuing their dreams?
My advice to young Latina’s trying to pursue their dreams is shoot for the stars and to not believe anyone that says you can’t do it.  You can do anything you put your mind and heart to do.  With hard work eventually come rewards.  LATINAS, let’s stand up and be heard!  As we do have a powerful voice!

Spotlight: Pamela Silva Conde

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From former Miami Dolphin’s cheerleader to full-time anchor on Univision’s Primer Impacto, Pamela Silva Conde is a woman of ambition and determination.

This Peru native has worked her way up the media ladder and has covered national and international news, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Boston marathon bombings. Her TV presence and journalistic work has made her a six-time Emmy award-winning journalist, one of PEOPLE’s 50 most beautiful, and one of the 25 most powerful Hispanic women in the world.

Pamela’s fame, however, has not swayed her from her humble roots. She’s a passionate philanthropist, who has devoted her time to numerous organizations and charities, as well as creating a scholarship for 1st generation college students.  Her upbringing has played a major role in all her achievements.

How was your home-life? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Peru – Lima, Peru – and I migrated to the United States when I was about 10 years old. My mother came first and we were apart for about three years before I finally moved to the States. I was brought up in Miami, so Florida has been my home ever since. I went to undergrad here, I went to grad school here, so I’ve been in Florida for the rest of my adult life.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a journalist? How did you get into the field?

I always knew that I wanted to. As soon as I got to college, I always wanted to do journalism. But I think when I was very very young, when I came to the States, I had a chance to do some TV work and that’s when I realized how powerful and universal media was. So from a very young age, I always new that I wanted to do something with media and influence people and just motivate people. Especially when you come from a humble background – and a Hispanic home – you want to be something that makes your community very proud. So growing up in the States, I knew that I wanted to do something with Hispanic media – that’s why Univision was my dream job. As soon as I started college, I got an internship and decided to come back to Miami to finish college there because Univision was the main Spanish network based out of Miami. I, also, grew up watching Univision and it all just came full circle when I finally got a chance to get a job there. I’ve been with them for almost eleven years. It really has been a win-win situation because it’s more than just a job for me. It is very personal for me to be able to do something with my Hispanic community.

From cheerleading to being a weather girl to an anchor, were there any obstacles you faced while working your way up?

There are always obstacles, especially in this industry because it is so competitive. There will always be obstacles with whatever job you take, but I think I take a lot of pride in whatever job I got or whatever opportunity I got. I know in that moment you feel like, “oh my god, should I be doing this? Do I really want to do news?” But it all comes together, retrospectively. All the dots connect. And I know it may not make sense at that moment, but take it and do it with a lot of pride. Be the best at whatever you may be doing, whether is be a small job – there’s never a job too small – and just give it a 100%. In the end, and once you look back, you realize that all the experience and all the things you ended up doing contributed to what you’re doing currently. But for me, everything that I did from when I was a producer, when I was a reporter, when I did weather, and when I cheered for the Dolphins – everything added and contributed to who I am today. I have been able to do well at work because I have all these skills that I have picked up along the way

What’s your favorite part about your job? What is the hardest?

My favorite part is that every day is different. That’s the most exciting thing about my job. I wake up every morning and obviously with news, you cannot really control it. You never know if it’s going to be a fast day or a slow day. And I think that’s the most amazing part about it. Every day I get to interview someone different or share a story that I’ve never heard about. The unpredictable part of it all is what I enjoy the most.

 The hardest part is, well, the schedule. You have to manage your time and sacrifice a lot of your personal time to do it. But once you’re so passionate about it, you love it so much. It’s hard for me to even pick a hard part because I do enjoy it so much.

You give a lot back to the community, what inspired you to do so and is there a specific cause you are passionate about?

I definitely do think, from a very young age, that I have to thank my mom for instilling that in me, even when we didn’t have a lot. But it’s about doing whatever you can and just giving a little bit back. Since I was very young, I’ve always had that in me. I’ve been very blessed. The more blessings I get, the more I just want to give back and be very involved. I always say it’s not about ‘quantity’ but ‘quality’.  I’m involved with three organizations. I started a scholarship for undergrad students at my alma mater and I’m very involved with that. I’m very active with St. Jude’s Pediatric Hospital, so I’m one of their Hispanic spokesperson. I’ve been very involved and I’ve been to the hospital – I try to go once a year. And there’s another nonprofit, Amigos For Kids, that’s mission is to address and prevent child abuse and neglect. I’m on the board for that organization. I always try to help out other nonprofits that ask for help, but I am definitely more hands on with those three.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring journalists?

Work hard and stay humble. To not give up and stay focused. It is a very competitive world and it is a constantly changing industry, also, with media and technology constantly changing. But I think it is definitely worth the sacrifice, if you stay focused and find the right mentor that can really help you get where you want to be. Once you get there, it is such a fun ride. It’s all worth it.

Do you have any advice for young Latinas?

For young Latinas, I feel the most important advice is not to forget your heritage. I think instead of thinking ‘am I Latina’ or ‘am I more Mexican,’ I think it’s best just to take it in as an advantage. I always tell people that I don’t believe – in regards to myself – oh I’m just Latina or anything special. You really are 100% Latina and 100% American and really take that as an advantage as something that is going to compliment you more than anything. Be proud of being Latina.

You can watch Pamela on Univision’s Primer Impacto on weekdays at 5p/4c.

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