Dealing with a Depressed Parent

Hispanic girk looking sad

According to a study performed in 2005 by the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine (JABFM), depression affects 6.9 % of Puerto Ricans, 2.5% of Cuban-Americans and 2.8% percent of Mexican-Americans. As a teen, it can be difficult to have a depressed parent. Between irritability and mood changes, having a relationship while trying to help a parent can be difficult.

“To cheer up a parent/guardian you need to know what is wrong  [with him/her]… All [she/he] could need is someone to talk to or to hug while [he/she] cries about it,” said Elena Galdeano, 18.

Signs of Depression

First and foremost, you are not the reason for your parent’s sadness; you might be tone of the reasons that could make him/her happier. Depression can affect anyone, and spotting the signs of depression may help you understand what he/she is going through and how to help them.

Depression is caused by a variety of reasons. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people who show signs and symptoms of depression have:

  •                Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  •                Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  •                Irritability, restlessness
  •                Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  •                Fatigue and decreased energy
  •                Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  •                Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  •                Overeating, or appetite loss
  •                Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  •                Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not
    ease even with treatment.

Talking About Depression

When someone is depressed, he/she might need a hug or someone to talk to. If part of his/her depression involves a lot of anger, frustration and irritability, try to remember that his/her frustration may stem from a deeper place (what’s causing the depression) and it’s not directly because of you. Strong emotions mean that he/she will need to seek professional help.

“While it could be scary and strange to see a parent crying it [talking to them about it, letting them cry] could be helpful for them,” Galdeano said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.”

If your parent refuses to seek professional help, you will not automatically become his/her therapist.

“Don’t tell them you know exactly what they’re going through, unless you have had depression, too,” said Kao.

His/her problems may not be within your control, but you can do simple things around the house to help create a more positive environment. You can help relieve his/her stress by showing them that you care.

“Make them feel needed or important. It’s beneficial for depressed [people] to feel they have meaning in their lives and feel connected with the people around them,” said Stephanie Kao, University of Texas at Austin Sophomore.

Additional ways to show them that you care is by helping out more around the house and maintaining a peaceful and positive environment.

“Getting their mind off it for a moment while they work on it [their problem] by singing or taking them for a walk,” Galdeano said. 

Added stress contributes to depression. Picking your battles (not fighting with parents even though they are showing signs of irritability), taking out the trash, doing laundry, cooking a meal, etc. Between helping out around the house and talking to him/her about depression may make him/her more open to seeking professional help (e.g. counseling).

Dealing With Depression

Dealing with a parent who is depressed can affect you emotionally, too. Take time for yourself. Otherwise, you may become sad from the high-stress environment. Your health is important, which means helping out a parent is not your full-time job.

“Reach out to relatives to have them try to connect with that parent or guardian, too,” said Kao.

Consequences of Depression

Surround yourself with a positive support system with friends and family. Dealing with depression is difficult for the person going through it as well as those around him/her, but a positive support system can help you get through this situation. If you feel that things could escalate to a point where you feel unsafe, have a relative who can act as the mediator or have a back-up place to stay with a friend or relative in case things escalate.

It can be hard coming of age and dealing with the physical and/or mental absence of a parent. However, it can be done and has been done. With the tips mentioned above it is hoped you can do the same. And remember, you have a support system. There are people rooting for your and your parent to get out of their slump as well.

Latina Professionals in STEM

Photo Credit: blogs.scientificamerican.com

Photo Credit: blogs.scientificamerican.com

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields exist all around us, from the gravity that keeps our feet on the ground, to the way our cells are working inside our bodies. STEM fields contribute to all sorts of inventions that help in everyday life, and bring about new discoveries in our knowledge of our environment, medicine, space, and much more! According to the U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce, Hispanics in total make up 7% of the STEM workforce in the United States, and only 3% of Latinas are represented in the STEM fields. Here are some Latinas who have made their career by making discoveries, conducting important research in STEM, and are paving the way for future Latinitas to go after their STEM dreams!

Lydia Villa-Komaroff - Cellular Biologist

Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a biologist of Mexican descent, earning her Bachelor’s degree at Goucher College and Doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the time, she was the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate degree in the United States! At first, she wanted to study chemistry, and was faced with an academic advisor who told her, “Women didn’t belong in chemistry!” Despite these set-backs, she discovered her love for biology, and followed her passion. She went on to contribute to the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells, and now works a company that develops cell processing systems.

Elba Serrano - Biophysicist

Elba Serrano was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but spent many years growing up living in different parts around the world because her father was in the U.S. military. She recalls that growing up, she received a lot of bullying at school from her peers because of her brown skin and Spanish accent. As she became older, she discovered a passion for the sciences, and felt they transcended the barriers of ethnic divide. She received her PhD at Stanford University, and remembers throughout her entire education being one of the very few females in science programs, and part of even a smaller group of minority students. She is now an established Biophysicist studying the nervous system, focusing her research at the University of New Mexico on discovering ways to restore hearing loss.

Adriana C. Ocampo - Planetary Geologist

Adriana C. Ocampo was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of 14, she and her family came to live in the United States. She began her interest in science and space exploration early in her youth, and by her junior year in high school, was working a summer job at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Geology at California State University with a specialization in planetary science. She worked at JPL as a research scientist, became a program executive at NASA in Washington DC, and is currently working at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands as a research scientist. She contributed to various space missions, has studied planets, moons, and many other celestial bodies, and was even a part of the discover of the Yucatan Peninsula crater, believed to be the impact site of an asteroid responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs and other ancient creatures of the Earth.

Marcela Carena – Physicist

Marcela Carena was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and received her degree in Physics at theInstituto of Balseiro in Argentina. She specializes in particle physics, and studies the origins of matter, and the matter and antimatter in the universe. Carena currently works as the senior theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She is a professor of physics at the University of Chicago, and advises the U.S. Department of Energy. Aside from scientific work, she has worked to establish a visitor program at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for Latin American students to come and conduct research there during their graduate education.

France A. Córdova - Astrophysicist 

France A. Córdova is of Mexican and Irish descent, getting her Hispanic roots from her father. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English at Stanford, thinking she would pursue a career in writing or journalism. After seeing the 1969 walk on the moon on television, a passion for science was ignited, and she went on to receive a PhD in Physics from the California Institute of Technology.  She became the second woman and youngest person to be chief scientist at NASA, and has become an award-wining astrophysicist. Throughout her career, she developed experiments to analyze space and help answer the questions of how the universe was created. She is currently the director of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. government agency that promotes STEM education and the advancement of scientific discovery.

If you’re interested in STEM, it’s never too early to start looking for related programs at your school or in your area, joining clubs at your school, or talking to teachers at school about your interests! To learn more about Latinas in STEM and how you can get started on pursuing your interests in these fields, here are a few sites to check out:

For Girls in Science: http://forgirlsinscience.org/

Latinas in STEM: http://www.latinasinstem.com/

Latino STEM Alliance: http://www.latinostem.org/

Without Dance, What’s the Pointe?

Photo Credit: Sofia Villarreal

Photo Credit: Sofia Villarreal

From my first performance in a hula girl ensemble at the age of two, to my most recent dance endeavor as a part of a hip-hop crew in college, dance has been an inextricable part of my life for eighteen years now. When I reflect on my childhood and young adult life before college, most memories consist of time spent in the dance studio. Hours spent during weekdays, weekends, and sometimes even holidays giving blood, sweat and tears to a performance was extremely fulfilling.

I was thrilled with the adrenaline rush that accompanied being on stage, twirling and bending to the music. The physical demands of dance have always been an exhilarating challenge that I have cherished. Not only is it physically demanding, but it makes for an expensive and time-consuming pursuit. I have the privilege of being raised by wonderful parents who have unwavering support for my pursuits, and dance was no exception.  All throughout middle and high school, I attended several ballet classes a week and was a part of an annual Nutcracker Ballet performance that was the highlight of my Christmas vacation. For a while before I knew which college I would attend, I greatly considered being a professional dancer. My senior year of high school I joined a pre-professional contemporary dance company called Nudo Piedi, and it was the most fulfilling and enriching experience of my life. I was the youngest in the group of an all female dance company and I grew as a dancer more in this year alone, than in the countless classes I had taken before.

As college application deadlines came around, I realized that although dance was a definite part of my future, it was not going to be my future. This realization arrived with a bit of heartbreak as I said goodbye to my dance peers, the wonderful women of Nudo Piedi and especially my instructor, whom I had grown very close to. I feared that college would be all consuming and essentially too difficult to manage with a dance passion, but I found a way to make it work. Although I have only taken a couple of ballet classes since then, my pursuit of dance as something essential to my life has brought wonderful opportunities my way. I am now a member of the Trinity University dance team, the Prowlers, as well as a member of the hip-hop dance troupe, LoonE Crew. Before college, I had never experienced anything outside of ballet, contemporary, and the occasional jazz class. Joining a hip-hop crew was something entirely out of my comfort zone, but it has been an incredibly fun experience. In essence, I am thankful for being lucky enough to pursue a passion that has been so incredibly rewarding, and in which every minute spent in the studio has paid off in more ways than one.

Service Learning Experience in Peru

During the spring break of my 2014 spring semester, I got the exciting chance to be part of the international service team at my school! Six other students and I made a trip to Peru with the goal of installing a solar electric system in Corpani Peñas, a village located high in the mountains of Peru with no access to electricity. After weeks of installation training and preparation, we were heading to South America, ready for the many adventures ahead!

1 Cross Hike

For most of the trip, we stayed in Urubamba, Peru. The city is located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with magnificent, green mountains surrounding it. Here, we tried foods like lomo saltado, a tasty Peruvian dish with potato, beef, rice, and onions, and ceviche rich with seafood from the coast. We had the chance to hike up one of the nearby mountains on what is locally known as the “cross hike,” which consisted of trailing up a path overgrown with plants and shaky rocks until, at last, reaching the top, where a giant cross overlooks the entire town and surrounding valley. It was a view like nothing I had ever seen before!

2 Corpani4 Assembling Part of the Solar electric system

Installing the solar panels gave us the opportunity to stay a couple days in the village of Corpani Peñas. The people living in the village spoke in Quechua, with only a few individuals

knowing any Spanish. Quechua is an indigenous language, once the official language of the Incas, and now stands as the official language of Peru, in addition to Spanish. This was a language I had never heard of before, and was fascinated by hearing it spoken so much around me! On one of the nights spent here, we were treated by the head of the village to a special dinner where we were served cuy, a popular dish in Peru. Cuy, as odd as it may sound to us in the United States, is essentially cooked guinea pig! With hesitancy and curiosity, we gratefully ate the dish, which the village only prepares on special occasions. After a few cautious bites, the whole team was pleasantly surprised by the delicious meal.

The solar electric installation process was successful, despite there being several slight bumps in the road. It took the whole team and community members to brainstorm when materials failed to work, but teamwork and determination allowed us to pull through!

Following our stay there, we traveled to Ollantaytambo, a historic site of Incan ruins in another part of the Sacred Valley. Our guide told us the history behind some of the ruins, like how the giant terraces built along the side of the mountain were used for agriculture, and how some of the buildings were used as storehouses for food and seeds. Some of the structures, our guide shared with us, have archeologists and scientists still puzzled as to how the Incas were able to construct them, for example, walls built with massive, finely carved rocks all perfectly placed to fit like a puzzle, and packed together so closely, not even a pin can squeeze through! Viewing this historic site and hearing some of its history was incredible!

3 Ollantaytambo

5 Ollantaytambo

Our final stop of the trip, only a few hours before heading to the airport, was to the famous city of Cusco, once the capital city of the Incan Empire! Cusco is home to some amazing churches and buildings that were constructed after the Spanish conquest. We visited the Plaza de San Francisco, and made our way around the nearby market, where all sorts of clothing, jewelry, and foods were being sold. Knowing Spanish definitely came in handy here when bargaining for prices! What really caught my eye were the beautiful scarves being sold at one of the stands, stitched with vibrant colors and made from alpaca wool, a material commonly used in Peru.

At the conclusion of the trip, I boarded the plane back to the United States carrying so many great memories with me. From the food, to the breathtaking sights, to the welcoming people we met, this trip to Peru was full of new and exciting experiences that helped me learn about a culture and history I had never been exposed to before. Traveling is a perfect opportunity to open up your mind about the world, and if it’s something you’d like to do, too, a great way to do that is through programs at your school or in your community!

Poem: I Am A Puerto Rican Woman

Flag_of_Puerto_Rico.svgby Sandra Diaz

I Am A Puerto Rican Woman
And You Will Not Experiment On Me.

Gone are the days of eradicating our babies
Sterilization of our population
No consent castration
Making us an empty shell of our former self

Maria’s and Jose’s…
Vanished from Our wombs
Brown Castano skin
Pupils of wonder,
Innocence ripped from within
Our rights strip away with wire hanger abortions
Performed with Pulled the life from us operations

A Boriquen Women
Concentration Elimination
Tidal wave to exterminate the unfortunate subjects
Transplanting Cancer cells on Our Men is no exception
Abuse and torture poison radiation
Social worker house to house
Face to face Discrimination

Thousands of Sisters and Mothers
Told and convinced
That they should no longer conceive
Threatening,
Scaring and Scarring the life out of me

Silent about the Experimental Birth control test trial
Birth place Induced abuse
Couldn’t stop me from coming
My spirit just wouldn’t be stopped
I’m here to speak
Yeah
Now what.
Back to Back Fertility control
Racist attitude Policy must go
In a Civilized Society this should never take place
Contraception Mis-information
Nevermore will be accepted
By the Beautiful Taino Race

Misleading propaganda was taught in schools
White Picket Fence Promises
Builds mistrust, Are we alliances?

“La Operacion”

Had naive daughters fooled
100 percent; Child bearing age
Two doctors to check if tubes were tied
They’re natural born experts on deceit and lies

Irreversible mistakes
Fifty a Day.
Does not a good decision make
National Intended Genocide
Cannot bring the unborn back

Curvy, intelligent, Feministas
Will not permit; anyone instill
That educated decisions are too complicated
That we don’t have…. Free will does not exist
To just take the Magic Pill

Were here to stay
Our Cultura is Strong
We’ve come a long way
Women of Color, Coming together
We carry on
Where there’s courage, we cant go wrong
We’ve progress with Pride intact
We’ve been quiet for far too long

Too many side effects to be acceptable
So with a shout and a heart felt scream
Were taking Authority on our God Given Dream.
Compliance is not our Grandmothers Option
The unwilling Pioneer found A Solution
Our Resolute is our Revolution

A Puerto Rican Female
Who Believes In
YES WE CAN!
And like I said
You Will Never Experiment On Us
Again!

Covered Up? Become a Fall Fashionista

Don’t you think it’s a little chilly in the fall?  Is your inner fashionista being covered up? You don’t always have to suffer for the sake of fashion. There are many ways to be comfortable and still stay stylish. Learn how to express your sense of fashion while still being zipped up. By following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to dominating the fall season with your style.

Pick the right jacket

The most important thing about the fall is trying to stay warm and cozy. Since the fall ends up transitioning into winter, these fashion tips can help you stay stylish for the next months to come! Picking a good yet cute jacket is the first step into becoming a fall fashionista. There are many options such as short jackets, medium sized jackets, and even sweaters that can be found at many stylish stores for a good price. Pay attention to what clothing and accessories that you already own when it comes to picking the color and style of your jacket, since it could potentially impact your wardrobe choice as well.

 Color Coordination 

Color coordination is one of the most important factors when it comes to fall fashion. Because the weather can be unpredictable at times, it might affect your jacket choice as well. Looking at your wardrobe, try to pick out colors that match or blend well with your jacket. Remember that you shouldn’t accessorize your look with the same color. So if you’re wearing a black jacket, accessorizing with brighter colors will help brighten up your outfit while wearing dark colored accessories will help cool down a bright colored one. If you currently don’t have anything that goes well with your jacket, then going shopping or borrowing items from your friends is always an option.

Bottom wear

One of the final steps into becoming a fall fashionista is picking the right bottom wear. Once you have remembered to color coordinate and organize your outfit, picking the right kind of bottom wear can make or break your style. Denim will always be a classic choice, so, as long as it blends well with the rest of your outfit, go for it! If you want to add a girly flare into your fall style, then a circle skirt is a great choice to incorporate into your style. Also, if you’re a fashionista who can’t stay away from shorts then that can be a possible option with leggings!

Hairstyles & Hair Accessories

Something that a jacket can’t cover up is a chica’s hair, and that is why the fall season will give you the opportunity to play around with your hair. You can curl, straighten and style your hair to help show off that you can still be a fall fashionista while also being cozy. If you don’t have the time to style your hair, then there are plenty of accessories in this world that can be just as stylish! From hats, to hair scrunchies, to hair clips, be creative! Remember to try to coordinate what you do to your hair with the jacket and outfit that you have chosen to wear.

Footwear

There are so many different options of footwear for the fall. The possibilities are endless such as shoe wedges, heels, boots, sandals, etc. Depending on the setting and occasion, footwear can take you a long way. Because you are covered up for the fall, try to work with the clothing and accessories surrounding your jacket. Fashion is a girls best friend, and cute footwear can help you walk the streets like a runaway model all season long. Since most jackets don’t cover up your footwear, try to use the fall season to express your fashion through footwear!

Need help cording an outfit? Here are bonus styling tips:

  • By wearing this leather styled jacket, you are showing your brave and wild sense of fashion. A pair of slightly ripped jeans will always be a classic that will add a little more flare to your wardrobe. Since this jacket has dark tones, try to accessorize with lighter colors to balance the colors of your outfit. Light pinks and reds will also go well with black. Plus, they will contrast well with denim tones. These light colored accessories are simple, stylish, and make your outfit pop!

Fall Fashion 1

  • If you decide that dark tones aren’t for you and instead want to elegantly stand out, then this light pink pea coat might be the right choice for you! Cool down your overall look with a black circle skirt that is accompanied with leggings. Now, you don’t always have to cool down your bright tones, it’s okay to emphasize them sometimes! Heeled sneakers are very stylish and comfortable at times. By adding a little flare to your girly look, you’ll be stepping up your fashionista game. Complimenting your outfit with some splashes of red will work with your overall look. Make sure to end your look with class, simple and stylish pearl earrings.

Fall Fashion 2

  • If you are looking for a simple yet fun style, this red letterman styled jacket could be a possible choice! Accompanying the look with denim shorts will help bring out the red color some more. Cute black leggings are always a good accessory since it’s fall season. Putting a few flashes of pink accessories will help your outfit stand out even more. Finish your look with some stylish tassel boots. The brown color will help soften your brighter tones and balance out your overall style.
    Fall Fashion 3

 

You’ll be able to strut your stuff wherever you go by following these simple steps. Remember that fashion doesn’t have to be expensive. You can go to many affordable shops that sell the same styled clothing as its bigger and more expensive competitors. Remember to pick a jacket that you will plan to use for the next few months and try to organize your wardrobe with it. With organization and patience, you will be on your way to becoming a fall fashionista!

Discovering the Benefits of Yoga

988693_312767932201750_669936676_nYoga is a great form of exercise, both in the physical and mental realm. According to the American Yoga Association, yoga has been around for more than 5,000 years; there are ancient stone carvings found in the Indus Valley of figures doing traditional yoga positions. It grew in popularity in the United States around the 1960s, and is widely used to improve physical health. Yoga is used to help alleviate back pain, reduce depression, and the risk of heart disease. It is also used as a way to help in managing stress and can serve as a form of meditation. It is composed of exercise of the body, careful breathing techniques, and meditation of the mind.

This form of exercise can help you get active and improve your elasticity, while also helping to keep your heart healthy, and by helping you achieve patience and relaxation. Yoga can help you to let go of negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. It is known to be a great way to find inner peace, and to center oneself. Taking the lessons learned through practice of yoga and translating them into your life can be a great way of improving the way you deal with situations in your everyday life.

Cassandra Salas-Porras has been a student of Yoga for 13 years, and been a Yoga instructor for 2 years, earning her yoga teaching certification in Bali, Indonesia. In giving a class to girls at the Latinitas Healthy Chica camp this past summer, she went through various poses, and instructed the girls to “inhale courage, exhale fear.” She shared the following about her experience with yoga, and how she thinks it can be helpful in one’s life.

“Yoga can help with confidence, in trust with oneself and towards others, with physical health and with body image, with quality of sleep, in relationships towards others, with anxiety, stress, maybe a little depression, sadness, and patience. Really, it helps with anything life throws at you. You learn how to manage these things in the best way possible,” Cassandra shared.

“I started when I was 18 or 19 years old, but the younger you start, you grow up surfing through life in an easier way. I see my life as before and after. It has helped me be truer to myself and to have congruence and coherence in my life, and to be healthy in mind, body, and soul,” she added.

Cassandra shared that yoga is tough, but rewarding, and has brought an inner strength to her life. Finding a way to get active that is enjoyable and fun is the perfect way to stay healthy. Yoga may be that outlet for you! If you’re interested in what yoga can bring to your life, don’t be afraid to try out a class for the first time or search for more information about it. It could turn out to be life-changing for you, too!

Politically Active Latinas

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) is moving forward several strategies to help empower the Latino community. Through trainings, outreach and advocacy efforts, NHLA works to identify and support entry-level through Cabinet-level candidates pursuing presidential appointments. They have been involved in supporting the rise of several Latino professionals now serving in some of the highest ranks in government, including U.S. Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta and Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet.

NHLA_Logo_Vertical_Hi_Res

NHLA has also launched LatinasRepresent, a joint initiative of Political Parity and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, to call out the lack of elected Latina leaders and change the political landscape to reflect all Americans. Though there are over 25 million Latinas in the U.S., just 109 of the 8,236 seats in state and national political office are held by Latinas. The project stems from research that involved interviews, national polls, and focus groups.

Since the launch in February of 2014, NHLA has hosted LatinasRepresent forums in Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C. and San Antonio to spotlight Latina leaders and to embolden more Latinas to pursue public service leadership roles. NHLA has a digital campaign with the latinasrepresent.org web site; over 70 videos on the LatinasRepresent Youtube Channel, Google+ Hangouts with Latina leaders including journalist Maria Hinojosa, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and civil rights legend Dolores Huerta. Conversations and stories of inspiring Latinas are also regularly shared on Twitter, via the hashtag #LatinasRepresent.

When asked why Latinas are underrepresented in high-government positions, Melody Gonzalez, Presidential Appointments Program Director at NHLA, said, “I think Latinas are natural-born leaders. The problem isn’t necessarily that Latinas don’t want to serve in leadership roles or run for office — the problem is that we need to be more intentional about tackling institutional barriers and about building alliances so that Latinas can be better poised to run and win…I’ve been really inspired to see that in every city we go to, nearly 200 women come out to support the LatinasRepresent event — and many of them are voicing their interest in one day running for office. The more we lift up stories of successful Latina elected officials and candidates, and the more communities come together to take action on this element of underrepresentation, the more we’ll start to see the political landscape change.”

But what about those Latinitas that feel they are not ready to run for office but want to be involved with positive change in our community? Melody had some great advice for us as well.

“There are so many ways for Latinas of all ages to make an impact and become involved in the political process,” said Melody, “Register to vote, make sure that every eligible voter around you is registered to vote, and make sure the circle of voters you know actually show up on election day to vote.”

Other great ways for Latinitas to bring change to their community are:

  • Intern and work for elected officials in your local government, at your state capitol, and in the U.S. Congress.
  • Ask a community leader or elected official to serve as a mentor.
  • Volunteer, work and/or fundraise for the campaign of a candidate you believe in.
  • Explore paid internships and careers in the federal government through usajobs.gov.
  • Apply for professional and leadership development programs organized by great organizations like the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Council of La Raza Lideres Program, National Hispana Leadership Institute, US Hispanic Leadership Institute, Voto Latino, and others. A great new online resource to explore for programs and scholarship opportunities is https://www.chcinextopp.net/.
  • Be intentional about building a network of real, lasting relationships with people who support you. Write down a list of your leadership goals and talk to your circle of mentors and supporters about your goals. Ask your support network for their help and ideas to help you achieve those goals.
  • Consider running for office — and encourage wise Latinas around you to run for office.

If you are interested in learning more about NHLA, visit: http://nationalhispanicleadership.org

Poetry: Drifting Thoughts

Photo Credit: Scubaexplorer.net

Photo Credit: Scubaexplorer.net

Drifting Thoughts  by Andrea Barreto

I keep my heart where blue kisses gold,
near sand that sparkles like the facets of a diamond.
Sunlight beats down, reflecting off the constant waves.
These waves gleam golden for the day, then fade to an incandescent glow in the silver light of night.
With every splash against the shore, another doubt slips away.

The night brings darkness, a comforting shadow over droning worries made harsh by the day.
Bright moon and faint light soothe lingering thoughts of uncertainty and self-doubt.
In the dark my senses are heightened,
each grain of sand delightfully coarse against my skin,
and each wave lapping gently against my feet as they wash away the troubles of my soul and mend the wounds in my heart.
The sun will return as night gives way to day, but in this moment I am alone in the dark,
and, with the moon, my uneasiness wanes away.

Dressing For a Petite Frame

For many Latinas and girls of Hispanic ethnicity, being petite comes with the territory. While this is not true for every Latina, for those who are, it can be challenging to find something to wear that is both flattering, and not made to fit a small child. Being petite has its perks. The petite frame allows for shorter (but not too short) skirts, the ability to wear a nice pump or wedge and not look ridiculous, and the bragging rights to being “fun sized.”

Here are some tips on finding clothes that celebrate and flatter a small frame and some that give the illusion of a couple of added inches:

1. The Pencil Skirt Might Not Be Your Friend

For things like interviews and semi formal events, avoid the pencil skirt. They are most likely snug in all the wrong places and too lengthy. You want to be comfortable and chic at an interview; instead, opt for a flowy A-line skirt that will hit at your knee or just above it.

2. Matching Tights and Shoes

In the fall and winter seasons, wear solid colored tights underneath your skirts or shorts with matching shoes for a lengthier illusion on your legs. For example, if you are wearing black tights beneath a dress, opt for black shoes for a longer leg illusion.

3. Avoid Ankle Cuffs

Shoes that cuff, or stop at the ankle, can make a short frame appear shorter.  For this reason, look for shoes that don’t cut off the view from your leg to your foot. Ballet flats, sandals, and/or pumps won’t make you appear shorter as long as they don’t have a cuff.

4. Peplum Blouses

Shirts that cinch at the waist and flare out look great on pretty much everyone. Peplum blouses especially show off a curvy figure and look great no matter your height. This type of shirt or dress is always flattering, and having one or two in your closet handy for a special occasion, or even just a day where you don’t want to wear jeans and a t-shirt is a must.

getting dressed

5. Maxi skirts and Dresses

Maxi length bottoms and dresses might make you turn away with thoughts of tripping over the pretty hem, but have no fear. You too can rock a maxi skirt without stumbling. The key to wearing a maxi skirt is making sure it fits your waist nicely and that the length comes down just over your feet and not an inch longer. This is different if you choose to wear wedges or heels with this piece, and in this case you can afford for your skirt to drag if you try it on without these shoes.

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