Ellen Ochoa is Out of This World

Ellen_OchoaEllen Ochoa is a Latina who has impressed the world with her intelligence and ambition. A California native, she studied physics at San Diego State University and graduated in 1980 with a bachelor of science degree. A short year later, she graduated from Stanford University with a masters of science degree in electrical engineering. If that wasn’t impressive enough, in 1985 she earned her doctorate degree in electrical engineering. Personally, I think anyone who studies physics and electrical engineering in general deserves all the accolades possible, but earning a doctorate in this field from one of the most prestigious universities in the world is AMAZING. Plus, women weren’t expected to be outstanding in the STEM fields.

Ellen Ochoa is so important to the Hispanic community because she literally took Latino pride and carried it to a place outside of this world. Ellen Ochoa’s ambition and hard work earned her a “first” title. In 1993, as a part of the mission aboard the Discovery, Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to travel to space. Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t it just fill you with pride and a warm feeling in your heart?!

Today, Ochoa is the director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. When she took over the position on January 1, 2013, she became the first Hispanic woman and second women ever to be director at the Johnson Space Center.

Ellen Ochoa is definitely a pride to all Latinas.

Our Warrior, Sor Juana

Thanks to all the feminist movements of the past, today women around privileged countries have an opportunity to pursue their educational goals. One of the first feminists in history, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, fought to have her voice heard. Sor Juana Ines was born in a time when women were voiceless. She was born in San Miguel Nepantla in New Spain, now known as México. She was a nun, a poet and a writer. Her strongest weapons: her knowledge, pen and paper.  They are elements that do not receive as much credit today.

Sorjuana

As a female of the 17th century, she had little access to education. She began to read and write at the age of three in her grandfather’s library. If she married her thirst for education would be threatened; in 1969, she took her vows at the Convent of Santa Paula of the Hieronymite. Little did she know that her education and writing would be silenced.

In a conversation with the Bishop of Puebla, she critiqued a sermon delivered by Portuguese Jesuit Antonio de Vieira. The bishop asked her to put her opinion in writing. In 1691, he published it without her knowledge or consent. Along with this text, the bishop included a letter condemning her intellectualism as a woman. In retaliation, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz wrote “Respuesta a Sor Filotea.”  In this letter, she condemns the Catholic Church for not supporting women’s rights to have an education and explains that education can be used to serve God. This resulted in censorship; she was not allowed to publish her writing and was forced to give her books away.

LaGuardia Community College Professor, Ana Maria Hernández states, “Juana was a woman alone against the might of the church and the might of the ground. She certainly rose to the circumstances, certainly rose to trace a trail for women who came afterwards.”

Sor Juana Ines’ trail was followed in United States by women’s rights activists in the mid- 19th century. Her voice should serve as an inspiration to many. She fought battle for women yet she was the only soldier.

It is sad to say that the battle for women’s equality continues today. According to National Committee on Pay Equity, women only make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Women’s pay checks for the same job are about a quarter less than men’s. How is this fair?

Examiner, Worcester Catholic Women’s Issues writer, Patricia Clark mentions, ”her battle for equality for women in every aspect of life, but especially in education, should serve to inspire young and old women everywhere who occasionally forget, due to the clamor of the superficial values of the culture, that it’s not what adorns the head from without that makes the woman a beauty, but rather that which embellishes and stirs it within.”

If Sor Juana hadn’t fought against the stereotypes in a male dominated society, today women wouldn’t be able to fight for equal pay doing the same jobs as men. Women do much more than men today; they are employees, mothers and wives. The least they deserve is equal pay.

Women in the United States have a louder voice than many others around the globe. We have a right to vote, drive and work unlike countries where only males rule. If women’s voices unite to demand equality, change will come. Soon other nations will follow, such as Pakistan by having Malala Yousafzai as an activist. Great battles have leaders, but they also have soldiers. Women are strong beings, capable of so many wonders. They are equal to men; therefore they deserve the same rights.

Klassy the Chica Lyricist

Photo by JDF Films

Photo by JDF Films

A brand new MC from Los Angeles, CA is taking over the L.A. rap scene. An MC describes a word rapper in the hip hop scene, but the term is not limited to the word play of hip hop. Klassy is a 17 year old Filipino chica who began her career in the ninth grade. Her real name is Graciela Moreno, but she prefers to be addressed as Klassy.

“My goal is to open my people’s minds, to see life in a positive angle, to live life in tranquil and understand true happiness. I want to spark inspiration. To change a bad mood into a good mood is worth more than money,” she explains.

Klassy grew up around the Latino population of Los Angeles. She is a sophomore at VAPA, the Visual and Performing Arts school in L.A. Her Filipino background did not limit her ability to take hip hop in the direction she did.

“It started off as almost a bet. I was around my friends who didn’t think I could rap, but I did it. I recorded a song and uploaded it [to the internet] and the next day my manager and I saw that it had a lot of views,” Klassy shares.

Klassy takes on the approach as a positive lyricist. She uses this label to describe her role in the underground music industry. “When I listen to music I can say that listening to powerful messages is the kind of music I want to surround myself with. I surround myself with positive people and I hope other girls or other people see that in my lyrics,” she says.

Unlike many other girl lyricists, Klassy is among the youngest. “My manager tells me, ‘You know you’re getting a lot of attention, but I am myself. I am looking at all from the inside out,’ she adds.

Vanessa Olivar, 16, says, “Klassy as a rapper is so cool. Her videos on YouTube are not like other artists. She doesn’t need to drink to have a good time. She shows herself dancing and playing arcade games, things that I like to do.”

“I think it’s great that girls look up to me, but I don’t like labels. When people want to limit me as a ‘girl rapper’ I get freaked. I am an MC. A girl lyricist only limits my potential. It creates a boundary with men and women. I prefer the term lyricist. I create music for everyone and anyone,” Klassy shares.

Genises Polito, 15, says, “I listen to her. I think she is so cool. She really is all about having a fun time…as herself. I like her music.”

Klassy adds, “People have questioned my rap abilities, but as an artist [I] realized there will always be haters, but I do notice that there are more Latinas and Latinos supporting the movement that I am in.”

A femcee, or female rapper, is no different than the similar lifestyles that Latinas or Latinos have with other ethnicities and cultures. Klassy explains, “If people are truly going to look at me and try to break me down because I am not a Latino or Latina then they are creating limits to my potential.”

The wave of female rappers is changing the way people look at hip hop . Hip hop was once dominated by males. Becky G, a teen Latina sensation from Inglewood, CA, was recently nominated by Radio Disney Music Award for Best Crush Song.

Klassy says, “It feels great to be among them, though I still say that I do it because it is something I am good at. I am me. I am an MC. I rap, I create music. I believe in myself. I have more people believing in me than haters and that there is enough for me to continue to do what makes me happy which is to create music.”

You too can take steps in promoting and surrounding yourself with the arts. Attend and become a member of the theater arts groups and attending poetry beats are good ways to start. You can only become better at what you are good at.

“The key to success for [anyone] is having a focused mind. Just be true to yourself, stay humble, and remember that there’s always room for improvement. I want to continue making music and if people like what I say then that is a motivator to continue to share my experiences, ideas and feelings,” she says.

 

Spotlight on Bella Thorne

Have you seen this girl before? C’mon, of course you have! You probably just don’t know that you have.

Cuban-American Annabella Avery Thorne started modeling since she was a baby, appearing in ads and commercials. So if her face looks a little familiar, it’s okay, you’re not going crazy! Bella, who’s currently 16, is becoming the next Disney sensation thanks to the show Shake it Up.  So why not get to know more about this multi-talented, energetic, and inspiring tween beyond just her face?

Did you know that at only six-weeks-old, Bella shot her first pictorial for “Parents Magazine”? That’s impressive!

Bella+Thorne+bt1

Bella was born in Florida but has been moving from an early age to California and New York to pursue her acting career. A surprising fact about Bella is that her native language is Spanish, since her dad is Cuban. She also is of  Irish and Italian descent. Talk about multiculturalism!

Bella was diagnosed with dyslexia in the first grade.  In an April 2010 interview with American Cheerleader Magazine, Bella explained that she overcame her dyslexia by always reading everything she could find, including the labels of cereal boxes. Up-to-date, she has appeared in more than 40 commercials. She starred in three DLP ads and became famous for her catchy line, “It’s amazing, it’s the mirrors!”

She proudly claims her mother has been her role model while pursuing her acting career.  Besides acting, Bella enjoys hiking, swimming, snorkeling, dancing, and painting.  She also loves Twilight (and is Team Jacob). Furthermore, she loves 80s music!

In an interview for Bella’s Official Fansite, when asked if she preferred modeling or acting, she responded with “modeling is quicker and I love fashion, but acting is fun to be different people. I’m starting to like acting more, but I still love modeling.”

Bella enjoys volunteering with The Nomad Organization, a group which offers education, food, and medical supplies to deprived children in Africa. She currently sponsors a child named Lydia Kanini Kiio in Kibwezi, Kenya. She hopes to better her community by encouraging more teens to volunteers and make a difference in the world. She says, “I would not be opposed to a mandatory time in community service for all teens!”

Without a doubt, Disney’s Shake it Up star has become extremely successful these past two years.  Still, wherever there’s fame and success, the dark downhill spiral is not too far behind. But no worries, it looks like Bella knows what she is doing! This is what she had to say on the subject of responsibility:

“I don’t think it is any actor’s responsibility to be a role model. I think it is your family that sets the standards, and kids can’t look to Hollywood to do that for them. We are all human and make mistakes and it is a ton of pressure to grow up in front of the camera and have the whole world comment on your errors.”

So what lies ahead for Bella’s future? On March 30, 2013, it was confirmed by Hollywood Records via Twitter that Bella was officially signed to the record label.  She also landed a role in the comedy The Familymoon, along with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

Well done, Bella! Keep up the good work!

 

Latinas Leading the Fight Against Human Trafficking

While Blockbuster films and news media portray human trafficking as a problem that takes place across our oceans, many Latinas are working to shatter that myth and inform Americans that this criminal act exists near their schools and on their playgrounds.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 300 thousand children – of various ages, genders, classes, races and ethnicities – are trafficked for sex in the United States every year. This figure doesn’t reflect those trafficked for labor or the number of adults also being trafficked within the U.S.

Recognizing this exploitation, Latinas – young and old – are taking a stand against this modern form of slavery.  They are joining forces with other people and organizations to spread awareness, instill programs and laws that prevent trafficking and consul victims of sex slavery.

In Washington D.C., Dr. Carolina De Los Rios is serving as the Director of Client Services for the Polaris Project, a non-profit anti-trafficking organization.

She supervises case managers, social workers and fellows who work directly with victims of human trafficking. Her team provides survivors with counseling, emergency housing and more specialized assistance all intended to help and to rebuild their lives.

“Seeing survivors after you have helped them in an emergency situation is so rewarding,” De Los Rios said. “You’ve seen one of the worst moments of their lives, and then you see them after you and the team worked so hard – smiling, getting their GED, going to college. You see them thriving with their life, and then I know it makes sense what I’m doing.”

Del Los Rios, a Colombian, believes that being a Latina has given her a unique lens in her fight against trafficking.

“Being Latina makes me more aware about the challenges that you experience as a Latina, and it makes me more sensitive to the different challenges that women and girls experience,” Del Los Rios said.

She also said that although all young people are vulnerable to being recruited, Latinas who just immigrated to the U.S., who don’t speak the language and who don’t know how the system works here, may be in an even more vulnerable position.

Public interest attorney Norma Ramos understands that vulnerability firsthand.

The now executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) was once a child in New York’s foster care system.

“I always felt a strong sensitivity about human beings who are being commercially and sexually exploited,” said Ramos. “I felt that that could have so easily been me – I still feel that way.”

At CATW, the world’s first organization to fight human trafficking internationally, Ramos raises awareness about human trafficking and promotes the Nordic model – laws that penalize the demand for commercial sex and decriminalize victims of the commercial sex industry – as an approach to combat human trafficking.

“When a country passes the Nordic model, I’m very happy,” said Ramos. “Norway passed the Nordic model, then Iceland followed. These were ‘break out the champagne’ moments for me.”

Ramos, who is Puerto Rican, also hopes to encourage young people and Latinas to take a stand against injustice.

“The world has too little political courage; it’s the No. 1 disappointment for me when I see people not risk something in order to change and end a social injustice.”

A few hundred miles east of Ramos is a young Latina in Connecticut whose political courage would make Ramos very proud.

Ana Alarcon is a high school senior and anti-human trafficking advocate.

The 17-year-old Colombian recently traveled to Washington D.C. for the National Youth Summit on Abolition, where she was a panelist alongside human trafficking experts like Wesleyan University professor Lois A. Brown, founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Foundation Kenneth Morris Jr., and U.S. Ambassador in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking Luis CdeBaca.

As a young Latina, Alarcon’s voice and perspective was very unique at the event.

“It feels very empowering as a young person and as a female and as a Latina. There are generally a lot of men in this field,” Alarcon said. “I feel like I could give a voice to different groups, I feel honored, and I feel like I could give other people a sense of ‘you can do this, too.’”

The young Latina hopes to continue her advocacy beyond high school. She was recently accepted into Fordham University, where she will be studying international relations.

“Human trafficking is just a link to so many world issues – poverty, drugs, abuse – it’s all interconnected. If I can stop one thing, it will be a chain reaction to cause peace somewhere else,” Alarcon said.

Like Ramos, Alarcon also wants girls her age to be courageous.

“If you want to do anything, you could absolutely do it. Just because you’re a girl, a minority or you’re young doesn’t mean you can’t do something important or be someone important,” Alarcon said.

If interested in connecting with anti-human trafficking services near you or to obtain free training materials to help you with your advocacy, visit: http://www.polarisproject.org/what-we-do/national-human-trafficking-hotline/the-nhtrc/overview.

 

Latina Poets You Should Know

When we think of great poets we may automatically think of Shakespeare or maybe even Emily Dickinson, but did you know that for many years Latinas have also excelled in poetry writing? Plenty of Latina poets have received awards and universal recognition for their poetry collections. Poetry is also what helped secure the first Nobel Peace Prize ever awarded to a Latina. Latina poetry explores a variety of styles and themes and is often inspired by the poets’ beautiful and sometimes painful cultural experiences. Poetry has been responsible for giving many Latinas the strong voice they need to share their unique stories with the world. Here are some amazing Latina poets you should check out.

Sandra Cisneros 

Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican American author who was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Sandra may be best known for her novel The House on Mango Street, but she is also a talented poet. Sandra’s poetry reflects her own personal experiences with identity, poverty, cultural stereotypes, and feminism. Some of Sandra’s poetry collections include Bad BoysMy Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman. After 45 years as an author, Sandra continues to write and it is her love for writing that encouraged her to start several foundations which aim to advance the success of writers in Texas.

 

 

 

Julia de Burgos

 Julia de Burgos is considered to be one of the first Latina poets and one of the greatest Puerto Rican poets of all time. While Julia’s poetry reflects her love for her country and nature, her poems also reflect her advocacy for Puerto Rican independence. Julia’s poems highlight some of the social struggles going on in Puerto Rico at the time of her writing. Some of her more famous works are El Rio Grande de Loiza,  Poema para Mi Muerte (My Death Poem), and Yo Misma Fui Mi Ruta (I Was My Own Path). Julia received many awards and recognitions for her poetry during her lifetime and after her death she had several monuments built in her name both in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

 

Pat Mora

Pat Mora is the author of several poetry collections for adults and young adults including Dizzy In Your Eyes: Poems about Love and My Own True Name. Common themes in Mora’s poetry are Mexican American culture, bilingualism and the southwest where she grew up. Mora has also received several awards for her poetry collections for adults which include BordersChantsand Communion. Mora currently works as a literacy advocate for her self-founded initiative “El día de los niños/El día de los libros,” which is an effort to connect children with the joy of reading.

 

 

 

  Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez is a Dominican American poet and novelist. Julia was born in New York City but spent most of her childhood in the Dominican Republic. Her experience as an immigrant  influenced much of her writing. Her poetry collections include The Woman I Kept To MyselfHomecoming and The Other Side/El Otro Lado. Julia’s poetry explores themes of identity, assimilation and cultural expectations of women. Alvarez has won several awards for her poetry and some of her poetry manuscripts are on display in the New York Public Library.

 

 

 

 

Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral was a Chilean poet and the only Latin American woman to ever win a Nobel Prize in Literature. Her most famous poem, Sonetos de la muerte,  was inspired by the suicide of her lover, and themes of love, suffering and pain were a constant in her following poems. Gabriela was also an educator and spent most of her life traveling and working as an education reformer. Though she is not as well-known in the 20th century, her poems laid the groundwork for many of today’s Latina feminist poets.

 

 

 

Rising Latina Filmmakers

When looking through the films that have been directed by Latino filmmakers, it is very rare to see a Latina director in the independent film and motion picture industry. Our community of Latino filmmakers range from Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids) to the rising successful director Youssef Delara, the director of Filly Brown –  a Sundance Favorite and Jenni Rivera’s last performance. We have a lot of talented and renowned Latino filmmakers but where are the Latina filmmakers?

There are Latina filmmakers currently rising from different communities with an amazing gift of story-telling and beautiful sense of imagery in their films. A couple of Latina filmmakers that should be highlighted for their work and passion for filmmaking are Fanny Véliz, Sandra Varona and Cheyann Montiel Reagan. All three of these rising Latina filmmakers are working their way to the top as they create amazing film projects and take on many film festivals. These inspiring role models have high hopes of having major movie studios bring their films to the big-screen and of getting their names out there with other amazing film directors of our time!

Fanny Véliz is a very diverse award winning Latina filmmaker that has created  brilliant short films. Not only does Fanny direct and produce her own work but she is also involved with writing and acting in some of her films! One of the amazing things about Fanny, besides the multiple roles she plays during the production of her films, is her desire to hire and work with an all Latino cast/crew. Her goal is to change the way Latinos are portrayed in films by creating very unique and groundbreaking stories about various types of Latino families. Fanny tells the National Association of Latino Independent Producers that she is “committed to helping transform the image of Latinos in the media by telling stories that are not usually told . . . We are all used to seeing stories of immigration, gangs and other stereotypes, this film shows another side of the American Latino.  . .”.

Fanny’s latest project is her first ever feature film, Homebound, which tells the story of a young man who returns home to Texas and helps run his family’s bar due to his father becoming ill from cancer. The film has already screened at a couple of film festivals which include the XicanIndie Film Festival in Denver, Reel Rasquache in East Los Angeles and the Screen Actor Guild. Her film has been receiving praise from various audiences and the goal is for this film to be shown in more film festivals and eventually movie theaters throughout the country; thus, showcasing the Latino community and herself as a filmmaker. She is truly a great example of an independent filmmaker that started off by making short films and is now being featured in major film events and festivals.

Sandra Varona is also a rising Latina filmmaker who produces music videos, short films and feature films, including the Sundance favorite Filly Brown. For the film, she was the unit Production Manager who specialized in decision-making when it came to the film’s budget. Varona has produced over 20 music videos “for artists such as- El Roockie, Mexican pop band Kinky, R&B artist Vaughn Anthony (the younger brother and label-mate of John Legend), Grammy Nominated artist Eric Roberson and most recently rap artist Waka Flocka.” And she continues to skyrocket into various productions such as a documentary pilot about the roots of Latin HipHop and a Sci-Fi Documentary Pilot with Cheyann Montiel Reagan. Sandra also established a special film club at LACC (Los Angeles Community College) at the age of 19, to “provide students with film production resources and group tours to film related companies and art organizations such as Panavision and Cinegear.” Sandra is truly a great help and influence to the Latino community of Los Angeles and her role as a producer will go far in life.

Another great Latina filmmaker is Cheyann Montiel Reagan, who directs, produces, writes and stars in some of her film projects. Reagan has a couple of award winning short films (Salud and No Shelter Here) from various film festivals and is currently pitching a couple of feature films and TV pilots to major movie studios! One of her biggest projects was her first web series Off and Running,  which tells the story of a young woman that is searching for her forever job with the help of her friends. One reason that Cheyann made this series was to influence viewers to find their forever job. According to the Off and Running’s Facebook page, “your ‘Forever Job; could be found and lived but when the next phase of your life happens you don’t quit, because your ‘Forever Job’ is your life’s essence”.

The series was released on Youtube last summer and has 15,000+ views for all seven episodes! The series has also toured in various schools and conferences to inspire students and figures in the Latino community to push for more Latinos to enter the arts and film world and to show their creativity and imagination. Cheyann spoke as the Influencer of Media Entertainment at the 4th Annual Silicon Valley Latino Leadership Summit in May to influence industry giants and others to push for a bigger impact for the next generation of Latinos to go into the arts and follow their ultimate dream job! Cheyann is another key influence for the number of young Latinas that dream of becoming a successful filmmaker!

These Latinas have created films that have influenced and showcased the Latino community  by creating truly real and groundbreaking stories about struggle, hope and fighting for your dreams. These ladies push for a bigger impact for Latinas to express themselves through films as they represent themselves in film festivals. These ladies not only represent their films but they represent the future filmmaker and future influence for young Latinas that dream about becoming a director, writer or cinematographer. These ladies will continue to create more and more films in the hopes of becoming a known filmmaker in the film industry and every Latina should have the same passion and drive that these ladies have.

And don’t be surprised if you see any of these ladies at the Academy Awards in the near future! These ladies are some of the many rising Latina filmmakers that are making a name for themselves and there will be more Latinas that will be following right behind them.

Honoring Gloria Anzaldúa

Gloria Anzaldúa was instrumental in the Chicana/o Movement as an activist, writer, teacher, cultural and queer theorist, and feminist. She was born in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas in 1942. After receiving her triple Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, art and education from Pan American University in Texas, her writing became a central part of her activism. Her most influential work was “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza,”  a mix of biography and theory that includes several literary styles, from poetry to art, in a blend of English and Spanish. “Borderlands,” belongs to a genre all its own: autohistoria-teoría. It is a truly inspirational work.  Anzaldúa died of diabetes complications in 2004.

As a part of the Chicano Movement, Anzaldúa noticed the sexism that plagued it. Women were not allowed in positions of leadership within the Movement, despite being crucial to its advancement. Anzaldúa did not think the feminist movement was anymore inclusive, having experienced classism and racism from white feminists. Anzaldúa focused most of her writing on addressing these issues, and in 1981 together with Cherríe Moraga, co-edited “This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color.”

Honoring Anzaldúa:

A celebration to honor the Chicana activist’s life, legacy, and work was done at the 2nd Annual Gloria Anzaldúa luncheon, held at the University of Texas at Austin. UT’s Queer People of Color and Allies (QPOCA), a student organization for the education, empowerment, and visibility of queer people of color, organize the annual luncheon. The luncheon was started because QPOCA students felt Anzaldúa was not sufficiently recognized the way other activists of color were on campus, such as Barbara Jordan or Martin Luther King Jr.

Kim Crosby, a grassroots community educator, brought an inspirational energy to the conference, declaring, “Our anger at injustice is a powerful catalyst for change.”

Recently, the Librotraficante created an Underground Gloria Anzaldúa Library to help raise awareness about the Arizona ban on ethnic studies. Other celebrations of Anzaldúa’s life has taken place across multiple campus, including the creation of the  Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldua.

Anzaldúa’s work and legacy is important because it provided Latinas, especially lesbian/queer Latinas, new levels of visibility. More importantly, Anzaldúa inspired a new generation of Chicanas/Latinas/Tejanas to produce theory, art, and writing that resist oppression. Anzaldúa helped inspire future activists, such as Crosby, to continue theorizing and participating in revolutionary politics.

Career Spotlight: Marketing Manager

Name:
Michelle Raphael

Position and Title:
Associate Marketing Manager for the Power To End Stroke campaign

Employer:
American Heart Association in Dallas, TX

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I manage all of the online properties for the Power To End Stroke movement and Vida Saludable, a healthy living site for Latinos. These include the social media channels, the website and other online programs and activities.

What is your educational background?
I earned my Bachelor of Science at the University of Texas at Austin with an Advertising major. College may not necessarily prepare you for everything at your job, but it will help you to work with others, build on your creativity and learn how to make decisions.

How did you find your current job?
I had always wanted to work at a non-profit. Knowing that you are helping others through your work gives you the motivation to wake up every morning!

What inspires you most about your job?
I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.   I am all about helping people make health a lifestyle and not a chore. You can specifically see this through the work I’ve done in the Powerful Living and Vida Saludable campaigns.

When you are young, it can be easy to think that you will never be unhealthy. The truth is, the habits you form when you are young can have a big impact on you as an adult. Today, about one out of three American kids and teens are overweight or obese, nearly triple the rate in 1963. Among children today, obesity is causing a broad range of health problems that previously weren’t seen until adulthood.

What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of the job is seeing people who have benefited from the work of the American Heart Association. Whether someone learned CPR, recognized someone suffering a stroke and called 9-1-1, helped pass a bill in congress or just shared a life saving message with a friend, all of these steps are helping to save lives everyday!

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
You need to be a jack of all trades. Always be open to learn and ready to do all sorts of jobs. If you put passion into everything you do, you will be successful!

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
Hang out with family and friends, play with my 2 year old daughter and run.

Girls in Sports

Young Latinas are showcasing their athletic power, strength and competitive side in a wide range of sports. Girls are making a mark on the wrestling mat, golf course, soccer field, dance stage and many other sports arenas. Joining a sport has many benefits such as staying in shape, being healthy, learning how to work in teams, making friends, meeting new people and having fun. The choices can vary from dance, golf, soccer, fencing and even joining a wrestling team. Here are the stories of some Latinitas who are in different sports and love them!

Jessenia Marie Zambrano is a fifteen-year-old musician, artist and athlete from New York City. Jessenia is an active competitor of the sport fencing. She is coached by Buckie Leach, who has helped Olympic champions in the past, at the oldest Fencing School in America, The NY Fencers Club.

Fencing is a very unique sport. Not that many kids grow up and think that they want to be an Olympian fencer because the sport is not as common as swimming, ballet or baseball. I began fencing when I was 6 years old. Going on  10 years now fencing, and its still a big part of my life since the day I started. I love the intensity in fencing and how people have different styles of displaying their flow of the game. Some girls are smooth, elegant and light on their feet. Others can be aggressive, mean and passionate in their yell when they score a touch. It’s an  intense logical sport. It’s also emotional just like any other sport can be. All kinds of people fence. Some do so because they compete and others fence because its simply fun! It’s playing with swords. Who cannot see that as fun? Don’t worry that blades are zero percent sharp.” – Jessenia

Jocelyne Hernandez is a junior in high school and serves as team captain of her golf team. She also likes to play soccer. She encourages other girls to join sports as well because it teaches hard w0rk, goal-setting, team work and discipline.

“I am more of a soccer player, but I barely joined golf. Although I’ve played for a short time, I love hitting at the range. Golf is not an easy sport but I’ve learned to be self- reliant…I think its great that girls join sports… Girls who are in sports do better in school… Playing sports helps build character, you learn what teamwork is all about and you set your goals.” – Jocelyne

Jessie Nicole Barron is a high school junior and has been a wrestler for about a year now. Jessie also thinks that wrestling is a hard sport because it is physically and mentally demanding, but encourages others girls to step up to the challenge.

“I’ve been in wrestling since the summer of 2012… What I love about wrestling the most is that I can get rid of any stress and building muscle… The hardest thing about wrestling is everything! It is not like another sport, it’s not for everyone. In wrestling you need to be mentally, emotional, physically and spiritually strong…Wrestling is a challenging sport; however, if you are interested in trying it, you should! It’s always good to take a challenge and see how far you can go.”

Gaby Werthmann is a freshmen in high school and is in the dance team at her school. She enjoys a sport that lets her get fit while being creative and artistic at the same time. She thinks the most rewarding part of being in dance is the feeling you get when you learn how to do something that you have been working on for a while.

“It is good for girls to start dancing because it is a good way to stay in shape, and there’s always something new to learn and accomplish… Just the smile on your coaches face that tells you you did well, it makes me want to try harder and go to the next level because I know I can do it.”

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