Career Spotlight: Chief Communications Officer

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

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

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

Holidays in Latin America

As Latinos, we don’t just have one way to celebrate it. Latin America covers a big part of the globe and Latinas come from various countries, from Chile to Venezuela, Colombia to Guatemala and Mexico to Puerto Rico. Below you’’ll find some popular festivities from around the world.

Christmas Eve in Argentina
The day before Christmas, people participate in the lighting of paper balloons. These balloons are lit on the inside and released into the air. Firework displays are also a common activity. As in the USA, families place their gifts under the Christmas tree. They attend a midnight service at church and then they go sing Christmas carols from one house to another.

Christmas on Mexico
In Mexico, the Christmas season starts on December 16th. People adorn their houses with “Noche Buena” flowers (poinsettas), evergreen pine trees and colored lights. Sometimes families put on a nativity set (Pesebre) which can be as big as the family wants from just Mary, Joseph and Jesus to the entire city of Bethlehem. During December “Posadas” are celebrated where groups of families and friends gather together and eat, sing a break the “Piñata.” A posada commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem in search of shelter.

Consoada in Portugal
Consoada is a holiday dinner a day before Christmas where families honor their dead relatives and friends. Once the dinner is set up they add an extra seat and place setting that is left empty for the souls of the dead. Once the dinner is over they leave leftovers on the table to feed the hungry ghosts.

La Quema del Diablo, Guatemala
It translates as the Burning of the Devil and it is a prelude for Christmas. The purpose of this event is to ensure a devil-free holiday season. People sweep all the dirty corners of their houses, collect and gather the dirt and garbage in a huge pile outside, put a sculpture of the devil over the pile and light it on fire.

Christmas in Colombia
Holiday celebrations in Colombia begin in early December. Because most of the population is Catholic, the ceremonies start with the honoring of Virgin Mary. On December 7, families light candles and outline the streets with them until the whole city is illuminated. Later on December 16, Christmas trees are decorated with the start of the Novena which is a nine-day prayer ritual with a rosary in anticipation of Christmas day.

Although we are one big community, we have different customs and traditions in celebrating the holidays, but enjoying time with loved ones is a common focus.

DIY Last Minute Holiday Gifts

christmas-gift1The happiest time of the year is right around the corner, and you’re eager to see your family and friends. For those looking for last minute DIY gifts, these gifts are quick and easy to make.

4 in 1 Mix and Match

For this project you will need:

  • A Wooden box (without a top and big enough to fit 4 jars)
  • 4 Jars (they can be different sizes, according to the size of your box)
  • Spray paint (preferably in a metallic color; look for one that is appropriate for wood or metal)
  • 1 Brush
  • Newspaper (to put on the floor, so you don’t stain anything)
  • Color ribbons different sizes

Instructions:

  1. Wash the jars with soap and water.
  2. Then, leave the jars in hot water so it’s easier for you to take the labels off.
  3. Air-dry the jars;  while you’re waiting put the newspaper on the floor.
  4. Go to where you placed the newspaper. Then, paint the lids of the jars and let them dry.
  5. Take the labels off the jars.
  6. Fill the jars with candies, a scarf, small candles, nail polish, or the ingredients of a cookie recipe.
  7. Place everything in the jars and put small ribbons around each one.
  8. Gift wrap the jars or give as is!

Chalk Mug

For this project you will need:

  • An entirely white mug
  • Masking tape
  • Blackboard paint
  • Chalk
  • 1 Brush

Instructions:

  1. Start by sticking tape on the top and bottom borders of the mug. This will allow the paint to only stay in the middle of the cup.
  2. With the brush, paint the cup using the blackboard paint.
  3. Let the cup dry; once it is dried, take off the tape.
    * If there are any mistakes, correct them with nail polish remover and cotton.
  4. Add drawings to the cup with chalk.
  5. Fill the cup with candy!

Wooden Heart
For this project you will need:

  • Yarn of your favorite color.
  • Wooden board (Width 1.5 – 2 inches)
  • Slim little Nails
  • Hammer
  • 1 paper sheet

Instructions:

  1. On a paper sheet, draw a mold of what you want to form with the yarn.
    For example: Draw a heart and cut it so you can use it as a mold.
  2. Draw points to use as a guide  on the borders of the heart with a separation of .7 inches.
  3. Once the mold it’s all marked, place it on the wooden board and draw aligned points to the ones in the heart.
  4. Nail down the mark points with the hammer.
  5. Knot the worsted yarn around one nail and start to zig-zag it around all the nails, do it again from the other side and keep passing it through all the nails.
  6. Push down the yarn to fill all the heart (This way the nails won’t show as much).
  7. Once you’re finished, make another knot in a nail and cut off the rest.

Eternal Flowers

For this project you will need:

  • Big Styrofoam ball.
  • Synthetic flowers
  • Strong White glue or Silicone Adhesive.
  • 1 Ribbon
  • A flower vase with a small top

Instructions:

  1. Cut the stem of the flowers, leaving a little part of the stem.
  2. Plug the leftover of the stem in the Styrofoam ball with glue.
  3. Repeat the steps for the rest of the flowers until you cover the ball.
  4. Make sure you don’t leave any white space, except for the spot where you’re going to paste the ball to the vase.
  5. Paste the ball to the vase with abundant glue.
  6. Make a bow with the ribbon around the vase.

Pistachio Necklace

For this project you will need:

  • A bunch of pistachio shells
  • Paint (preferably matching colors like red, pink and purple)
  • 1 paperboard sheet
  • Silicone adhesive
  • A chain (it can be from an old necklace that you don’t use anymore)
  • Necklace connector rings
  • Small Pliers

Instructions:

  1. Start by cutting the sheet in a half- moon shape.
  2. Make two little holes in the corners of the sheet.
  3. Embed 2 connectors into the holes, 1 in each one.
  4. Insert the chain into those holes with help of the pliers.
  5. Place the pistachio shells onto the sheet, to see how many you will need.
  6. Set them apart and start painting as much as you need for each section of the necklace.
    *For ex: Paint 25 red, 20 pink and 15 purple.
  1. Once the shells are painted, let them dry.
  2. Glue the dry painted shells onto the paperboard sheet.
  3. Put one layer over the another, until you fill the sheet
  4. If you have leftover space, just cut it.

Poem: Room

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

Career Spotlight: Chief School Officer

Danna Diaz 977301_10201231510615653_278848363_o
Position & Title: Chief School Officer, Area One Superintendent
Employer: El Paso ISD
City & State: El Paso

What are some of your job responsibilities?
I serve elementary and middle schools that feed into four high schools. They are Bowie, Coronado, El Paso and Jefferson/Silva. I work with principals and central office to ensure students are learning in the classroom and that teachers have the tools they need to facilitate instruction.My experience working with students from diverse economic backgrounds and my bilingual skills have provided me with the tools and skills to engage all stakeholders in the educational process. Specifically, as a leader, I respond to the needs of stakeholders by establishing positive relations with the school and community and working with the members of the school district. In addition, I promote effective school communication and build coalitions to support the entire learning community.

What is your educational background? Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I am the first in my family to attend college. I received my Associates in General Studies from Central Texas College, Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Masters of Science, Mid-Management and Superintendent Certifications from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.My personal and educational experiences have helped me understand the resilience and persistence that is needed to succeed in today’s public schools. I know how important it is to receive an education and break the cycle of poverty, addiction and domestic violence. My passion is to make a difference in the lives of students and families.

How did you find your current job?
The position was posted by Proact, a national search firm. I applied for the position. I was screened by Proact personnel and interviewed three times by the Superintendent, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources and a member of the EPISD Board of Managers.

What did you do to prepare for this career?
I started my career as a bilingual teacher, assistant principal, principal and central office administrator. In addition to my professional experiences and education, I am a graduate of Proact Supes Academy, Center for Courage and Renewal, Academy for Leaders, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendent’s (ALAS) Superintendent Leadership Academy and the California Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (CALSA) Mentoring Program. My professional experiences, my education and the four learning programs prepared me for the position I have now.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I love working with the principals, teachers, parents and students of Area One. They are smart, intelligent and a group of caring individuals. My days are filed with conversations with them that impact the schools academically and/or operationally.

What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is when you find out a student is hurt in an accident or in the hospital. I know deep down inside they want to be in school. All I can do is pray!

What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
My advice would be to love what you are learning. If you want to be a teacher, start there. Keep going to school to prepare you for the next level. Don’t stop learning. Keep going!

What do you do for fun when you are not working?
I love spending time with my family, going to the movies, working out in the gym and participating in yoga practice.

 

Danna Diaz
Position & Title:
Chief School Officer, Area One Superintendent
Employer:
El Paso ISD
City & State
El Paso
What are some of your job responsibilities?
I serve elementary and middle schools that feed into four high schools. They are Bowie, Coronado, El Paso and Jefferson/Silva. I work with principals and central office to ensure students are learning in the classroom and that teachers have the tools they need to facilitate instruction.My experience working with students from diverse economic backgrounds and my bilingual skills have provided me with the tools and skills to engage all stakeholders in the educational process. Specifically, as a leader, I respond to the needs of stakeholders by establishing positive relations with the school and community and working with the members of the school district. In addition, I promote effective school communication and build coalitions to support the entire learning community.
What is your educational background? Describe your college experience and how it helped you prepare for your career.
I am the first in my family to attend college. I received my Associates in General Studies from Central Texas College, Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Masters of Science, Mid-Management and Superintendent Certifications from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration from The University of Texas at Austin.My personal and educational experiences have helped me understand the resilience and persistence that is needed to succeed in today’s public schools. I know how important it is to receive an education and break the cycle of poverty, addiction and domestic violence. My passion is to make a difference in the lives of students and families.
How did you find your current job?
The position was posted by Proact, a national search firm. I applied for the position. I was screened by Proact personnel and interviewed three times by the Superintendent, Associate Superintendent of Human Resources and a member of the EPISD Board of Managers.
What did you do to prepare for this career?
I started my career as a bilingual teacher, assistant principal, principal and central office administrator. In addition to my professional experiences and education, I am a graduate of Proact Supes Academy, Center for Courage and Renewal, Academy for Leaders, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendent’s (ALAS) Superintendent Leadership Academy and the California Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (CALSA) Mentoring Program. My professional experiences, my education and the four learning programs prepared me for the position I have now.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love working with the principals, teachers, parents and students of Area One. They are smart, intelligent and a group of caring individuals. My days are filed with conversations with them that impact the schools academically and/or operationally.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is when you find out a student is hurt in an accident or in the hospital. I know deep down inside they want to be in school. All I can do is pray!
What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
My advice would be to love what you are learning. If you want to be a teacher, start there. Keep going to school to prepare you for the next level. Don’t stop learning. Keep going!
What do you do for fun when you are not working?
I love spending time with my family, going to the movies, working out in the gym and participating in yoga practice.

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Media Representations of Latinas

Latinos make up approximately 17% of the U.S. population, according to the 2012 U.S. Census report, contributing to 50% of the U.S. population growth between the years 2000 and 2010.  On the big screen, however, Latino roles are rare and far between, and when they do appear, characters are often limited to narrow stereotypes. According to a recent report released entitled “The Latino Media Gap: A Report on the State of Latinos in U.S. Media,” representation of Latinos has even decreased over the decades, with Latinos being more represented in media in the 1950s, when they were only 2.8% of the population, than they are today.

Of the few Latinos that do come out in television and movies, they are portrayed with the same, stereotypical roles time and time again. A popular trend for Latina women in entertainment media is to be placed as the role of the sexy, seductive woman. The report, “Race/Ethnicity in 600 Popular Films: Examining On Screen Portrayals and Behind the Camera Diversity,” states that of over 600 popular U.S. films reviewed, 37.5% of Latina roles were shown to be partially or fully naked, the highest percentage of any other race/ethnicity. Latino men were also found to be the most likely to be wearing “tight, alluring, or revealing” clothing out of any other race/ethnicity of men portrayed in films.

1004479_308531572625386_1478746460_nConstantly being surrounded by these images can affect the way young Latina girls are viewed by those around her, and, in turn, how she views herself. Raised in a Latino neighborhood in New Jersey, Kimberly, 18, shares, “Growing up in a predominantly Latin American environment, I’ve both experienced and witnessed the detrimental effect that the over-sexualization of Latinas in the media has on young Latinas. It’s an insidious and subtle effect that reveals itself in the ways young Latinas are treated by their peers.” Being shown in media as sexual objects, and constantly described by terms like “sexy”, “sassy”, or “exotic”, creates a confining box for what young Latinas are expected to look or behave like, and holds them to inaccurate standards by those around her.

In the 2013 report, “Global Box Office Hits Record in 2012 as Hispanic Attendance Grows in U.S.,” Latinos were found to purchase 25% of all movie tickets in the U.S., showing just how highly the entertainment media intake in this nation is for Latinos. This much media intake means a high level of exposure to the stereotypical roles presented in films and television.  The result of this can be negative for young Latina girls and influence what they see the public perceives of them. Kimberly stresses, “The psychological backlash is often crippling, resulting in a lack of confidence in her intelligence or a sense that her body is more important than what she has to say. We agree that this is dangerous to all young women, but when these statistics show how targeted this over sexualization is, well then, it becomes clear that this specific problem needs to be addressed.”

When looking at the 2010 U.S. Census, only 44.3% of Latina women fill the occupation of a maid, yet 69% of Latinas in media play the role of maids, the report states. Even further, the representation of creative occupations, such as dancers, musicians, and writers, are filled by 9% of Latinos, according to the census, yet are only portrayed as so by less than 1% of Latinos in media. High school student Natalia, 17, shares, “As a strong and independent, young Hispanic woman… the stereotype of Latinas being portrayed as “sexy” or “house maids” in the media is a feeling of being demeaned because of my personal values and how I carry myself.” While there is nothing wrong with these titles, limiting Latinas to these few roles at such a grand scale ignores the truly diverse definition of what it means to be Latina, and the wide range of interests and capabilities of Latina women.  Gladys, 17, urges, “there are other aspects where Latinas should be recognized, including in the news business, or as great lawyers, doctors, etc.”

 

To even further the problem, Latinos make up a very small percent of those contributing to the behind the scenes production, including positions as writers, producers, and directors. In 2013, Latinos made up only 5.2% of writing positions, 2.1% of producers, and 2.7% of director positions, according to the Latino Media Gap report. “The vast majority of all fundamental media decisions are made by affluent, middle-aged, white men,” the Latino Media Gap report states. With such little representation behind the scenes, the stories of Latinas and their realities are not being accurately told.

 

The matter becomes even worse when extending our view to news media as well. According to this same report, as of 2013, less than 1% of the stories covered on popular new stations are Latino related, and of that 1%,  66% of those stories are focused on crime, terrorism, and illegal immigration, showing Latinos in a negative light. This limiting portrayal in entertainment and news media can have highly negative effects on Latinas, and how the public views our potential to expand beyond these stereotypes. The message should be sent out to the heads of media to look beyond the common stereotypes to the greater depth Latinas have as individuals. Latinas are intelligent, diverse, and capable women, and deserve to be represented as such!

 

Dealing with Traditional Parents

latina girls - latinitas

Written by Claudia Mendoza

Different Latinas share their own experiences about dealing with traditional parents, as well as their their own advice on how they coped with culture and tradition affecting their lives.

 

1. Leaving for College and Moving Out

“My mom was hesitant and really sad when I moved away for college,” shares Victoria Navarro, 19, when discussing her experience leaving her hometown for college. “She tells me that it is hard and she would prefer me to be back home. She would love to have me at home if she could. With me leaving so soon, she was fearful of me being by myself and being on my own, but she never told me I couldn’t do it,” she adds. Victoria was able to make the transition smoother by telling her mom why she wanted to attend a prestigious school out of town and how it would offer her new opportunities. “My mom recognized it was a good opportunity. She is really supportive and she knows I worked hard for it.”

Ariana Ortega explained how difficult it is to even bring up the topic of “moving out” with her mom.  Both her and her mother live alone, for the majority of the time, in a four-bedroom home.  This not only makes it hard on her mother but it makes it hard on her to even think about leaving her mother alone; the guilt and the privileges of living at home hold her back.  ”I always think about moving out, even though my mom gives me plenty of freedom.  She always tells me that moving out comes with a lot of responsibilities, and that living on my own I won’t come home to home-cooked meals,” Ariana stressed as she stared off into the distance.

2. Social Life

Alexsis Centeno, 18, explained how difficult it is to even go out with her friends and boyfriend.  Lexy (nickname), explained that her parents are divorced and living in two separate homes, with two sets of rules, highly  opinionated parents, and a “Cruella” for a step-mother are the main reasons to her undeveloped social life.  Lexy stressed, “I choose to ignore it.”

Lexy Centeno shared her story, “When I was 15 they started to let me date.  I really wouldn’t let them know anything about what goes on with the person I was dating, they just knew who the person was.”  Lexy explained that she is currently dating a soldier, Kenny, 19, and she stressed that her parents allow him to join the family and come inside the house, however they are not to be left alone at any moment.  Her parents do not want her to have distractions that will prevent her from finishing school, and having a career.

High school senior Lexy Centeno feels relieved to know that if she were to move out her parents would help her, as long as she continued to go to school.  In fact, she plans on moving out with her best friend as soon as she graduates from high school.

3. Double-Standards and Having the “Talk”

“I think there is a lot of shame in having the sex talk in the Latino community,” shares Victoria.  “It is something that you don’t even talk about. For me, it was that my family would not accept it at all. As a girl, you are told that a lot of your respect has to do with your purity. I would say that it should not be a one-sided discussion. It is important to have a discussion with your parents. If you think it is an option, you should be open with them and you may be surprised that it might become a real discussion. It is important to show that you have thought about it and what it means. If your parents aren’t open, you can find out the options on your own to inform yourself at a health center.”

“My brother gets a lot more freedom than I do and he’s younger.  If I was to do the same, act as he does, I would get grounded for 3 months!  He would only get grounded for a week, literally,” stressed Lexy in a rather bothered tone.

Advice from Lexy:

 

“I know that having strict, traditional parents is not easy and it may or may not get easier as you get older but all I can say is that the more you’re able to prove to your parents that you’re trying to be obedient and the more you gain their trust, the easier it will be to enjoy your teen years. I know that we want to go out and have fun but our parents are usually right and they are only hard on us because they want the best for us.  We may not understand certain things right now, but when we get older or become mothers, we too will want to protect our babies just as much as they are trying to protect us.  Sometimes parents mess up but it is up to us to decide what we let affect us on a daily basis, so don’t let little things distract your pretty little minds.  Instead, focus on finishing school and getting a part-time job.  The sooner you graduate, the faster you’ll be out of your parent’s house living your own,” shares Lexy.

Book Review: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsWritten by Andrea Barreto

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares is an amazing start to a series based on four very different young girls as they navigate young adulthood. The all too familiar feeling of being caught in a moment where everything is on the brink of changing sets the tone for what is meant to be a transformative summer. Aptly nicknamed the Septembers because of their birthdays, Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget have grown up spending all their time together. Yet this is the first summer they spend apart and for Carmen especially, this is becomes more difficult to understand.

Though they are the oldest sibling in their own families, each of the Septembers holds a different role in their circle: Tibby is the anti-conformist; Lena, the introverted painter; Bridget, the fearless athlete; and Carmen, the creative writer. Perhaps because Carmen is the youngest in her group of friends, she feels the most impacted by the different routes this summer is taking them. It was her desire that they take a pair of pants that magically fit each girl on their trips in hopes of keeping a piece of one another even in their time apart. Her summer journey takes her to South Carolina for some quality time with her mostly absent father. After her parents separated when she was a child, Carmen tried her hardest to be a daughter that her father would be proud of. The desire to be the best in the eyes of a parent is something I’m sure many young children can understand, and this summer was supposed to be Carmen’s biggest opportunity to show her father what he was missing.

Of course, things don’t go according to plan when Carmen realizes her father has become engaged to a woman with two seemingly perfect children of her own. Soon her father is breaking tennis dates with Carmen to deal with wedding details crises and cheering on his future son at soccer games. All of these appear to be normal family problems, which is why the books are so meaningful. These stories sound like my friends in high school, even my own family situation to an extent. It is profoundly beautiful in its simplicity. From this moment on we see Carmen at an uncomfortable bridesmaid dress fitting, made even more awkward because her full figure comes from her mother’s Puerto Rican heritage.  Rewind a little and we see at the beginning of the novel that even within her own group of friends, Carmen feels isolated; she fears the pants won’t fit over her thighs and she didn’t want to be “the big fatso”. Like many of us when faced with a difficult situation, Carmen literally runs away from the bridal store, expecting her father to notice her absence and being painfully disappointed when he fails to do so.

In her explanations to her mother and even Tibby, Carmen cannot understand why they would assume she’s mad at her father when she actually blames his new family. In her anger, she pushes Tibby away but ends up coming to the conclusion that she cannot admit any negative feelings towards her father. When I was a high school student reading this, this particular moment struck a nerve inside me. The difference was, however, that I could not stand up to my friends. I never had a problem speaking up for myself among my family, because I knew they would always be there for me regardless. The nervous heartbeats and trembling hands came whenever I had to assert myself to someone else, someone I didn’t know wouldn’t stay mad at me forever. This is exactly what Tibby reveals to Carmen when Carmen says she has no problem being mad at her friends – “Maybe, sometimes, it’s easier to be mad at the people you trust because you know they’ll always love you, no matter what.” This trust is something that, try as she might, Carmen was never able to develop with her father. The more she thought about it, the more Carmen realized there was so much she was holding back in an effort to have a happy relationship with her father. Being somewhat passive aggressive myself, I had to really reflect on what I personally was scared of when confronting other people.

Carmen took the time to consider that maybe there was something she herself was doing wrong, and in this way she managed to exude a quieter strength than what she expected. Sometimes there is this idea of how we expect courage to manifest, that it should be in your face and glaringly obvious as a feat of bravery. Occasionally, it is. But more often than not, it’s that quiet shift we feel within ourselves when something significant happens. Carmen felt that shift, and finally decided to act on it. She called her father and finally told him that she resented him for finding a family he preferred over her. Her father apologized but Carmen knew that the words would only matter if they both changed their behavior. So along with the help of her friends, she drove up for her father’s wedding and stood by his side in those traveling pants. While the pants themselves did not change Carmen as a person, it helped for all of the girls to believe that a force greater than they could imagine was a witness to their transformative journeys. This belief is told in many different ways and in all kinds of stories. The beauty of this narrative in particular comes from how deeply rooted it is in our daily reality while never forgetting the existence of that special magic they feel lives in a pair of blue jeans.

The Importance of an Internship

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Latinitas El Paso

As a college student looking forward to a career in competitive fields, we hear about the invaluable experience and opportunity of internships. In order to prepare for a future in your post-grad life, you need to know some things about the work pertaining to your field. Internships give you hands-on experience as well as unique insight when it comes to figuring out your career plans. For this reason, it is important to begin considering what you should look for in an internship as a high school student. Think of an internship as opening a small window into the world of your interests which will help in deciding what to pursue for the future.

As a Communications Major and Film Studies Minor, Bria Woods surrounds herself with methods of exploring media. Woods is a development and outreach intern with the non-commercial Jazz radio station, KRTU 91.7 FM, located in San Antonio, Texas and housed at Trinity University.  Her position at the KRTU 91.7 FM as the development and outreach intern has brought her countless opportunities for personal growth.

“I have the opportunity to work very closely with our members, since we are a non commercial radio station, we are listener supported. Parts of the development aspect involves processing new memberships, to collecting gifts, to sending premiums to new members. With the outreach aspect, [which is] probably my favorite, I get to help plan and set up Jazz events around the city. I have the opportunity to meet celebrities in Jazz locally and elsewhere,” said Woods.

“Working at KRTU has helped me realize the type of work environment I flourish in, which are smaller offices, with close-knit coworkers,” adds Woods.

She worked with a close-knit community in which, “it is common to help each other with tasks,” and she delves in tasks across the board from collaborating with others, to helping out in the recording studio. One of her favorite things about the internship is that she gets to help with things outside of her job description. The position has also helped her network, a great and valuable asset to have in one’s arsenal when seeking a job. Through her boss alone, she has met countless business people, musicians and artists. The worst, she explained was having her boss resign because it felt like losing a friend in the sense that “she was like a big sister,” to Bria. The best was her starting a new trend in the office. In her dorm at Trinity, she has a quote board in which she likes to place memorable quotes that she hears in her daily life. She proposed that one was made at work, and what began as her pinning quotes to the board alone, soon grew to an office habit in which everyone was involved.

 “Working at KRTU is probably one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s shown me what I’m capable of, which has boosted my confidence significantly, and I’ve met a lot of influential and important people that have changed my life for the better,” adds Woods.

Check your school’s website, career service center, or volunteer driven websites to see what internship is best suited for you. The opportunities are endless if you’re willing to look for them!

The Music You (Latinitas) and I (Child of the 80s) Love

Music2Every October tens of thousands gather in America’s new city sweetheart, Austin, TX for a music festival that lasts two-straight weekends: Austin City Limits Festival.  Emerging and established bands convene for an eclectic expression of new and old music and Latinitas was there to cover as much as possible – exploring new and old loves:

Nightbox – this Irish quartet was, to me, what would have happened if the 80s band New Order could have had a baby – really if any band of that time could have reproduced its DNA -Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode- even the Pet Shop-Boys.  What I loved the most about this performance was how Irish folk threads are married with danceable techno.  The bands lead is a new generation of dreamy and though this is a new, little heard band in the U.S., it’s roots to British new age made me feel like a “Latinita” again. (I’m a little over the age limit.)

Dawn and Hawkes – swinging the pendulum from club sound to Austin’s own folk duo that suceeded as finalists on “The Voice” and  touched, yes touched Adam Levine - the team took stage at the festival on my favorite stage, located centrally and smaller, the show is truly intimate and melodic and graceful songwriting gets its due.  Dawn is Miranda Dawn, half-Mexican American, half White – her voice is as beautiful as she.  She and Chris Hawkes, so young, so fresh – sing, though, like they have been writing folk songs for centuries.

Spanish Gold – A Latina publication has to check out anything that says  ”Spanish” of course. This collaboration of Band of Horses members and Austin and Laredo native son Adrian Quesada, founder of numerous other musical projects including Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and the newly formed Brown Sabbath, a commemorative, but Latin perspective on Ozzy’s Black Sabbath hits, Spanish Gold is its own brand of authentic new sound.  The entirety stays lyrically true to themes of rural meandering and Southwest origins, but as with many of the bands at ACL fest this year – they entreated audience members with something unexpected: their version of  the 90s hit “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe.  It was refreshingly refreshing.

Tuneyards – They are not Latinas, they are not even women of color though they sound like they are and I wouldn’t stop Henry Louis Gates from doing some DNA history on this band to find out if I’m wrong about their cultural origins.  They may have some Mahalia Jackson in that lineage somewhere.  Experimenting in percussion, throaty vocals and opera-like expressions of music intention, Tuneyards get you pumped up, active – seeking purpose.  Does anyone remember Sweet Honey from the Rock?  This band loved Sweet Honey from the Rock, but also loves Red Bull and other caffeinated products, I think.  Love the energy of the Tuneyards. It’s the type of the music that slips between performance art and revolution – easily.

Zoé – if you are 30ish and Mexican, you know Zoe. If you are a Latinita living in Southwest, United States or Los Angeles, well you too are familiar with this Spanglish/ Mexican rock band that has been around for a while, but just peeking it’s head into American mainstream with the minor onslaught of more pop en Español radio stations emerging in popularity.  Zoé epitomizes what is becoming “American” music. It is no longer rockabilly folks. It’s electric guitar with cumbia undertones.

I left reviews of Juanes and Eminem to our younger Latinitas dying to see these icons, but when Pearl Jam was poised as the headliner as a Sunday headliner, well I was immediately transported to sophomore year of college.   For some of you Latinitas that was last semester – for me – that was another decade.  I couldn’t have enjoyed Pearl Jam more.  Eddie Vedder, my middle age peer is as adamant about injustice as he ever was in the early 90s grunge era. His hair is neater, but he, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and the Pearl Jam band restored faith in history, rock that comes from the heart and from pain.  Izzy Azalea played earlier and her act, to me, looked like the boring cheerleading practice from my high school – while Pearl Jam reeled off “State of Love and Trust,” “Alive,” and other classics like they were plugged into a whole other musical universe.  I thank ACL fest for bringing worlds such as these together because music is music – manufactured or primal.  It’s all worth a chance.

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