Dominique Gonzalez is a valued Latinitas member. For the past three years, she has been returning from college at UT-Austin to her hometown and sharing her time and talents with girls in El Paso. Her leadership and vibrant personality make her a positive role model for other girls. This past summer, she organized a series of Saturday Creative Expression Classes on a weekly basis where she encouraged girls to express themselves as they explored photography, filmmaking and art. She is passionate about writing and is the editor for the Youth Editorial Advisory Board, as well as a top contributor to Latinitasmagazine.org. When asked to share advice to younger girls, she says: “Advice I can give to other girls is to never allow other people to tell you who you are. Every girl needs to search within and discover who they are, especially Latinas. We can’t give into stereotypes and let them define us. I believe learning to love yourself as you are and appreciating where you came from are the most rewarding accomplishments for a Latina.”
Volunteer Spotlight: Stephanie Moreno
Stephanie Moreno was the mastermind in leading and coordinating some of Latinitas girl empowerment programs this summer. Stephanie Moreno is an outstanding volunteer and former Club Leader. Stephanie aided with the Smart Chica Camp at local housing communities where she encouraged girls to reach their goals through career exploration and college preparation. She believes Club Latinitas and Latinitas workshops have made a tremendous impact on local youth, because it allows them to feel like a part of a group that really cares about them. “I loved being a Club Leader and watching the girls grow and mature. I especially liked that they told me and the other volunteers that we are their role models,” exclaims Stephanie proudly.
Throughout the last six years, Emily Martin-Loya, Latinitas board member, has lived on both sides of the border working with community organizations in El Paso and Juarez, MX. She is currently the Chief Marketing Officer of KCOS. She previously served as the Community Initiatives Coordinator at United Way of El Paso County. In that position she launched El Paso’s Young Leaders Society in 2008, which provides networking, volunteering and leadership opportunities for local young professionals. Emily is proud to serve on the board of Junior Leadership El Paso since 2008. She’s an active member of the Public Relations Professionals of the Southwest Association and a volunteer translator at her church, Vino Nuevo.
When asked why she wanted to get involved with Latinitas, she shared: “I love the mission of Latinitas and want to use my skills to help further it. I’ve been familiar with Latinitas for over 6 years and have tried to support it through events and sharing about it among my network already. Being on the board seems like a natural next step to formalizing my support. I’ve worked with youth for many years and worked in communications and marketing as well and I believe Latinitas truly leverages media and communications for student expression, building confidence, and personal growth.”
Bianca Castrejon, Social Work Junior at UTEP
I want to take part in empowering young girls and teens, especially at these ages when self-esteem and confidence can be hard to come by for any young girl. Participating in this internship with Latinitas will help me gain the experience and confidence in working with youths especially through creativity which I take great interest in.
Danielle Ortiz, Psychology Senior at UTEP
I can mentor those young women who are Latinas such as I am. Getting an opportunity to help young girls, especially those in my cultural community is an exciting thing for me.
Lilia Hernandez, Marketing & Finance Senior at UTEP
I want to develop and practice my skills in leadership, creativity and team work. I can gain work experience, help people and this organization helps me grow at the same time.
Mara Rivas Cano, Psychology Senior at UTEP
Latinitas allows me to be in contact with children to mentor them and apply my knowledge in Psychology to better their lives and enrich them as much as possible. For me, working with young people is not a job it is my calling. I think that been a part of children’s lives is a responsibility to young adults and older people in the sense that we can make an impact in their lives and change them in a good way.
Alexis Bobadilla, Communication Disorders Sophomore at EPCC
I want to participate with Latinitas to help Latina youth. My career goals are to someday be a speech pathologist in an elementary school. Latinitas will help me gain more experience with young children. I hope to gain knowledge that will help me in the near future when I begin my career with young students.
Daniela Lagunes, Psychology Senior at UTEP
I had a blast with these amazing young girls. Their smiles are contagious as well as their energy and enthusiasm. I hope we can share more time together.
Sonia Rangel, Graduate from UT-Austin
It is important for pre-teen and teenage Latinas here to have a voice. It’s more about culture, why we’re proud to be women, why we’re proud to be Latinas.
Denise Riojas joined Latinitas in the 7th grade at Martin Middle School and participated until she graduated 8th grade. Quiet and thoughtful, Denise took a little time coming out of her shell, but when she did, her take on Latinas and media representation opened up. “Latinitas made me feel proud of my culture, something I had been waiting for since I was a girl. I know Latinitas has made me a more confident person.” Denise really enjoyed the opportunity to express herself through media making websites, producing ‘zines and short “webisodes” about life in middle school. Now a junior at the University of Texas Austin studying nursing, Denise returns to help Latinitas in a leadership capacity making presentations on health and fitness during our summer camp series and by managing workshops at Latinitas’ annual Chica conferences focused on tech in 2012 and college attainment in 2013. Denise helped girls produce their public services announcements on using technology for good and topics related to going to college. Denise is certainly paying it forward in the cycle of mentorship.
Board Member Spotlight: Gracie Cain
Gracie Cain, Latinitas Board Member, has been the heart of our marketing and event planning committee. Gracie has helped coordinate several Latinitas fundraisers, such as the Butterfly Effect, Fashion Shows, and, most recently, Tiara Tuesday. Gracie joined Latinitas to help make an impact in addressing some of the challenges girls face: “In my opinion, important issues facing Latina youth today would be education, teen pregnancy and self-esteem. As a member of Latinitas, I love being able to impact these areas in a positive manner.” Gracie is a native El Pasoan with experience in business consulting, marketing, event planning, media and sales. She is also the founder and Creative Director at Emajj. Gracie studied communication at the University of Texas at El Paso. She began her career in the El Paso Channel 44 where she served as a producer and worked in the traffic and marketing department. She is highly active in her community with volunteer experience with groups such as Drawing Smiles, YMCA, Humane Society, MHMR, Homeless Shelter and Rock Faith Center.
Intern Spotlight: Editorial Interns
A Sophomore at Pomona College, Rachel is studying Politics and plans on attending law school after graduation. When she’s not busy studying you can find Rachel working at the Queer Resource Center doing fun, inclusive programming for LGBTQ students, mentoring first-years, and helping tutor students on their academic writing. A charismatic blogger for MyLatinitas.com, she is one of MyLatinitas.com recent top contributors. “I wanted to work with Latinitas to build my voice and my ability to tell the truth about my life and community so as to make space for other Latinas to develop their own voices,” says Rachel. Her advice for girls is to “Go easy on yourself. Growing up is about making mistake and messing up and we as a community should value failure just as much as we value success. Don’t be hard on yourself, you are powerful.”
Lizette, a Creative Writing major at New Mexico State University, aspires to one day form her own non-profit benefiting the El Paso community. A passion for literature and writing, Lizette started writing as a means of escape when she was in the first grade. “I have to admit that literature is more of a way of life to me than anything else,” says Lizette. When she’s not curled up reading a book, she enjoys writing, crafting, and gardening during her free time. A crafty chica, Lizette led DIY workshops during the Latinitas Fashion Camp this summer. Her advice for younger chicas is to “Read, love yourself, and keep and open mind.”
Coral, a French major at the University of Texas at El Paso, is also a Translation intern for Latinitas. An ambitious Chica, she enjoys music performance and plans on attending Graduate school after graduating. She is a singer/pianist in in Layali Al-Sham, an Arabic musical ensemble at the University of Texas at El Paso. “Aside from music performance, French is my passion. I love the literature, film, and language. I have been studying French since I was 12 and have continued since,” shares Coral. Her advice for younger girls: “Don’t internalize everything you see and hear. Some girls, boys, and even adults are going to do and say things to you that aren’t nice. Don’t believe them. Don’t let mean comments about you bring you down; they thrive on that. Surround yourself with people who are good for you and to you: this includes people who you can confide in and trust, good friends, family, people from a club/organization you’re in, it can be anyone.”
Volunteer Spotlight: Guest Speakers and Camp Leaders
As a volunteer-driven organization, volunteers guest speakers play an essential part of our group and help further our mission of empowering and inspiring young Latina girls to succeed. From presentations by local media personalities and artists to field trips to media stations, summer camp attendees benefited from numerous workshops dedicated to inspiring girls to start planning for their future. The workshops would not have been successful without the lectures, activities and thought-provoking speeches provided by the following guest speakers:
Josie Toquinto- Hairstylist; Ashley Garner- Miss Texas Latina; Lizette Martinez- Jewelry Workshop and Natural Make-Up; Marcela Salmon- Actress, Writer and Producer; Melissa Rivas- Dance Workshop, dancer from Viva! El Paso; Aide Romero- Actress from Viva! El Paso; Proper Printshop; Lakadore Store; Whitney Burbank- KVIA Reporter; Dorian Clouser- Artist; Adriana Valles- Reporter; Brenda Reyes & Victor Acosta- Despierta El Paso TV Show; Laura Werthmann- Yoga Class; Jessica Saucedo- Zumba Class; Karen Muniz- Crossfit Class; Samantha Minten- Inner Beauty Workshop; Heather Marrone- Music Video Choreography; Telemundo Studios; 104.3 Hit FM; KCOS TV Studios; Estela Casas, KVIA News Anchor; Tejano Tribune Newspaper; EPCC Radio Station; Dr. Carr- Media Professor; Bali Day Spa- Dolores Garcia; Yaisah Granillo- Video Production; Maribel Padilla- Film Workshop; Lily Gonzalez- YWCA- Youth Leadership Coordinator; Media Panel: Krystal Lee, Meteorologist; Sandra Ramirez, Reporter; Rosy Zugasti, Reporter; Ashlie Rodriguez, Reporter; Denise Olivas, Reporter, Monica Uribe Ortiz NPR Reporter, Liza Garibay UTEP Writer, Alex Hinojosa, El Paso Times Reporter.
Un gran abrazo para todos, thank you!
Peer Leader Spotlight: Gladys and Destanee
Two outstanding members of Latinitas are Gladys Acosta and Destanee Saucedo. As Peer Leaders for our Summer Camps, these teens have big dreams and a bright future ahead of them. Both participated in the Latinitas Teen Media Academy and used their training to help younger girls as volunteer mentors in our summer camps.
Gladys, a student at Valle Verde Early College, is an enthusiastic and ambitious Communications major (emphasis on broadcast journalism and political communications). She is passionate about media and her career goals are to graduate with a masters degree in Communications and start working with a local TV station. She aspires to one day work at a national TV station, such as CNN or ABC.
Destanee Saucedo, a Senior at Hanks high school, is passionate about women’s rights, empowering local youth and making a difference in her community. A member of Youth for Christ, theatre, and College Ready Club, she has big dreams for her future and plans on attending Dallas Baptist University to major in Special Education. When she is not busy with school, she loves painting and arts and crafts.
Intern Spotlight: Summer Interns
Special thanks to all our talented summer interns for their dedication to helping provide excellent girl empowerment opportunities for Latinitas this summer.
- Maribel Padilla, a Latinitas Summer Camp Leader, is a volunteer superstar. She obtained her degree in Digital Film Making from New Mexico State University. “I feel like film is a powerful form of media and I feel like I have a lot of stories to tell,” she shares. Her advice for younger Latinas is to “Get involved in as many extra-curricular activities. Colleges like students who like to get involved. ”
- Bianca Castrejon, a Camp Leader and Outreach Intern, is pursing a degree in Social Work at the University of Texas at El Paso. “I chose Social Work as my major because I want to help those going through hard times in their lives and make it easier to get through,” she shares. Latinitas is glad to have her on board as a UTEP work study student this Fall! Her words of wisdom to young girls is to not let intimidation scare or shy them away from their goals.
- A Bookkeeping guru and a member of Beta Psi, Arely Giner Gonzalez contributed her skills to managing and generating financial documents. Arely, an Accounting student at the University of Texas at El Paso, believes”obtaining an internship is crucial toward succeeding in college. Her advice to young girls is to attend college, because “college is best decision that you can take.”
- A keen-eye for photography, Istiban Morales was the principal photographer during the summer. Istiban, a Media Advertising student at the University of Texas at El Paso, says ” The desire to grow as a professionally, to be a respected person, and to have knowledge in things that will help in life” are what fuels his passion to continue his education. His advice to today’s youth is to keep working on their studies and to remember that effort that is done will be well paid in the end.
- Maria M. Cortes, a Computer Science student at the University of Texas at El Paso, shared her talents as a Graphic Design Intern this summer. When asked why she loves her major, she shares: “I believe what we do is magical, of course everyone can think their major is unique, but mine is much more unique, because we learn and build what is inside of almost everything we touch, that is just great.” “Never give up. If someone tells you that you can’t do it, show them you can. Just never lose hope,” advises Maria.