Miss Mexican Fiesta: Using my platform to inspire Latinxs to pursue tech
- Posted on October 16, 2019
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
As a Latinx in tech, I am extremely passionate about increasing the representation of Latinxs in technology, and I want to capitalize on the momentum of Hispanic Heritage Month (US), which ran from September 15th to October 15th, to raise awareness and invite others to get involved in the fight for greater diversity and inclusion in the field. This goal was made easier earlier this month when I was chosen to be the next public face of the Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, as its Miss Mexican Fiesta Ambassador 2019-2020.
Mexican Fiesta and their foundation have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Their largest fundraiser, a three-day cultural celebration that happens each year in August, is something that I have attended with my family year after year. The foundation’s mission is to empower young Hispanic men and women by providing opportunities for advancement through education and scholarships. To date, it has provided Hispanic students more than $1.7 million in scholarships to make the cost of college more manageable. This especially resonates with me as one of the first people in my family to graduate from high school and the first to attend and graduate from college. As the ambassador, this community leadership role allows me to serve as a symbol to young girls that not only should and can they go to college, but afterward it is possible for them to get their dream jobs and support themselves at the same time. I am still in awe that I was chosen to serve as ambassador, after so many years of chasing after every opportunity and taking every helping hand that came my way, I am excited to be able to be that for another young woman. I decided to go after the role this year because working remotely with Avanade allowed me the flexibility to pursue my passions and even be in two places at once! After several rounds of applications and a panel interview with the foundation board, here I am. The best advice I received was from my predecessor, Valeria, who told me to approach the position with authenticity and remember that this is my year and make of it what I want.
As I catch my breath and begin strategizing, the possibilities seem endless. It is my personal goal that through the next year of public speaking, community outreach and near-to-peer mentoring (where the mentor is closer in age to the mentee and can be seen as a peer), I can inspire more young Latinx men and women to pursue careers in technology and STEM. It is my firm belief that if you cannot see it you cannot be it. I often imagine how different the tech industry might look if our Hispanic students were taught about and exposed to careers in data science, AI and programming. In my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin the only two careers I saw as the image of successful women were in healthcare and education. While those are perfect career choices for some, there is a whole world of opportunity in addition to them. I want to help shake us out of that mindset and be the Hispanic role model I needed when I was choosing a career path.
So far, I have hit the ground running. We are ending Hispanic Heritage month with a bilingual college and career fair for students and their families. After that I am looking into founding a Latinas in Tech chapter in Wisconsin and establishing a mentoring program that pairs Hispanic professionals with students in their senior year of high school to help demystify the college application process. All of this work is possible due to a truly supportive Avanade team that not only promotes diversity and inclusion as a slogan, but as a natural part of its culture.