UCLA Faculty Who Were First in Their Families to Go to College Help Others Like Them Overcome Fear, Self-Doubt

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UCLA Student and Grad

Gerardo Ramirez remembers his first day of college as one filled with conflicting emotions. He was eager and excited to be starting his freshman year at California State University, Northridge, but at the same time, he was apprehensive and anxious, and feeling a lot of pressure.

“The entire week before, I had nightmares that I couldn’t find any of my classrooms,” recalls Ramirez, who was not only navigating the physical campus but also entering the strange, new world of higher education as the first in his family to go to high school and college.

“I felt worried that I wouldn’t be able to do something as basic as find a class,” he says, “and that uncertainty in my abilities was a common concern for me throughout my undergrad years.”

Ramirez is now an assistant professor in UCLA’s Department of Psychology and one of approximately 100 UCLA faculty members, all former first-generation college students, who are participating in a new effort to offer support and encouragement to prospective and current first-generation UCLA students. More than 30 percent of UCLA undergraduates fall into that category.

Helping first-generation students feel connected

The UCLA First Generation Faculty Campaign is part of a broader effort to raise the visibility of first-generation faculty members across the University of California. At UCLA, the campaign is operating in collaboration with the First to Go program, which focuses on the retention and success of UCLA students.

“This campaign is intended to demystify the faculty rank for students and lets them know that behind the podium are many people whose roots are very similar to their own, and that a similar prestigious end is possible for them in whatever career path they are pursuing,” says Patricia Turner, senior dean of the UCLA College who was a first-generation college student who grew up in Sag Harbor, New York, where her mother cleaned houses and her father ran a farm in nearby Bridgehampton.

Originally from Virginia, neither of her parents completed high school.

First-generation students commonly face unique challenges when coming to college, says Turner, including pressure to improve their family’s economic situation, a narrow understanding of academic and professional opportunities, and lack of mentors.

Turner, who attended State University of New York, Oneonta, and UC Berkeley, says that highly competitive schools like UCLA can be especially intimidating for first-gen students who sometimes believe that professors at UCLA, one of the world’s leading universities, couldn’t possibly relate to them on a personal level.

“Academic success is linked to students believing that they belong to the institution,” says Turner, noting that more than 90 percent of first-generation students at UCLA graduate. “Students need to feel connected, and the response we have received to this program reinforces my belief that our faculty members are deeply committed to the undergraduate experience at UCLA.”

It’s especially important for first-generation students to complete their studies and inspire other prospective first-generation students because of what a college degree can mean economically to their future, their families, communities and society. According to a study by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce published in 2014, those who have bachelor’s degrees earn on average $1 million more than high school graduates over the course of a lifetime. In addition, Ph.D. holders earn $1 million more than bachelor’s degree holders.

Inspiring others to succeed

Being in college won Ramirez respect among his siblings and other family members, many of whom looked to him as an example of what is possible with hard work and dedication to academics. He also was able to offer them one-on-one counseling — something many lower-income high school students often don’t receive — and guide them on college admission requirements and financial aid and application deadlines, among other details.

As a college student, Ramirez avoided mentioning his first-generation status, but as a UCLA professor, he proudly shares his personal story with his students at the beginning of each quarter.

It’s this kind of support and perspective that inspired fourth-year cognitive science major and first-generation college student Denise Peralta to apply for graduate school after she completes her bachelor’s degree in June. “He (Ramirez) was the only professor to encourage me to go straight into a Ph.D. program. I wasn’t confident that I was ready, but, after hearing his story, I understood why he was pushing me, and I thought I could do it.”

Ramirez also opened her eyes to the importance of being involved in undergraduate research and helped her explore opportunities both at UCLA and other institutions. Peralta currently works in Ramirez’s research lab and hopes to one day teach math at a middle school similar to the one she attended in East Los Angeles. Her career aspirations are driven by a desire to foster a love of math and learning, and to serve as a positive role model.

“I want my students to see someone who looks like them, who came from the same neighborhood or one like theirs — and show them that success and a bright future are within their reach,” Peralta says. “I want them to say, ‘If she can do it, I can do it.’ And first-gen college students also need this kind of encouragement. This campaign gives us that.”

Advice from those who walked a similar path

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Paul Kroskrity became a first-generation college student after growing up in Long Island, New York, and later in Connecticut. He joined UCLA’s Department of Anthropology as a professor 40 years ago and served as chair of the American Indian Studies Program for 26 years. He believes that UCLA and the UC campuses in general are the perfect place for these efforts to flourish.

“The reason why this [First to Go] program is so good is that we have a really high quality institution, but we also admit students that are more diverse than those at the average university,” says Kroskrity, adding that UC campuses are an engine for social mobility. At other universities, he says, it’s not unusual for students who are the third or fourth generation in their families to attend college.

Kroskrity, who graduated from Columbia University and Indiana University, encourages first-generation students to get engaged, stay involved and not allow themselves to be constrained by self-imposed barriers or self-doubt.

“If you start limiting yourself by your own sense of what you are not capable of, or what you don’t know about, or how awkward you feel because it’s something new, you just don’t get the full experience,” says Kroskrity, whose mother didn’t complete high school and whose father was limited in his career because he lacked a college education.

“Take academic risks, talk to people that you might not have considered speaking to before, including your professors,” the UCLA anthropologist advises. “Reach out to people and get the full value of this experience. UCLA exists for them. You are not going to get these four years back, so use them in the best ways possible.”

Source: newsroom.ucla.edu

 

 

 

Wilson Cruz: Advocating for LGBTQ+ Youth

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Wilson Cruz and fans

It hasn’t been an easy road to success for actor, activist, or self-proclaimed “actorvist” Wilson Cruz. It was scary to play Ricky Vazquez on My So-Called Life in 1994, one of the first LGBTQ+ characters on television. But Cruz, as he says, “had the benefit of the ignorance of youth” that allowed him to go for the roles where he could represent both of the communities he comes from.

“Every actor has something that they have to work against, and this just happens to be mine,” he said. A true trailblazer, he knew that what he was doing will eventually make it easier for someone else to pursue this career as well.

“There weren’t many openly gay actors of color that I could really look to at that time, and I loved the idea of being able to be that for someone else.” Knowing this helped him enter auditions with the thought that he had an army of people—who he hadn’t even met—rooting for him.

Cruz hasn’t settled with being a trailblazer only television, however. In 2012, he joined GLAAD, an organization dedicated to supporting representation and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community in media. The work he did with GLAAD made him more practical and less idealistic, though no less passionate about activism. The day-to-day work the organization did was hard and took time but, in the end, a difference was being made. Though he no longer formally works for GLAAD, Cruz still has a role in many of their projects and loves to help when he is needed.

Currently, his activism goals include supporting all minorities and advocating for LGBTQ+ youth. Panel speaking at GLAADCruz feels that there needs to be more unified support across identities. The best way to protect the progress that has been made and continue to move forward is for minorities to stand in solidarity and support each other. He is also passionate about supporting queer youth and making sure they are safe and protected at school. He is on the board of directors for GLSEN, an organization dedicated to making sure K–12 students who are members of the LGBTQ+ community are safe and treated with respect.

Photo: BEVERLY HILLS, CA –  (L-R) GLAAD Director of Entertainment Research and Analysis, Megan Townsend, actors Stephanie Beatriz of ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ and Wilson Cruz of ’13 Reasons Why’ and ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ creator/executive producer of ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Peter Nowalk, Lena Waithe of ‘Masters of None,’ and executive producer of ”Wynonna Earp” Emily Andras . (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Cruz advises youth considering coming out to build a network of support first, to ensure that no young person faces the prospect of being homeless or forced to drop out of school. Before coming out to the people around you, it is important to have an adult you can trust for support because Cruz’s first concern is for the safety and mental health of the community. And, for those who are not aware, he also advises reaching out to the local LGBTQ+ support systems in your area. Many major cities have an LGBTQ+ community center with a youth program and can be found on LGBTCenters.org.

Cruz is also an advocate for Puerto Rico’s relief, particularly as we head into another hurricane season. For his last birthday, he utilized Facebook’s feature for donations and was able to raise $10,000 for the Hispanic Federation in support of Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief. He encourages everyone to consider supporting the efforts and cause.

As an actor, Cruz has made great strides, bringing the first openly gay character to life in the Star Trek series. Most of the time, roles are not written specifically for an LGBTQ+ Latino male, but Cruz considers it his job to convince the casting directors otherwise. He has to give them the option of choosing him and has to show them he is just as powerful, funny, and moving as the person they have in mind, and he enjoys that challenge. Cruz feels that has become the job of creative people of color “to change people’s idea of what’s powerful and what’s funny and what’s beautiful.” It’s not an easy task, but through his career, he has managed to do just that.

Photo: Premiere Of CBS’s “Star Trek: Discovery” – Red Carpet Angeles, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)

Moving forward, Cruz has many projects through which he will continue to represent the Latino and LGBTQ+ communities. The second season of 13 Reasons Why is now streaming on Netflix, season two of Star Trek: Discovery production is underway, and he is the co-executive producer of the upcoming documentary Out of the Box, which will explore the history of LGBTQ+ in television and how they have been represented, as well as how it has evolved and impacted culture and politics. With every project, role, and movement, Cruz continues to empower minorities and pave the way for more representation and equality.

ADP Foundation Awards Grant For Mujeres De Hace Program

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The ADP Foundation Provides Grant to HACE’s Latina Women’s Leadership Program

The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement will bestow multiple scholarships with grant to expand the women’s leadership program in new key cities.

Latina professionals will have greater access to the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement’s (HACE) women’s leadership program, thanks to a grant received from the ADP® Foundation. Many women who would otherwise be unable to afford the full tuition for the program will be able to benefit from full or partial scholarships in the fall. “The scholarships awarded will be instrumental in achieving a bigger reach in newer markets we have expanded to, such as Atlanta and San Francisco,” says Laurin Bello, HACE Program Manager, “the support ADP has given us makes them an invaluable partner for HACE as they continue to help us reach Latina professionals.”

The Mujeres de HACE program, a leadership program designed to help high-potential Latina professionals grow and develop in their careers, has successfully graduated over 800 women. The grant will allow HACE to serve 15-30 additional Latina professionals across the U.S., including Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Minneapolis, MN; McLean, VA; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA and Miami, FL.

“HACE would like to thank the ADP Foundation for their generous support,” said Patricia Mota, HACE President and CEO. “On average, Latinas are reported to earn 55 cents to the dollar compared to their Caucasian male counterparts, that is at least 20 cents below Caucasian women. Furthermore, Latina professionals are constantly balancing traditional cultural norms with workplace norms, which simultaneously creates unique opportunities and barriers to advancement.  With this grant, HACE will be able to impact the lives of more Latina professionals across the country, helping to close the wage and opportunity gaps that ultimately hurt our communities and the overall economy.”

Mujeres de HACE has proven to help close the wage and opportunity gaps, with over 80% of women reporting a raise, promotion or both within a year of participating in the program. After completing the program, many women join leadership boards, fundraise for program scholarships to support other women and even start their own businesses.

Continue onto HACE Online to read the complete article.

How This Mompreneur Turned A Tight Budget And Doubt Into A Successful Cotton Candy Business

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When we no longer fear failure, we often open ourselves up to our best ideas. 

For Lucia Rios, the decision to become an entrepreneur was one of survival. Although she had never considered business ownership before, she needed something to do—a creative outlet, a place to funnel her attention as a mother with post-partum depression. So one day, she assessed her small budget like she would any family purchase and started to scheme up potential products. She ultimately decided on cotton candy. It required little overhead, had room for creativity and seemed, at the very least, an exciting change.

Now, a few years later, that side hustle has turned into Rios’ full-time gig, complete with facilities, staff and a long client list. Christened TWISTED, Rios’ business caters some of California’s largest events and partners with brands like USA Network. In this interview, Rios explores the growth of TWISTED, why she’s on a mission to increase Latina visibility in business ownership and the influences of motherhood on her new identity as an entrepreneur.

Jane Claire Hervey: How would you describe who you are and what do you do?

Lucia Rios: I am Lucia Rios-Hernandez, the sweet creator of TWISTED, a gourmet cotton candy company that caters events with live, on-the-spot-twisting, as well as pre-packaged, ready-to-eat treats. I am a mom of two kiddos, a wife, a daughter, a mom-prenuer, a feminist, a person of color and, somedays, Mary Poppins.

Hervey: TWISTED has significantly grown since its launch date. What have been some of your most exciting projects and/or clients over the last few years?

Rios: As corny as it sounds, each and every project and client has been amazing, and I don’t take any order or job for granted. I started this as a way to heal from my post-partum depression, as a way to be a better mother to my daughter and son, so each person that supports this business supports me through this journey. However, I will always—always—cheer on the network called WE ALL GROW LATINA. It was one of my first big events and it changed my life in more ways than one. I was able to get an understanding of what networking meant. I met many amazing women and mothers who have since become my  friends. I was able to get my first corporate client and many others since.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

10 Latinas Making Their Mark in the STEM World

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As the job market rapidly changes, STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – skills have become increasingly valuable. These careers are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying, yet Latinas only account for 3 percent of the industry.

Believing that lucrative STEM fields can pull low-income communities of color out of poverty and instill young girls and women with financial independence, groups across the nation have emerged to pique the interest, educate and mentor Latinas in STEM. In Miami, CODeLLA offers Latinas between the ages of 8 and 12 an eight-week tech entrepreneurship and coding immersion program. In Chicago, Latina Girls Code hosts workshops and hackathons that teach brown girls and teens technology languages and entrepreneurial skills. In Los Angeles, DIY Girls provides underserved female youth, 97 percent of them Latina, from fourth to eighth grade with after-school classes and summer programs where they build prototypes of products that can improve a problem in their community. Even Eva Longoria, whose master’s thesis from Cal State Northridge focused on Latinas in STEM careers, started TECHNOLOchicas, a nationwide campaign to increase visibility of brown women in these fields and educate Latino families of the opportunities STEM can provide their girls.

While STEM outreach programs are doing great and necessary work, the reality for women of color in tech or engineering isn’t as alluring as it’s made out to be. Women make up almost half of all STEM graduates, though just 3.5 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM fields in 2010 went to Latinas, yet they account for less than a quarter of all graduates in the 20 highest-paying STEM jobs. In contrast, they make up the majority, two-thirds, of the 20 lowest-paying gigs. For those who manage to get fat paychecks, many face almost everyday instances of discrimination and microaggressions, from sexual harassment to painful double standards. The problem is twofold for women of color, who face gender and racial/ethnic biases. In fact, a study by UC Hastings College of Law published in 2015 found that 46.9 percent of Latina scientists reported that they had been mistaken for administrative or custodial staff.

Despite all the odds, there are several Latinas in STEM breaking glass ceilings, solving major scientific problems, creating innovative products that save lives, and creating programs for young Latinas that ensure the presence of women of color in science, technology, engineering and math isn’t as modest in the next generation. Here are 10 Latina engineers, physicists, techies, and STEM activists kicking ass in fields they’re widely underrepresented in.

1. Sabrina González Pasterski

The world’s “next Albert Einstein” is a cubana from Chicago – at least that’s how Harvard University describes Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. At just 24 years old, the physicist has a résumé that even veterans of her field can’t match. Gonzalez Pasterski, who’s a doctoral student at the ivy league studying high energy physics, started showing signs that she’d break barriers in 2003, back when the then-10-year-old started taking flying lessons. Three years later, she started to build her first kit aircraft. By 2008, it was considered airworthy.

These days, Gonzalez Pasterski, who studies black holes and spacetime, particularly trying to explain gravity within the context of quantum mechanics, has been cited by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Andrew Strominger, been offered jobs by NASA and Blue Origin, an aerospace research and development company Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos also started. She’s also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to support her work.

2. Laura I. Gomez

Mexicana Laura I. Gomez is one of the leading ladies in tech. At 17, when the formerly undocumented immigrant first obtained a work permit, she took an internship with Hewlett-Packard. Seeing no one like her in the workplace, she instantly wanted out. However, she decided to stay in the field after her mother, who saw a lucrative career for Gomez in tech, encouraged her to stay. Gomez would go on to work as one of the only Latinas at Google and YouTube, and then she became a founding member of Twitter’s international team, where she led Twitter en Español.

Being underrepresented in the tech world and experiencing discrimination, Gomez decided to do something about it, founding (and acting as CEO of) Atipica in 2015. It’s a recruiting software start-up that uses artificial and human intelligence to help companies make bias-free decisions when hiring employees.

3. Nicole Hernandez Hammer

Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a sea-level researcher and environmental justice activist who educates and mobilizes the Latino community to understand and address the ways in which climate change negatively impacts them. The Guatemalan-Cuban advocate speaks from personal experience as well as academic knowledge. When Hernandez Hammer was four years old, she and her family moved from Guatemala to South Florida. There, she learned firsthand about the effect of rising sea levels.

During Hurricane Andrew, when she was 15 years old, her house – much like the homes of other Latino families near coastal shore lines – was destroyed. She felt “obligated” to learn more about the issue, and went on to study biology and the natural sciences. Hernandez Hammer was the assistant director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University, authoring several papers on sea level rise projections, before moving into advocacy. She served as the Florida field manager for Moms Clean Air Force and is now a climate science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In 2015, she was former first lady Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union Address.

Continue onto Remezcla to read the complete article.

Walmart Supports Future Leaders Through $2 Million in Funding to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

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Latinos at office meeting

BENTONVILLE, Ark. – July 24, 2018 – Today, Walmart announced $2 million in grants to organizations working to expand internship opportunities for diverse youth populations, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).

The grants build on previous Walmart funding to the two nonprofits, bringing the company’s total investment to more than $6 million over the last several years. The funding will help provide career pathways on Capitol Hill for students and young professionals through education and hands-on experience in the nation’s capital.

At Walmart, our commitment to diversity and inclusion spreads beyond our stores and out into the communities where our associates and customers live. Through relationships with organizations like CHCI and CBCF that reflect the diversity of American society, we can open the door to help more young people build a career in public service and expand the pipeline of talent on Capitol Hill and beyond by providing our future leaders with the tools needed for success.

– Julie Gehrki, vice president of programs at Walmart

At a time when people of color currently make up less than 20 percent of U.S. lawmakers (Pew Research Center), these grants come at a critical moment. Although diverse populations represent approximately 36 percent of the population, only 7.1 percent are senior staffers in the Senate, according to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The CBCF will receive a three-year, $1 million grant to help prepare college students and young professionals for careers in public policy and advocacy. The funding will provide exposure to the development and implementation of national policies – from Capitol Hill to federal field offices – as well as support intern housing, monthly stipends, professional development and leadership training.

A three-year, $1 million grant to the CHCI will provide Latino undergraduates with paid summer or spring Congressional internships. Through Walmart’s support, students will gain valuable work experience, benefit from a strong leadership development curriculum, participate in a community service project and interact with professionals and industry leaders in Washington, D.C.

“The CBCF is committed to increasing diversity on Capitol Hill and in the public sector by creating a new generation of informed and engaged citizens and leaders,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Chair, CBCF Board of Directors. “Internships are a critical component toward building a career in public policy. Through Walmart’s continued support and dedicated partnership, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation has successfully increased the number of scholars who have access to the intern-to-staffer pipeline.”

“Walmart has led the way as the Founding Partner for CHCI’s Congressional Internship Program by significantly investing in our nation’s future leaders,” said Rep. Joaquín Castro, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. “We value Walmart’s support of CHCI’s mission to address underrepresentation of Latinos on Capitol Hill by providing transformative experiences and the critical skills needed to embark on careers in public service.”

Walmart has a long history supporting diversity and inclusion to create equal access to opportunity. Recently, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation granted nearly $4 million to organizations helping to promote access, equity and inclusion among diverse populations. The funding was part of the Foundation’s Diversity & Inclusion competitive grant competition, which provides support to initiatives with measurable impact on and demonstrated reach into diverse communities including African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, women and girls, the LGBTQ community and individuals with disabilities.

For more information on Walmart’s commitment to diversity and education, please visit corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/opportunity/diversity-and-inclusion.

About Walmart

Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) helps people around the world save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, nearly 270 million customers and members visit our more than 11,700 stores under 65 banners in 28 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2018 revenue of $500.3 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/walmart  and on Twitter at twitter.com/walmart.

The University Of Illinois Launches Program To Create More Black And Latino Male Teachers

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Jawaun Williams always felt a void growing up on the South Side, going to schools with a predominantly black student population.

When he graduated from high school, he was one of the top 15 students in his class and in the honors society.

Still, something was missing.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to be taught by someone who looked like me. I never had any male black teachers,” Williams pointed out.

“I’ve only had one black teacher in my life. It was something I was used to, but as I’ve grown older, I realized that it is pretty weird that black men weren’t in my field.”

Though he wasn’t taught by many black men, Williams saw how influential educators could be in a young person’s life.

“Teachers taught me how to navigate, not only high school, but life. That was one of the reasons why I wanted to become a teacher.” the 19-year-old said.

Williams, a college sophomore, is one of six participants at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s “Call Me MISTER” program that aims to introduce more black and Latino male teachers into the Chicago Public School system.

This is the first year UIC is participating in the program, which stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models.”

“Call Me MISTER” started at Clemson University in 2000 and is operating in 31 schools. UIC is the first large urban school participating.

At CPS, 84 percent of the student body population are black or Latino, but 42.7 percent of the system’s teachers are black or Latino.

“As soon as I graduate I want to go back to the South Side of Chicago, and teach in the same neighborhood I came out of,” Williams said.

Williams and others in the “Call Me MISTER” program were recruited at schools with a majority black or Latino student population. They will receive full tuition and room and board.

Continue onto The Chicago Sun-Times to read the complete article.

We Are Not Alone

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By Kate Rahbari

Even if my high school self could teleport to the future to witness my accomplishments with my own eyes, I would still deny what I see today. I am one of only a handful of Native Americans in medical school, and I am in my third year of a dual MD-PhD program. For many, these are marks of hard work and success. But for me, they are marks of luck and circumstance.

My insecurities have followed me for as long as I can remember, but they became more apparent throughout college. During this time, someone suggested that I received scholarships because I was a member of a minority. Others told me that any medical school would accept me because I am a Native American and a woman.

These comments left me feeling undeserving of the success that I had worked so hard to achieve. If I had been born a white male, would I have gotten this far? Maybe minority outreach was the only reason for my success. My insecurities grew, and I felt like a fraud.

My thoughts became malignant:
You are not smart enough.
You don’t belong.
You are here because of luck.
Someone will find out about you.

In retrospect, it is clear to see how people’s comments changed my perception of my worth and my achievements, but for the longest time I felt like a fraud without recognizing or understanding why. I felt alone in these feelings until my junior year of college. During a talk at the SACNAS National Conference I felt out of place and not smart enough to be among all the brilliant, accomplished professionals who surrounded me.

Unexpectedly, the speaker described that she still feels exactly how I was feeling in that moment. She and several others explained how frequently throughout their careers they have felt like frauds waiting to get caught. She explained that this phenomenon, called imposter syndrome, is common among high achieving individuals and especially women and people of color.

Kate and her colleagues in the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Scientist Training Program during the White Coat Ceremony, August 2015.

I was shocked. How could experts with doctoral degrees still feel like imposters? Learning that people I admire and view as successful also experience doubts encouraged me. I finally felt optimistic that I could succeed, despite my insecurities. However, it was disheartening to realize that if they still have these doubts, then I would probably battle with them for the rest of my career, too.

Years later, I continue to work on rejecting imposter thoughts nearly every hour of every day. They still happen frequently, especially when I succeed or when others compliment me. The only time I do not feel like an imposter is when I tell myself that I am not one. Keeping a “Win List” as a physical record of my proudest accomplishments helps as well. Sometimes I even read old emails from mentors who have given me encouragement along the way.

Over time, I have become alert and responsive to my imposter feelings. Whenever doubts arise, I give myself a pep talk in my head:

You are smart.
You work hard.
You are more than a score on an exam.
You are qualified.
You deserve to be here.

Now, several years after sitting in that audience and feeling like a fraud, I can proudly say that I belonged there. I graduated college with honors, I presented my research at several national conferences, I worked at the National Institutes of Health, and I was included as an author on three publications, all despite my imposter syndrome. I was not immune to setbacks along the way, but I got through them all because someone was brave enough to share their story at a conference. I am thankful that the courage and vulnerability of others let me know that I am not alone.

If I could teleport to the past and, without any imposter thoughts, see what I accomplished, I would see someone who is intelligent no matter what her exam scores show. I would see someone who is humble and hardworking. I would see someone who finds learning exciting and is not afraid to ask questions, someone who is more capable of success than she knows but will come to see her worth more and more with time. She is not defined by her doubts and insecurities nor is she alone in them. She is not an imposter. She is brave.

About the Author
Kate Rahbari is a Haliwa Saponi tribal member. Ms. Rahbari grew up in West Chester, PA, and studied biology at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is currently in her second year of medical school in an 8-year Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She will be pursuing a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology.

Source: Originally published in STEM + Culture Chronicle, a digital magazine produced by Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Are You Ready to Apply for an Executive MBA?

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Latina Graduate

By Karen Turtle

A professional career tends to develop in quite distinct stages. Early careers are often defined by uncertainty—this is a period where the learning curve can be at its steepest, and is also, for those go-getters among us, a time where progression up the ladder is frequently at its fastest.

Then comes the plateau. Thirtieth-birthday celebrations pass, the plaque on the door says ‘manager,’ but keys to the corner office still seem to be very much out of reach. There is, or so it can appear, a painfully perceptible gap (what might even feel like a chasm) to be bridged in order to get from the confines of middle management to the c-suite.

The GMAC 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey found that the three main reasons senior professionals choose to do an executive MBA (EMBA) are to further their personal development, to extend their existing knowledge and skills, and to increase their salary. An executive MBA from a top business school can go some way toward granting these wishes; however, it is important that prospective candidates are ready to put in the work to fully benefit.

Here are four points to consider before you apply for an executive MBA.

Committing to the executive MBA means recommitting to textbooks
Many years may have passed since you leafed through the pages of a doorstop sized textbook. The executive MBA program will, among other things, immerse you in the core concepts of finance, strategy, marketing, operations, and so on. It is therefore important to assess what kind of learner you are and to determine whether going back to study and investing 12 to l 5 hours a week on coursework is viable.

Each top business school will also have its own teaching approach. IE Business School is, for example, well known for its use of the case study method. NYU Stern, meanwhile, places significant emphasis on experiential learning. Kellogg School of Management embraces the team-based approach, while other business schools may be more about individual work. Most schools accommodate all of the above to varying degrees, but it’s important to determine which school’s or schools’ approaches best fit your learning style before you apply.

Self-awareness: Can I successfully do this?
With fees for EMBA programs at some elite business schools hitting six-digit figures, it is important that you assess your commitment levels before you or your employer commits. In the build up to applying, make a list of your personal strengths and weaknesses. Will you be able to balance work, study, and family responsibilities? Can you ride out challenges at the office alongside EMBA project deadlines? Will you be able to stay chipper through the course of the program, or could stress levels exceed sensible levels?

Will your employer be amenable to the EMBA?
It is of course crucial that you do not jeopardize your job or business in any way. You will have to evaluate whether your work is conducive to doing the executive MBA. This is also where you have to sift through the various flexible program choices on offer. Many business schools can fast-track your EMBA so that learning is covered in as short as a 15-month period but are also open to extending the duration of the program as may be required. Different executive MBA programs also offer different flexible schedule options. Classes could be one-week long residentials, or they could be offered over weekends or evenings. For applicants interested in global projects, a large number of top business schools incorporate overseas study stints.

Bear in mind that work obligations may also be an impediment to your performance in the classroom. You will need to have a supportive boss who sees the overall value and transferability of the EMBA; that is, its potential to positively influence you, your team’s and your company’s performance over both the short and long term. Understanding this, your line manager will need to be open to giving you sufficient time sponsorship.

Family matters
The average executive MBA candidate is 38 years old. This means that many students on the program are not only juggling work and study, but the needs of family as well. It’s essential to consult your partner, children, parents and friends before filling out the first boxes of the EMBA application form—these people know you best, and, like your employer, will need to accept the time cost, albeit informally.

The EMBA is the most likely degree to be recommended by alumni
Once you have both family and employer approval, and you know that you have the mental energy and time resources to commit to the EMBA program of your choosing, you can rest assured that you have set yourself up well to get good return on investment (ROI).

The GMAC 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey found that it only took EMBA graduates two-and-a-half years to recoup their investment, largely because they didn’t have to quit their jobs to study full time. Median ROI three years post graduating was 198 percent, which rose to 486 percent after five years, and to a staggering 1,747 percent after 10 years.

The same report stipulates that the executive MBA format, as opposed to full-time, part-time and online formats was the most-favorably recommended by alumni.

Source: First Appeared on TopMBA.com

 

Google Launches Be Internet Awesome en Español, Sé genial en Internet

LinkedIn

To make the most of the Internet, kids need to be prepared to make smart decisions. Google today announced the expansion of its free Be Internet Awesome program, now available en Español across the United States and Latin America, as Sé genial en Internet.

Research finds that among Latino households, Spanish-dominant families are nearly twice as likely as English-dominant families to recommend having conversations about online safety in the home (39 percent vs. 21 percent). Instead of leaving these safety discussions up to schools or other programs, Latino families want the resources to learn about Internet safety and the tools to help talk about these topics at home, according to a newly commissioned report by Google, which provides a look at Latino families and their online behavior and needs.

To help Latino families address the growing need for online safety information and help close the internet safety education gap, Google’s “Sé genial en Internet” program provides Spanish-language resources needed to talk to kids about digital safety and citizenship—both at home and in the classroom. The first-of-its kind program is free and includes Interland, a video game for kids, at-home resources for parents, and a curriculum for educators.

“Discussions around Internet safety should include the whole family,” says Jessica Covarrubias, Google’s Be Internet Awesome Lead. “By providing resources in Spanish, we encourage Latino parents and kids to talk about online safety together at home. We want all kids to have a high quality experience–plus, the program is so easy and fun to follow that even parents can join in on the learning.”

Families are facing challenges with online safety as kids continuously become tech savvier at younger ages. But with higher internet usage, Latino families are in a heightened state of need. The study found that while Latino parents in the US are actively talking to their kids about internet safety, only half feels in control or trusts that their kids will inform an adult if they find inappropriate content. Furthermore, 90 percent of Latino kids haven’t been taught how to address cyberbullying and one in four Latino parents feels they do not have resources to turn to if child is being cyberbullied.

In addition to the launch of Sé genial en Internet, Be Internet Awesome has made a number of updates, including:

  • Curriculum expansions with new activities and an educators guide
  • Updates to the Interland game, including new levels and quizzes
  • Interactive slide presentations, created in partnership with Pear Deck, for each of the program’s lessons to use in the classroom.

Be Internet Awesome is a free multifaceted program designed to teach kids how to be safe and confident explorers of the online world. Being Internet Awesome means 5 things:

  • Be Internet Smart: Share with care
    • (Being mindful of one’s online reputation)
  • Be Internet Alert: Don’t fall for fake
    • (Avoiding phishing and scams)
  • Be Internet Strong: Secure your secrets
    • (Privacy and Security)
  • Be Internet Kind: It’s cool to be kind
    • (Dealing with and avoiding online harassment)
  • Be Internet Brave: When in doubt, talk it out
    • (Reporting inappropriate content)

Interland is a free, web-based game designed to help kids learn five foundational lessons across four different mini-games, or ‘lands.’ Kids are invited to play their way to Internet Awesome in a quest to deny hackers, sink phishers, one-up cyberbullies, outsmart oversharers and become safe, confident explorers of the online world. We built Interland with help from experts in the digital safety space, and it is the recipient of the International Society for Technology in Education’s Seal of Alignment. The four lands and their key learning objectives are:

Reality River

Don’t Fall for Fake.  The river that runs through Interland flows with fact and fiction. But things are not always as they seem. To cross the rapids, use your best judgement and don’t fall for the antics of the phisher lurking in these waters. Learning objectives include:

  • Understand not everything is true online.
  • Recognize the signs of a scam.
  • Understand phishing and how to report it.

Mindful Mountain

Share with Care. The mountainous town center of Interland is a place where everyone mingles and crosses paths. But you must be very intentional about what you share and with whom…information travels at the speed of light and there’s an oversharer among the Internauts you know. Learning objectives include:

  • Be mindful of what is shared and with whom.
  • Understand consequences of sharing.
  • Understand some info is extra sensitive.

Kind Kingdom

It’s cool to be kind. Vibes of all kinds are contagious—for better or for worse. In the sunniest corner of town, cyberbullies are running amok, spreading negativity everywhere. Block and report bullies to stop their takeover and be kind to other Internauts to restore the peaceful nature of this land. Learning objectives include:

  • The web amplifies kindness and negativity.
  • Not tolerating bullying and speaking up.
  • Block and report mean spirited behavior.

Tower of Treasure

Secure your secrets. Mayday! The Tower is unlocked, leaving the Internaut’s valuables like personal info and passwords at high risk. Outrun the hacker and build an untouchable password every step of the way…to secure your secrets once and for all. Learning objectives include:

  • Take responsibility to protect your things.
  • How to make a strong password.
  • A good password should be memorable.

Sé genial en Internet URL: g.co/segenialeninternet

Sé genial en Internet Interland URL: g.co/sejaincrivelnainternet

Be Internet Awesome URL: g.co/BeInternetAwesome

Interland URL: g.co/Interland

 

A Latina Google Strategist’s Views On Authenticity, Embracing Your Identity And The Power Of Instagram

LinkedIn

Dannie Fountain is known as a builder, whether she’s rebuilding her own identity or building a brand, she has a reputation for how tightly she can weave a story that just feels right.

While the skill set was there during her teenage years it was her freshman year of college that challenged her ability to put them to the test.

“I was adopted at 16, changing my identity all over again, and removing my ability to access the historical information that had been shared, because I no longer had access to their source – my mother’s anecdotal nuggets,” explains Fountain. “My identity changed once again during my freshman year of college. Through some health-related decisions, tough conversations, and a DNA test, I discovered that the wholly-British descent I’d been raised to understand was actually pretty off.”

The unexpected medical tests led to Fountain discovering that she was Latinx and deciding to melt into an identity that had always belonged to her.

Now as a strategist at Google and as an independent marketing consultant, Fountain uses her storytelling skills to support brands and their larger missions.

Below she shares how she champions inclusivity in all the spaces she inhabits, what advice she has for other Latinxs, and how she balances both her corporate job and side hustles.

Vivian Nunez: What made you join the team at Google in addition to working for yourself? 

Dannie Fountain: Truthfully, I wasn’t looking for a job when the Google opportunity happened. I was surviving (nay, thriving) in the rollercoaster of “feast and famine” that is entrepreneurship and I truly was in love with my life. When the Google opportunity first cropped up in my inbox, my reaction was one of imposter syndrome – who am I to believe I’m important/talented/brave/strong/cool enough to pursue an opportunity like this? But Google has this kind of kinetic power, one that won’t let you say no. So I pursued it, and the more I pursued it, the more I fell in love. Now, nine months later, I can truly smile when I say Google is my corporate home and the first place I’ve ever worked where I’ve unapologetically brought my whole self to work every single day. 

Nunez: How have you navigated the transition to an in-house, full-time job? 

Fountain: I’ve always been a “side hustler” in some form of the word – whether it was running my marketing consulting firm while in college or running my second business while maintaining my first. But this transition from freelancing to working at Google was an interesting one. Before I came to Google, I was on the road nearly 24/7 for speaking engagements and work. Not only was I coming back into a space where I had a boss again, but I also was going to have an apartment of my own for the first time in nearly 2 years.

The transition was smoother than expected in some ways (i.e. I have fallen in love with having a commute again) and harder in others (I didn’t actually stop traveling as much and so I still feel like I’m on the road all the time). Having coworkers and the resources to do all the things I’ve dreamed of doing is incredible – I love the opportunity for casual collision that sparks these moments of innovation that profoundly change the way I think about marketing. I’m beyond grateful for the access and opportunity I’ve gotten in the nine months I’ve been at Google. But at the end of the day, I’m a Googler and still a freelancer, so really not much has changed.

Nunez: How important is it for you that others understand that you are proudly Latina?

Fountain: In some ways, I feel so much shame for identifying as Latina. My grasp on culture and history is limited. My grasp on language is weak. My appearance is that of a white woman. It took me taking an actual DNA test and seeing the results with my own eyes before I’d actually start checking the “hispanic or latino” box on things, let alone verbally speaking that identity aloud.

But I also recognize my privilege. I know that I have the power to walk into a room and be presumed white and there is so much responsibility in that presumption. There’s this profound sense of urgency to make it unequivocally clear that [Latinx] is who I am, all in, 100%

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.