Q. What is your heritage and what country (or countries) is your family from?
A. El Salvador
Q. What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you personally, and why is it important to celebrate it in the PGCPS community?
A. Hispanic Heritage Month is the acknowledgement of the presence of an important segment of the American population. It is an effort to counteract marginalization. It is an antiracist effort to strike at the heart of racism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, and stereotyping of people groups. It is broadening America's view of what being Hispanic actually means: it's a beautiful blend of colors, cultures, and customs that provides a majestic mosaic of myriad political, geographical, and ancestral backgrounds. Hispanic Heritage Month emphasizes the complexities of an ethnic identity that has been and continues to be influenced by constant clashes between old world and new world forces. Lastly, Hispanic Heritage Month ensures our young people know who they are and empowers them to claim and take ownership of their identity.
Q. How has your cultural background and heritage shaped your perspective as a leader in education?
A. There is a lack of knowledge students have of different groups of people in the school system. I have made sure that in my role as an English teacher and my role as a professional school counselor to challenge the stereotypes our staff and students have of Hispanics in the U.S.
Furthermore, my hope is that my hard work and dedication in education encourages my students to view themselves as future professionals and leaders in the field of education and in any other profession.
Q. What advice do you have for those interested in pursuing a career in education, especially those from Latino backgrounds?
A. Do not let anyone define who you are based on your national, ethnic, racial, or linguistic background. Make no apologies for being in America. You belong here and you are an important part of this country. Take up the challenge to develop yourself to your fullest potential through education, hard work, and dedication. Don't strive to prove to people your importance; strive to live out the importance with which you were already born. You were made for something great; show your greatness in everything you do.
Q. Can you recommend a book, movie, podcast or other resource that students, parents and educators can explore to learn more about Hispanic heritage and its significance in our society?
Hispanic heritage is intricately woven in the American tapestry. It would be harder to try to avoid hearing about an influential Hispanic American than it is to actually find important Hispanic American historical and contemporary figures in America.
I would advise reading the autobiographies of people like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Listen to Latin-American music like Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Research the contributions of Latin-American art and culture on music and visual arts like Frida Kahlo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Gloria Estefan. Research the many racial backgrounds of Hispanics. Research the many American political figures like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.