Your Investment at Work

Afro-Latinx Líderes Avanzando Fellowship

Dolly Martinez grew up in New Jersey, but when she was 21, she decided to spend time in her parents’ ancestral homeland, the Dominican Republic, to learn more about her Afro-Latinx roots. Six years later, she returned to the United States with a medical degree. Today, thanks to support from donors like you, Dolly is one of 12 young professionals participating in the UnidosUS Afro-Latinx Líderes Avanzando policy and advocacy fellowship program, an opportunity that coincides with her preparation for medical residency.

“In school in New Jersey, people didn’t know what I was, and I didn’t know how to explain it … why I look the way I look and how I speak Spanish,” Dolly said. When she learned about the Líderes program, she noted, “I felt that, for the first time, there was something out there created specifically for me … the fellowship checked all the boxes: Afro-Latina professional, first generation in the United States. I knew it was speaking to me.”

Most of the research and advocacy work focused on Afro-Latinos is concentrated in the international context. As a result, many Afro-Latinos do not see themselves fully represented in curricula or social justice and advocacy efforts in the United States. The UnidosUS fellowship is geared to first-generation students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degrees and recent college graduates who identify as Afro-Latinx and are passionate about racial equity and making meaningful change in their campus community, workplace, and beyond. Through this initiative, UnidosUS aims to raise the voice and identity of Afro-Latinos, grow the diversity of thought and representation in our national network, and change the narrative of “Latinidad” in the United States.

According to Dolly, the Afro-Latinx Líderes Avanzando fellowship is helping her identify opportunities for growth in her personal and professional life while helping increase public awareness of what it means to be just who she is, a Black Latina professional. “The best part of being in the Líderes program … is seeing more faces like mine … there’s so much potential,” she said. “I’d been away for a long time, and I was looking to do networking, to meet people who are either on the same path or know of the path and can help steer me in the right direction,” she explained.

Thanks to your support, the fellowship program is helping Dolly build her network and hone her leadership skills as she considers how to best serve communities across the country once she becomes a doctor.

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