This Women’s History Month, UnidosUS staff joined our DC-based Affiliate Mary’s Center for an Entre Mujeres panel event in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Entre Mujeres, an UnidosUS education Affiliate program launched in 2016, is a Latina-focused initiative that aims to address the pressing needs of young Latinas and make an impact on their lives, with the hopes of empowering them to grow as leaders and make change in their own communities and beyond.
The Entre Mujeres program at Mary’s Center boasts a membership of 50+ young girls led by program coordinators Katya Quintanilla and Kimberly Giron. The panelists—all women—represented a variety of industries, ranging from legal services to computer science to public health. The panel was moderated and led by an Entre Mujeres student herself, Nia, a senior at a local DC area high school. The students submitted all the questions for the panel themselves, to ensure that they were getting the maximum benefit from the panel and learning useful information for pursuing their own professional careers.
Entre Mujeres instructors, Kimberly Giron and Katya Quintanilla, post for a photo at Mary’s Center.
Some questions the students came up with were:
“Who is a role model you look up to and why?”
“What helped you decide to pursue the career you chose, and how did you know it was right for you?”
“What inspires you to do the work you do?”
“What is something you think you need to work on in your professional life?”
The panelists offered very insightful answers that helped the girls gain a deeper understanding of the journey ahead of them in choosing a career path and reaching the goals they set for themselves. Panelists also discussed unique experiences that relate to many Hispanic students, such as the first-gen student experience.
“My parents did a big sacrifice—moving to this country and starting from the ground up,” one panelist remarked. She went on to discuss that because of the magnitude of her parents’ sacrifice in migrating to the United States to provide her and her siblings with a better life, she feels an increased sense of pressure to succeed and make their sacrifice “worth it.” On the other hand, this family history is also a motivator to succeed.
The panelists were also asked if they had any advice that they would provide the girls in seeking to achieve their professional goals.
Mary’s Center panelists: Andrea Coronado, Assistant U.S Attorney; Magdalena Acevedo, Assistant U.S Attorney; Osiry Joya, Photographer; and Carolina Ramirez, Technology Field.
“Make sure you love what you do. Knowing what you’re doing it for…Thats what it’s about. That will motivate you and give you happiness when you go to work,” one panelist answered.
“Be patient with yourself in learning and adapting to the new environment that you’re in, whatever that may be,” another panelist added.
“Be around people who are supporting your dreams and your goals,” asserted another panelist.
The panelists also discussed difficulties of being a professional and accomplished woman in male-dominated industries.
“A lot of people in the technology industry are male,” one panelist stated. “I’m the only female on my team. When clients ask questions, they typically always look at the male first for an answer instead of me. We often have to prove ourselves more. I hope we get to a place where we see more women represented in this industry, and in others as well.” During this conversation, all the panelists emphasized the importance of knowing that women are just as qualified as men to hold the positions they do, and to never let anyone make them think that isn’t the case.
The Entre Mujeres girls left the panel more informed, more confident, and more prepared to pursue their dreams thanks to the wise words of the panelists. That is one reason why it’s so important that we celebrate and encourage young women, not just during Women’s History Month, but all year round.
Women’s History Month is a celebration of empowered women who have changed and continue to change the world. Through our Entre Mujeres Affiliate program, we hope to empower young Latinas to recognize their personal worth, strengthen their leadership abilities and self-confidence and leverage their cultural assets to serve as agents of change in the Latino community and beyond. We are exceptionally proud of all the Entre Mujeres students and can’t wait to see all that they accomplish using the skills and insight they gained through this program.