I have talked about my identity as a Latina extensively (on Twitter, on this blog, etc.). I have talked about how not seeing Latinxs in STEM made me wonder if I could fit in and be a leader in the field. I have talked about how that lack of visibility, that lack of relatability, inspired me to create ConCiencia Azul (with Andrew Lewin being the true mastermind behind the podcast), allowing me to use my microphone to change how Latinxs are represented in the marine world.
When I was young, I would’ve liked to have had a mentor or just a professional figure to ask for advice. One who came from a similar background such as myself so when I came in with arroz y habichuelas or my pasta de frijoles during lunch I wouldn't get asked, "What is that and why are you eating it?" I would also be some stereotype (or 'beating' the stereotype because I didn't get pregnant as a teenager or go into drugs 'like others from where you are from') and it angered me that compliments I got would always be backhanding my background.
The loneliness persisted until my early 20's and I decided to become the person I wish I had growing up. I knew far too many minorities who wanted to pursue x career in x field but didn't for a myriad of reasons -- one being that they didn't see themselves at the leadership table. I hated knowing that brilliant people were not fulfilling their calling because they felt isolated. For many students in high school or early college they can become overwhelmed by not knowing what route to take or what questions to ask.
It's one of the reasons why I created the FAQ page on The Fins United Initiative. I try to share my story- what I’ve learned - and share it with not only my Latinx community but anyone interested to learn from my experiences and maybe get an idea of what they can do, too. We always say, ‘See it to be it.’ And while there are other reasons for minorities not joining the STEM force (such as cultural pressures, lack of access to educational resources, language barriers, etc.) if students don’t see themselves in the field of their choosing, it’s very hard for them to be convinced to join in.
My story is one that has been shared a lot. I hope it tells anyone who reads up on me how we should all look past stereotypes and not let other people’s expectations for you become your reality. I hope it gives people hope to knock on doors they previously were scared of walking up to. And I hope that this series I am sharing, Mi historia, can allow you to see yourself in some of these stories (some in English, some in Spanish) about corruption in their countries, racism they face in an English-dominant industry, women fighting against a culture that tells them to stay home, and more. This is my way to use my privilege and platform for mi raza. This what I’m bringing to the table this National Hispanic Heritage Month 2018.
Mi historia is a collection of stories from the Latinx community about their life. Their struggles, their triumph. Their history - our history - highlighted during a month where we celebrate our roots. These are their stories. These are our stories.
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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