Embracing My Professional Journey and Latino Identity

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By Edgardo Pérez, Director of Coach Experience, Braven Bay Area

edgardoLatino male. Child of immigrants. Low-income. English as a second language. First-generation college graduate. What comes to mind?

While these identities are often classified as “risk factors” or “predictors” of negative outcomes in life, for me, they describe some of the assets of which I am most proud.

Embracing my heritage has been important both educationally and professionally. As immigrants, my parents taught me the importance of grit and hard work–and embracing these values helped me immensely.

When I walked the commencement lines amongst the graduating class of 2007 at Marist College and the class of 2013 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education I knew I had my parents, my culture, and my heritage to thank. Believing in the strength of my identity helped me win the “Unsung Hero” employee award at Nickelodeon and land my current job as a Director of Coach Experience at The Braven Accelerator. Without the markers that some call “risks,” my achievements would not exist.

My experiences growing up in an immigrant Latino household between the U.S. and Dominican Republic have also helped me help others. In Hyde Park, Massachusetts, I counseled high school seniors who were at a crux of choosing between the careers they dreamed of and the careers their families—who had worked so hard to get them to that point—wanted them to have. I’ve connected Braven Fellows at San José State University to Latino professionals in the area who can provide advice for navigating the Silicon Valley job market. In moments like these, I am reminded that my story and my values–who I am and where I come from—are valuable assets wherever I go.

If you would’ve asked me in college if my Latino identity was important for my career, I would probably have said no. But now, over 10 years into my career, I can see that it’s more important than ever. So with the close of Hispanic Heritage Month, I’ll be continuing to work to help young people find a way to celebrate their identities every day of the year. Together, we will show the world a different story: we’ll prove our identities are the root, not the risk, of our success.