What is your family heritage/country of origin?
I’m a proud Puerto Rican. My parents were born and raised on the island and I was born in New Haven, CT. I grew up in a predominately Puerto Rican community and Spanish was freely spoken. My family had one foot in the US and one foot in Puerto Rico all of the time. We frequently traveled back and forth during the holidays. The culture is deeply ingrained in me and it’s important to me that my 4 year old daughter knows her culture as well.
I recently received my Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University last May. I received my Bachelor’s degree from Penn State in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
What is your current profession, position and responsibilities at work?
I currently work at Yale University in the Organizational Effectiveness department. I administer nine “Managing at Yale” training programs for supervisors focused on leadership, effective communication, and change management. For the last three years, I have been chair of the career development committee for the Yale Latino Networking Group. In this role, I have successfully created high caliber career development training programs to engage and retain Yale’s Latino staff.
What has been your most important professional or social accomplishment, thus far?
My proudest moment was having my first training program, “Navigating Your Career at Yale”, a successful partnership with our Yale Staffing department, that became a permanent part of our Learning Center curriculum. I love creating training programs that hit at the heart of issues holding back the success of our staff.
As a career strategy and empowerment expert, what challenges have you seen your Latina clients deal with? What advantages have your Latina clients exhibited?
My clients are predominately Latino and African American women and the biggest challenges are internal barriers they carry. These are accomplished, well-educated, and talented women but they are held back by external negativity that they internalized and began to believe. For example, one of the women I coached at Blogalicious was told by a past supervisor that her southern accent was going to keep her from succeeding because no one could understand her. She was told to take voice lessons and to somehow lose her accent. Her dream was to speak professionally in front of groups, and she had a captivating personality and the confidence in her subject matter but she internalized what the past supervisor said. I told her not to work on losing her accent; it was a unique aspect she carried that eased others, and made them comfortable. I could understand her just fine and if she focused on her pronunciation and words, she would not be able to effectively convey her message. It was an unnecessary distraction and keeping her from her greatness. When I told her this, her face changed and she began to cry. All of that pent up anxiety began to leave her as she was given permission to fully accept herself. Each one of us has gifts to share but there are internal barriers that we must work through to let those gifts out.
One of the advantages my Latina clients have is the concept of community. We have been taught at an early age how important family and our community is. I find that Latinas can create and support communities rather easily. This is extremely important when starting businesses and nonprofit organizations. Mastermind groups, business networks are all essentially communities and Latinas can really partner well with existing communities as well as creating new ones for the next generations. Having a support network is very important and is an area of potential growth.
What motivates the work that you do?
When I was in middle school I had a mentor from Yale University who helped me see outside of my poor neighborhood where no one had gone to college, and envision myself getting my degree. As an adult, I had the pleasure of mentoring a young Latina high school student who was at risk of dropping out. I know the importance of having someone be your cheerleader and motivating you to reach your highest potential. I am still in touch with my mentor, and my mentee and I have a close relationship. Helping others, especially the younger generations, will help our entire community succeed. I believe that most people are only limited by what their imaginations can conceive. Some people were taught or allowed to have large imaginations where many things are possible. Others were taught not to dream too big or else there will be disappointed. I am motivated to help people expand their dreams for themselves and show them what is possible.
In what way(s) have you seen your work impact others?
I’m happy to hear many Latino staffers say after my training programs that they feel empowered to change their circumstances, whether it is a work situation and they learn how to find another assignment or they are now aware of training programs offered by the University where they learn additional skills. Empowering our staff with showing them the resources available to them is very transformative. Communicating these resources empower our staff to take control of their career and circumstances.
What has been your biggest personal challenge, and what has been your biggest professional challenge?
Personally, my biggest challenge is balancing my role as a mom with being a working professional. Playing with my daughter, teaching and stimulating her is very important to me while also building great programs at Yale. Thankfully, Yale is a very flexible workplace where I can have a full home life. Building my career development website, www.coachmup.com is a creative outlet that takes a lot of time to maintain. Time management is a challenge as I move to expand my website.
My biggest professional challenge is balancing my work at Yale with my career coaching work. I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to collaborate with wonderful partners and create exciting programs at Yale. However, my biggest passion is coaching clients individually, and in groups, to build their businesses and do work they love.
What is your next big dream?
I believe that our Latino community does not have adequate access to coaches whether life coaches or career coaches that understand the culture and the language. This is an opportunity and I would love to train and support Latino coaches so we can lift each other up to our highest potential.
What is your advice to Latina students and professionals?
My biggest advice overall is to not give up. Especially the students, because I understand the difficulty of being the first in the family to go to school, or having difficulty paying, the stress of student loans, etc. Don’t give up and go get your degree. No one can take it away from you and it can only help you. I’ve had times when I didn’t know how I was going to finish, mostly due to financial reasons, but there is always a way.
For professionals, again it’s difficult if you are the only person of color in your department. You are paving the way for those coming after you. It’s difficult, but you can’t give up. Just stay true to who you are and what you believe in. In places where you are not the only one, work on building the community in your workplace. Network, network, network all the time with colleagues, leaders and all levels. Build your legacy; it will help you when you really want to make a significant change or collaboration. Your track record and integrity will help you get things done.
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