Tuesday, November 5, 2013


amNY is Manhattan's highest daily circulation newspaper.

"With the growing popularity of "instant news" on 24-hour TV news channels and the Internet...amNewYork has taken the notion of "instant news" one step further...New York's youth see news as a commodity that you don't have to pay for. They want their news quick and simple. And amNewYork fills that niche."

Today's issue features my column on Millenials (OPINION, pg. 10)

If you did not get to pick up the paper, you can read the piece online by clicking here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Urging Latinos to STEM

A program entitled STEM: Latinos, A Critical Need in America examines the lack of Latinos in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics disciplines (STEM). It features a panel of experts gathered by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE). The panel discuses the need for Latinos in these fields. Fields, that are not only deemed necessary to our future, but that are said to drive our economy as well.

It is estimated that by 2050, the population of Latino school age students will increase by 166%. However, Latinos continue to make up a vast number of high school dropouts. Only about half of all Latino students earn their high school diploma on time.  Those students that do manage to pursue higher education, stray away from STEM fields altogether.

The need for Latinos in these fields is imperative. These fields strive on diversity and the future of our country depends on it.

Watch the video here

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Thanks to NewsBlaze and Publisher Alan Gray for feauturing my piece as their Top Story!

NewsBlaze is an independent online newspaper.

Millenia Generation to Rule America, But is Unemployed

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Unemployed Generation

Image Via www.policymic.com

Move over baby boomers, millennials are way on their way to becoming America’s next great generation! Compromised of individuals between the ages of 18 to 29, millennials are a force to be reckoned with. They are better educated and technologically savvier than previous generations. Politically, they are more active and progressive. From a marketing perspective, they are highly profitable, encompassing the largest consuming power up to date. To top it off, they are vastly diverse, with about forty percent identifying as African American, Latino, Asian or racially-mixed. Yet regardless of these feats, millennials just can’t seem to find a job. 

National unemployment has gone down to 7.3 percent in the U.S, yet the unemployment rate for millennials has actually increased. In January 2013, the rate went up by 2 percent. Three quarters of a year later, the numbers do not seem to be improving. A report released by the non-partisan organization Generation Opportunity on August 2013, specified that the unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 11.8 percent. What’s more is that these numbers do not even fully encompass the entirety of unemployed 18 to 29 year olds. An additional 1.7 million unemployed millennials are not even taken into account by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not active in the workforce, i.e they have given up on looking for work all together.

This issue is hardly particular to the United States. As per the International Labor Organization (ILO), an estimated 73.4 million millenials are unemployed worldwide. Greece leads the pack with 65 percent of their young adults out of work, followed closely by Spain with about 55 percent. Italy does not fare well either, with a 35 percent unemployment rate among the youth, trailed by France and the UK with 22 percent respectively. In China, it has been estimated that one third of the adult Chinese populations is a NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training).

So why is such a large populace currently out of work? The recent recession is obviously a factor, as evident by the current job market. The applicant pool has become significantly larger and employers are filling entry-level positions that ordinarily would have gone to recent college graduates, with older candidates as they have more experience. In a recent statement, the President of Generation Opportunity, Evan Feinberg, noted: “Practically all of the jobs created this summer were part-time, and precious few even went to young people”.

Some experts blame the youth themselves, deeming the cause to be strictly psychological. A Clark University poll conducted on over 1000 “emerging adults” aged 18-29, revealed that 51 percent of those surveyed do not consider themselves to be full adults yet. This apparent lack of identity creates a paradox: If you do not identify as an adult, how can you possible partake in adult activities, such as holding a job?

Others see it as a problem stemming back to Mom and Dad. The Boomer generation, specifically, was characterized by over-expending and under-saving. Such resulted in an accumulation of debt which has since been passed down to their children. Children, now millennials, who with the rising cost of education and the steady decline of available jobs, are consumed by their own debt as it is.

Whatever the cause is, the millennial generation just cannot seem to catch a break. Society itself has turned a blind eye to the crisis; unemployment among millennials has been consistently overlooked by policy debates in Washington. Yet investing in the wellbeing of this generation is not only wise, it is also necessary. Millenials have been called lazy, narcissistic, entitled, screwed. But instead of thinking of this generation as hopeless, why not think of them as hope? Like it or not, millennials represent the future. And as the saying goes, the future depends on what you do today.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Benefits of Mentoring

was approached to be a mentor sometime last fall. At first, I was not exactly sold on the idea. As someone in need of mentoring herself, what could I possibly teach a potential protégée? After some thought, however, I decided to give it a shot. I figured I might just learn something in the process, and at the very least it would serve as a nice addition to my resume.

I became a mentor through a program called YEAR UP.  Year Up is a training program that through a series of skill development workshops, college credit courses and corporate internships, equips low-income youth with the skills, experience and support needed to excel academically and professionally. I attended the first meeting on a cold day in November, not knowing what to expect, but excited at the prospect of embarking on a new adventure. After meeting my fellow mentors, filling out some forms and chowing down on some of the goodies provided, I was finally introduced to my mentee.

Upon meeting Rayanna, I could not help but notice her energy. She was talkative and bubbly, and seemed genuinely excited to meet me. I knew at that very moment that this experience would definitely be worth it. And I was right. I am extremely glad that I chose to take on this challenge. Here are the three most important things I have learned:

1.  Do not underestimate your ability to teach.

All mentees need one thing: guidance. Despite my initial reservations, I knew that ultimately I had the ability to provide such guidance. You do not have to be the smartest, nor most successful person in the world in order to provide direction. The fact of the matter is that you have made mistakes, and thus have acquired some level of experience and insight through time. This is the knowledge that you must bestow on your protégée. Your duty as a mentor is to help them avoid some of the obstacles that you faced, so that they do not make the same mistakes. I have found that mentoring Rayanna comes naturally to me. When she asks me questions, whether about career related matters or about her favorite topic, boys, I immediately have an answer for her. That is because as someone almost 10 years her senior, I have been there before and I’m happy to steer her in the right direction. 

2.  The Mentor gets as much, if not more, from the relationship, as the mentee does.

Physician Frank Oppenheimer said that the best way to learn is to teach. In just a short time, mentoring has taught me a variety of things. One of my biggest goals while interacting with Rayanna is to be a good role model for her. Having this constantly on my mind stimulates me to make smarter decisions and behave in a more professional manner. Furthermore, mentoring has allowed me to refine and improve my communication, leadership and coaching skills. Talking to my mentee about her career goals and expectations, forces me to analyze and question my own goals and expectations and address them accordingly. Thus overall being a mentor has fostered my own personal and professional growth. Perhaps most interestingly, the realization that I am helping somebody else has served as a nice boost to my self-esteem and overall life satisfaction.

3.  Mentoring is for life

During one of our first meetings, I asked Rayanna: “So when does the mentoring program officially end?” She looked at me and laughed: “It doesn’t end”, as if to say “You’re stuck with me forever!” I could not help but laugh back. 

A year later, the YearUp program has come and gone; yet Rayanna and I still make the effort to meet about once a month. My protégé is unlike any other 19 year old I have ever met. She has somehow risen above the apathy that often consumes kids her age, girls in particular. She is driven and motivated, and more importantly she knows it. I have no reservations that she will get very far and I plan to be along with her every step of the way.

Upon mentoring you are not just guiding a young professional; you are in essence adding to your network. You are laying the foundation for a relationship that if nurtured correctly can greatly benefit both parties and award you both an ally for life.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Late Bloomers

An adult late bloomer is somebody that reaches his or her peak at an advanced age.   Sure, we are all inspired by young leaders and visionaries and even more so by child prodigies.  However, there is something quite poignant about those that succeed past their prime.  If you have reached a certain age and have yet to find your passion, don't fear.  The people below prove that it is never too late to find your calling in life.
1.  Kazuo Ohno, Dancer, Age 44
Born in Japan in 1906, Kazuo Ohno became interested in athletics at an early age.  After college, he took a job teaching physical education at a Christian high school.  It was not until the age of 27 that he began to study Japanese modern dance and started teaching dance at an all-girls school.  From then on he was drafted into the Japanese army where he served in WWII.  After the war he continued dancing and in 1950, at the age of 44, he created a highly regarded dancing style called “Butoh”.
From that point on, his career in the performing arts soared.  He wrote several books, starred in films, received several awards and toured all around the world.  Although he lost the ability to walk at the age of 95, he continued performing, creating art pieces with the movement of his hands alone.
2.  Julia Child, Chef, Age 49
Born in California in 1912, Julia Child was a stranger to French cuisine for a great portion of her life.  In her collegiate years she aspired to be a writer, but upon graduation took a job in the advertising field instead.  After being fired for “gross insubordination” she went on to serve as a volunteer for a government intelligence agency during WWII. 
Her husband, also a government employee, was relocated to Paris, and so at the age of 36 Julia Child moved to France along with him.   Child immediately fell in love with the art of French cooking.   She enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu school of culinary arts and published her first book “Mastering the Art of French cooking” at the age of 49.  The premier of her TV series “"The French Chef" one year later instantly made her a local celebrity.   From then on she hosted three other television programs and published several other best selling cook books.  In 1993, at the age of 81, Childs became the first woman inducted into the Culinary Institute Hall of Fame.
3.  Vaclav Havel, Politician, Age 53
Before becoming president of Czechoslovakia and subsequently the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel was a playwright, essayist and poet. 
He was born in Prague in 1936 to an influential family.  Growing up, Havel took on an apprenticeship at a chemical laboratory and joined the military before working as a stagehand for a theatrical company in 1959.  He quickly began to write plays and by 1968 was a prominent participant in the liberal arts reform of the time.   Although his plays were widely successful, Havel’s main passion was protecting human rights. 
During the surge of antigovernment demonstrations in Prague in 1989, Havel became the leading figure among the Civic Forum, a coalition for noncommunist leaders.  As a result, when the Communist Party surrendered later that year, Havel was elected president.  He was 53 years old.  He served for 14 years before stepping down in 2003 and going back to playwriting. 
4.  Oscar Swahn, Olympian, Age 64
Unlike others listed, Oscar Swahn began his trademark profession at a young age.  Born in Sweden in 1847, he started practicing competitive shooting at 16 years old.  However, it was not until his early sixties that his career reached its pinnacle.
He entered his first Olympics in 1908 at 60 years old.  He won two gold medals and one bronze in rifle shooting.   He participated for a second time in 1912, at the age of 64, this time earning one gold and one bronze medal, a feat which made him the oldest medalist in Olympic history.  He competed in the Olympics again in 1920, at the age of 72, consequently becoming the oldest person to ever participate in the games.  To this day, Swahn's record of not only being the oldest athlete to participate in the Olympics but the oldest athlete to place as well, still stands.
5.  Colonel Harland David Sanders, Restaurateur, Age 65
Before his face was plastered on buckets of fried chicken all across the world, Colonel Sanders held an array of jobs.  It is even said that his first wife left him as a result of his inability to keep a trade.  Dropping out of school at the age of 12, he enlisted in the United States Army at 15 then served as a mule handler, a steamboat pilot, an insurance salesman, a railroad fireman, a farmer, a ferryboat entrepreneur, a tire salesman, an amateur obstetrician, a gas station operator, a motel operator and a political candidate (albeit unsuccessfully) before finally becoming a restaurateur. 
At 40, he opened a service station/restaurant in which he served meals to customers right on his dining room table.  His secret fried chicken recipe quickly gained popularity among locals, however as a result of the emergence of a new highway reducing traffic, the business soon failed.   Colonel Sanders, then retired, took his Social Security Check (a whopping $105) and opened the first KFC franchise at the age of 65.  Nine years later, he sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation for $2 million.
6.  Peg Phillips, Actress, Age 67
Born Margaret Linton, Peg Phillips always knew she wanted to be an actress.  However, she dedicated her life to working as an accountant instead.  Never losing her desire for acting, she participated in various theatrical groups.  After retiring from accounting, she went on to enroll in drama school although she never fully completed the degree. 
She got her first professional movie role in 1985 at 67 years old.  She had guest roles on television programs such as “ER” and “7th Heaven” and the movies “Case” and “How the West was Fun” with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.  However she is best known for playing storekeeper Ruth-Ann Miller in the series “Northern Exposure”. 
7.  Anna Mary Robertson Moses, Artist, Age 76
 "Grandma Moses" is a first-rate example of successfully launching a career at a late age.  She dedicated most of her childhood and adult life to farming before retiring in 1935 at the age of 76.  At her leisure, she became skilled in embroidery, yet as a result of arthritis it later became difficult for her to pick up the needle.  As an alternative, she began to paint. 
She was discovered in 1938 when art collector Louis J. Caldor happened upon her paintings displayed in a drug store window.   A year later, three of her pieces were included in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  Shortly after, her exhibitions broke attendance records worldwide.  Her images could be seen anywhere from clothing to cookie jars to advertising campaigns.  She continued painting until the age of 101, and created over 1600 canvasses.  Before fame, her artwork sold for $3 to $5.  In November 2006, her work Sugaring Off (created in 1943), sold for $1.2 million.
8.  William “Bill” Traylor, Artist, Age 83
Yet another artist, William "Bill" Traylor, began painting even later at the age of 83.  Traylor was born into slavery at a plantation in Alabama.  He continued living in the farm well after emancipation. At the age of 83, after most of his relatives passed on, he moved to Montgomery, Alabama.  Shortly after arriving, he thought himself how to paint.
When Traylor was 86, a painter named Charles Shannon purchased some of his art work and arranged for it to be shown at an exhibition in 1940 and then again in 1942.  Unfortunately, the art was not very popular with audiences and there were no sales at the time.  After Traylor’s death in 1949 (at the age of 95), Shannon remained in possession of about 1500 of Traylor’s drawings.  In 1979, he exhibited them at a Gallery in New York.  It was at this point that audiences finally began to appreciate Traylor’s art. His work is now highly regarded and can be found in various public collections thought out the United States. 
9.  Harry Bernstein, Writer, Age 96
Harry Bernstein's writing career may have been short lived, however the mark made by his acclaimed novel “The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers” are long standing.  Bernstein was born in 1910; he spent most of his childhood living in a Jewish ghetto near Manchester.  As chronicled by his memoirs, his upbringing was mostly characterized by poverty, abuse and anti-Semitism.
For most of his life, Bernstein was a trade editor for a magazine.  He also summarized manuscripts for film studios and published a slew of articles and short stories here and there.  However, most of his writing work received little attention.   After the passing of his wife in 2002, however, Bernstein found solace only in writing.  He began his debut novel in 2004 and published it in 2007 to rave reviews.  He was 96 years old at the time.  From then on, Bernstein went on to publish two other books, both also to critical acclaim. 

Friday, July 12, 2013


Back at Chicks Rock Blog 

This time on my Creative Flow!

"Chicks Rock! is a program of The Women's Mosaic, that provides a vehicle for women to share their experiences related to diversity and personal growth. "

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


A new take on temporarily coping with a job you hate

Thanks MsCareerGirl once again for the feature!

"Ms. Career Girl Media, Inc. was founded in 2008 with the mission of helping women style their lives.  We share inspiring content, “life hacks,” great visuals and our real experiences. MsCareerGirl.com is written by a group of diverse young women who live across the US.  We hope that Ms. Career Girl gives you the gusto to get up, take action and create your dream life"

Friday, May 10, 2013

Creative Flow

A creative mind is a happy mind. Researchers have found that among other things, creativity increases job satisfaction, creates more positive emotions and augments the overall well being of a person. Henceforth, it should come as no surprise that people that are creative are happier than those that are not.

To attest to it, think about the times when you’ve been your most crafty. You know, that time you whipped up those pancakes from scratch or when you came up with that really cool hack to save you time in the morning before work. Chances are, you look back at those moments with fondness. That is because creativity often comes from a positive place: love, impulse or even curiosity.

All in all, people highly enjoy the process of being creative. Our history is full of artists, philosophers and mad geniuses whose ideas were so groundbreaking that they seem novel even today. However, lately it seems that the world has lost that creative edge.

We live in a time where anything mainstream pretty much looks and sounds the same: the people standing next to you as you wait to cross the street are all wearing the same style of clothing, the song playing on the radio sounds exactly like the last one you just heard, you look around the subway platform and notice that everyone owns the same cell phone. From music to fashion to the gadgets we use, it is as if there are no new ideas anymore. And the shocking part is, that most of us are O.K. with that. Many of us have become complacent with living our lives without creativity. Researchers have even coined a term for it: creative bias.

Creative bias refers to the fact that people want to be creative, yet reject creative ideas when they have them. Sound familiar? It should, because we have all been guilty of this at one time or another. How many times have you thought about trying a new activity, for instance, yet brushed it off because you thought it would be implausible? Or how often have you wanted to try a new hairstyle, even, but decided against it because you thought it would look ridiculous? We put so much restraint on our own thoughts, that we disregard any possibility of originality. It is as if we are afraid of the stigma that comes from thinking outside the box.

However, as much as we may try to suppress it, creativity has a need to be expressed. We are all creative. Creativity is as much a part of being human as breathing is. The real challenge is in learning to apply creativity to our everyday lives.

Creativity is said to come from the right hemisphere: the same side of the brain that is associated with images, emotions, color, music, expression and intuition. That is why musicians, artists and writers are often described as creative. Even so, you do not have to be the next Frida Khalo nor even have a page on Etsy to be considered creative. Creativity is not just about making collages and writing sonnets, it’s about creating ideas! PsychologyToday defines creativity as the ability to generate new ideas, new connections between ideas and new ways to solve problems. In order to do this you have to open your mind to a new way of thinking.

So next time you have a kooky idea- embrace it! Allow yourself to take a different cognitive approach to a given situation. Take inspiration from your environment, the people around you. Let go of the mental hurdles you place on yourself and let the prospect of creativity sharpen your skills and abilities. Let it boost your resilience and satisfaction with life. Quiet the negative thoughts and let your creative mind flow!

Friday, May 3, 2013


When employees leave, are they fleeing the company or the people in it?

Read my piece on why employees leave managers and what managers can do to prevent it at the Daily Muse!

The Daily Muse is an amazing website that provides career and life advice for professional women. Thank you for featuring my piece!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Do Good Work

Doing good work speaks for itself. It gives you credibility, it gets you noticed, but most importantly it is rewarding. In my opinion, it is a philanthropy that should transcend the workplace and be applied to how you live your life.

Henry David Thoreau urged us to “Be not merely good…[but]…Be good for something”.  Lucky for us, the ways to do so are countless.

Concern Worldwide US is an organization concerned with eradicating poverty in poor countries throughout the world. Founded in Ireland in 1968, it is a non-governmental, international partnership that has targeted poverty for over 40 years focusing on five key areas: Education, Emergency Response, Health, Livelihoods and HIV/AIDS.

Their 15th Annual Concern Spring Run is taking place on APRIL 13 at 9:30am in CENTRAL PARK.

Join or Donate here

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Chicks still rock!

Thanks again to ChicksRockBlog.com for featuring my piece "Remember Your Roots".
"Chicks Rock! is a program of The Women's Mosaic, that provides a vehicle for women to share their experiences related to diversity and personal growth. "

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day!

International Women's Day commemorates the achievements of women worldwide. It was first celebrated in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on March 19, 1911. It is now celebrated annually on March 8th and is marked as an official holiday in several countries.  The United States, in particular, has expanded the initiative by dedicating the entire month of March to women's history.

Women have made many strides in the past couple of years, especially when it comes to business. In fact, it is predicted that by the year 2028, the average American woman will out-earn the average American man.

Recently, Forbes compiled a list of the world’s 20 most powerful women in business. Bellow are ten of my favorites:
  • Sheryl Sandberg- COO of Facebook
Saw the company through its $100 billion IPO this past May and is now part of its board of directors.
  • Indra Nooyi- chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
A consistent ranker on Forbes' list of powerful women. In 2012 she returned $5.6 billion to shareholders and had the net revenue grow 14% to 66 billion.
  • Virginia Rometty- Chairman and CEO of IBM
A 30-year IBM veteran, she is the first woman to ever head the century-old company.
  • Ursula Burns- Chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp
Is strategically trying to re-frame the company as a service business instead of just a seller of printers and copiers.
  • Marissa Mayer- CEO of Yahoo!
Previous employee of Google, she is now working on leveraging Yahoo's franchises in email, finance and sports.
  • Anne Sweeney- Co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group
Oversees ABC Studios, ABC Television Network and Disney Channels, over 100 channels that reach 600 million viewers in 169 countries.
  • Arianna Huffington- Co-founder of online newspaper The Huffington Post
The site sold to AOL in early 2011 and won its first Pulitzer Prize for national reporting this year. She is now focused on expanding globally, working on new launches in Spain and Italy.
  • Diane Von Furstenberg- Designer
Began designing in 1970 with $30,000. Is president of the Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA) and helped launch Fordham Law's Fashion Law Institute and the campaign, You Can't Fake Fashion, cosponsored by the CFDA and eBay to raise awareness against counterfeit goods.
  • Mary Barra- SVP of Global Product Development at General Motors
The highest-ranking woman at General Motors. Oversees 36,000 people and leads the design, engineering and quality of its11 global brands.
  • Sue Naegle- President of Time Warner's HBO Entertainment 
Oversees all series programming and specials, juggling $100 million dollar budgets on huge global success programming.

Inspired to celebrate?
Where: Empire Room 350 Fifth Avenue
When: March 8, 2013 @ 9pm
Description: Music by DJ Vovan & DJ Max Layn.  Face/Body Painting by Elisabeth Belomlinsky.  Photography by JPZ Image.  Belly Dancing by Kaitlin.

But remember, there are still strides to be met:

Where: Union Square, NYC 14th Street and Broadway
When: March 8, 2013 @ 6pm
Description: RAISE THE VOICES OF WOMEN...Join us to read aloud powerful quotes by women.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Workplace Confrontations

You come across all sorts of people while at work:

The ones that think they know it all

The ones that are in a bad mood…every single day

The ones that won’t shut up about their trip to Bear Mountain last weekend

And the ones that complain…

and complain…

and complain.

With all of these different personalities and behaviors, it is no wonder that confrontations often arise at the job. Yet, given that you have to not only see these people but often collaborate with them on an everyday basis, your best bet is to address the issue as soon as you can.

Confrontations are tough. The most important thing to keep in mind is to remain professional and show respect. Your goal should be to reach neutral ground. At best you can arrive at a state of mutual cooperation where you can optimize each other’s full potentials. Often times however, the most you can do is agree to disagree, and that is OK too.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when handling workplace conflicts:

1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Make sure that you come correct. Timing is key. Do not approach the person before they’ve even had a sip of their coffee on a Monday morning and definitely don’t do so at a crowded hallway within ear shot of all your colleagues. Find the right place and time. Also remember that word choice matters, use positive and constructive language and make sure your tone is professional, there is absolutely no need to raise your voice.

2. Honesty is the best policy

Be honest with the person you are confronting, but most importantly be honest with yourself. Know what your personal triggers are, so that you are prepared to deal with them when they arise. Do not say things that you do not mean, like something is OK when it’s really not. Do not make excuses for yourself or others. Remember that if you are honest, people will trust and respect you.

3. Keep it about work

Focus on the workplace behavior not on the person. Do not bring up that time you saw them at a restaurant and they did not tip the waitress. Stick to the topic. If your issue with your coworker is that they are not meeting team deadlines, don’t go off on how they once brought in smelly fish for lunch and the odor wafted through the whole office. Talk about work and work only.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Remember You

A great friend recently informed me of a book reading by writer Junot Diaz in commemoration of Dominican Heritage Month at Hostos Community College. As a Brooklynite, I tend to avoid the South Bronx like the plague, but as a proud Dominican, and a big fan of the writer, I knew that I could not miss that event for the world.

My first introduction to Junot Diaz came through his book “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”. The book left me speechless; it was the first time that I saw my own voice so genuinely reflected on paper, the first time that I related to any one story so much. An audience member at the book reading questioned Mr Diaz’s wide use of Spanish and cultural anecdotes, she found his books hard to read as she felt that she needed to constantly look things up in order to understand the story. To which I felt a sudden urge to scream: “So what?! I have been doing that my entire life!!”

As an avid reader from a young age, I constantly found myself holding a book in one hand and a dictionary in the other. English is my second language, as a result I often struggled with the prose used by some of my favorite writers, from the old English of “The Scarlet Letter” to the colloquial speech of Holden in “Catcher in the Rye”. While reading Junot Diaz’s works and the way he so candidly highlights the simplicity yet unwavering complexity of our culture, I often find myself nodding in agreement…yes, I get this. That is because his story, his characters’ stories, although unique, are my story as well.

Then I wondered, does he know that he is doing this? Is he aware that he has become the voice of a people? A culture? Is he OK with that?

Then more keenly I inquired, isn’t that just part of success?

As a young professional, attempting to make a voice for myself, to be successful, am I willing to accept that? Would I be able to carry the struggles of my culture, a culture so misunderstood, everywhere I go? A culture of people so proud yet often self-deprecating, where being a successful Dominican is sometimes thought of as an oxymoron? I am ashamed to admit that I questioned if it would be too much of a cross to bear.

Suddenly, I realized that I was still at Hostos, and forced my thoughts to quiet down and hear the man talk. So I listened. I listened to not only his words, but how he said them: his constant use of Spanglish, his penchant for profanity, his “This is who I am, take it or leave it” attitude. And what I got from it was this: Believe in your art. Do it with character. Do it the way that feels right to you. Put every inch of you in it: where you come from, your culture, your identity, because that is who you are. You cannot hide who you are. I finally realized that I have no desire to.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Redefining Success

Hillary Clinton is the most important woman in American politics.  That should go without saying.

An article by Arianna Huffington not only points out this mere fact but also ponders, as many of us have, what our former Secretary of State's  next step will be.

The article also touches on an idea not often discussed: women as successful as Clinton and even Huffington herself, as always working, always on the go... always tired.  Is it possible to be "untired and successful"?

Read the article here

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Thanks to ChicksRockBlog.com for featuring my piece "Right Place, Right Time".
"Chicks Rock! is a program of The Women's Mosaic, that provides a vehicle for women to share their experiences related to diversity and personal growth. "

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Professionalism: Is it dead?

I joined a sorority in college because of the caliber of professionalism displayed by the women that made up its membership. Professionalism resonated thought out my intake process and even more so after I became a member. It was something that the women in my organization strived for. Post-college, after being active in the workforce for the past six years, I have noticed two things in regards to professionalism:
  1. Many experiences at work can be perceived as un- professional, to say the least
  2. I have engaged in activities that others may perceive as un-professional myself
Why is this?
Well it is because (and no matter what your industry, I think you will agree) the workforce overall has become more casual. We have all noticed the changes: slipshod dress codes, typos on emails, even office romances. Which begs the question: Is professionalism dead, or is it merely changing?

Professionalism can be defined as:
"the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person"
Professional is then defined as:
"of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession"
Profession, subsequently, is:
"a principal calling, vocation, or employment"
So according to Merriam-Webster , professionalism is basically just having a job. From experience, I can testify that this is not the case. More than merely showing up to work, professionalism compromises a set of socially acceptable behavior in the workforce: hard work, honesty, social responsibility and integrity just to name a few.

Yet in a workforce that is changing as we speak, the spectrum of what is acceptable behavior is bound to change as well. Most organizations are making a shift to business casual, with an emphasis on the “casual”. I for one think this is great. But should the underlying constituents of professionalism have to suffer in exchange?

Diane Harris, Work Manager of Qualitative Research at Procter & Gamble, puts it best in a PowerPoint for slideshare.net.  She encourages people to be PROS:

Put others first
Relationships are key to success
On your honor, on time, on budget
Show respect for yourself, it instantly shows respect for others

This definition, in my opinion, is ideal. We may not always be “professionals” but we should always be “PROS”.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Thanks to MsCareerGirl.com for featuring my piece "Finding Meaning Through Work".

"Ms. Career Girl [aims to] provide you with real stories you can relate to, the modern career advice you are seeking and a bit of entertainment along the way."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Work Resolutions 2013

New Year, new you.  Or at least a better you.  As arbitrary as New Year resolutions are, there is something quite prolific about the idea of personal improvement. For 2013 you may want to eat healthier, exercise more, spend your money more wisely, but while you’re at it, why not strive to be a better professional as well?

Every individual should have a set of unwritten rules they follow while at work. Different from company policies, these rules should have personal stake. They should add value to your work day; help you avoid the pitfalls that many fall under during the 9 to 5. Although your rules may differ from mine, the sentiment should be the same: being the best professional you can be.
My New Year resolution is to follow these at all times:
  1. Practice Etiquette.   Do this, not only because it is the professional thing to do, but because good manners go a long way. People will always remember the way you made them feel. If you show respect for others, chances are you will get respect back.  Here are just some examples:
    • Say Good Morning/Good Afternoon/Good Evening
    • Say please and thank yo
    • Hold the door for the person behind yo
    • Shake hands when meeting somebody for the first time
    • Be nice to everybody, regardless of their position
    • Respond promptly to e-mail
    • Be on time
  2. Stay away from gossip.  Gossip, especially in the workforce, is seldom positive. Stay away from it. If you happen to come across it anyway, forget about it immediately, do not repeat it. A woman I very much admire, always said to me
    "Your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your destiny”
    Negative words lead to negative events. Let somebody else be the carrier of that burden.
  3. Dress for success.  Sure you want to be comfortable, but that does not mean you should look sloppy. Try your best to look polished and put together. Follow your company‘s dress code, it is there for a reason. If there is no formal dress code, observe the way that most of your co-workers dress, chances are there is an unwritten code there somewhere (no street attire, no reveling clothing etc). Use your best judgment.
  4. Do even the most tedious task with professionalism.  The reality is that although your title may be fancy, sometimes your duties are not, and guess what? You have to do them anyway. Try to complete these monotonous tasks, for lack of a better word, without complaining. Nobody likes a grouch, do not be the worker people do not want to be around. Sometimes certain things just have to be done, put your best face forward and do it.
  5. Always strive for more.  Do not stop until you have reached your professional goals. Strive for success at all levels. Never stop developing- personally and professionally. There is always something new to learn. Make it a goal to get closer and closer to your dream with each passing day. Be a better worker tomorrow then you are today.
What are your work resolutions for the New Year?