Latino Heritage: Gratitude Achievement Purpose

Latino Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship was equally lauded with education at these events.  Amelia Ceja received a leadership award at the Chicana Latina Foundation’s gala for her remarkable work and leadership in the wine industry.  Emigrating from Mexico as a child, Amelia started out in a farmworker household and is now President of Ceja Vineyards.  A trailblazer, Ms. Ceja is the first Mexican American woman to become President of a winery in the U.S.  She has been recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus for her achievements in business and community leadership.  Ceja Vinyeards has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for worthy causes, and is fully committed to supporting the Latino community.

Another outstanding farmworker spoke at the Chicana Latina Foundation gala –that is, after a standing ovation of more than 800 people eventually sat down and gave Ms. Dolores Huerta the floor.  In her speech, she talked about the importance of looking back and looking forward in terms of Latino history and leadership.  Hence, reflecting on the plight and achievement of Latino farmworkers, Ms. Huerta, with razor-sharp focus, honed in on what’s to come. With radiating optimism, she spoke about the present and the future.  She centered on the passion, leadership and achievements of young Dreamers across the U.S.  Striving to succeed in education, Dreamers have united to work at the local, state, and national levels to advocate for and vigorously pursue access to higher education for all immigrant youth.   “We have a new chapter to make,” Ms. Huerta remarked, and it hinges on our Latino youth and their education.

Latino education

In my view, it’s all about education.  Clearly, I’m not the only one thinking this way as the brief references to speeches above show.  Yes! Education, education, education.    I recently worked with Independent Television Service [ITVS> as they produced Los Graduados, a film by Director Bernardo Ruiz shown on more than 100 PBS stations and in community screenings across the U.S.  Los Graduados features six Latino high school students who overcame seemingly insurmountable barriers, and resolutely refused to drop out despite clear odds against them, ranging from immigration status to teenage pregnancy.

These students, following their dreams with conviction and strong support networks, graduated from high school and became leaders in their own right.  Indeed, these educational and leadership achievements are emblematic of what’s possible for Latino youth.  Dr. David Lopez, Chancellor of the National Hispanic University in San Jose, knows this full well.  I saw him the other day at one of these events and we talked at length about education.  He’s on 24/7 to ensure that Latino youth enroll in and graduate from college.  His visionary work too, symbolizes what Latino leaders in education know is possible for our youth.

Three words keep streaming through my head as I continue to attend events, hear stories about honorees, speak with them and other Latino leaders, and engage in my work:  Gratitude.  Achievement.  Purpose.  These three words move through as if on a ribbon circling my mind, –orbital and fulfilling.

So many people doing so many wonderful things, I am grateful for their dedication to higher causes.  Their achievements are a true testament to their Latino heritage, and their dedication to community in the U.S.  In all this, I continue to find a true sense of purpose for my work and volunteering with the Latino community.  In fact, I know for sure that every month is Latino Heritage Month in the United States.

Back in my garden today, I’m looking at that blue sky again.  I think I know why I’m looking up:  That sky is as open, bright and vast as the paths Latino leaders are creating for their communities and for the U.S.  That breeze coming from the Pacific Ocean feels good. I’m grateful.

Read more inspirational Latino stories here
Hispanic Heritage Inspiration Celebrated
Finding our Entrepreneurial Seeds Through Self-reflection
Creating Space To Re-energize The Self And Business 

Mara Perez
Mara Perez
Mara Perez, Ph.D. As Founder and Principal of Mara Perez, Fund Development and Planning Services, Mara provides fundraising and strategic planning services to non-profits. Mara has helped over seventy organizations obtain funding, design innovative work strategies, and execute growth plans. Mara holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Community service includes: 2010-present Board Member of Marin General Hospital; 2002-2012 Board Member Canal Alliance, twice Board President; 2005 Spirit of Marin Award, Business Person of the Year; Coro Leadership Community Fellow. She has published articles about immigration, social change, and fundraising. Born in Argentina, Mara resides in California.

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