Se Habla Español- Like it or Not
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Returning to campus, our group had the opportunity to share our lobbying experience with the vet school during a lunch talk. In preparation, we met as a team to create a powerpoint presentation about our experience. I had expected we would each be given equal time to share about the experience. However, when they sent out the presentation to all of us, I learned that I had been delegated the least speaking time of all four members.
I was surprised and upset by this and felt it was unfair. Was the decision made based on my perceived introverted personality, or my social interactions with my classmates? Could it be somehow connected to my ethnic “difference” from my classmates? I was disappointed at the possibility that my classmates did not value my voice in the presentation.
A critical lesson I learned from this experience is that regardless of my introverted personality, I have a valuable perspective to share, and all minority students do. My experiences in serving the Latino community, youth outreach, being a first generation Latina veterinary student, and all of my extracurricular activities form a rich body of experiences that give me a unique perspective.
Finding your voice and sharing it with others in unfamiliar settings requires dedication and finding courage. I want to stress how important it is that you strive to develop the strength to speak up, whether in class, group projects, or outside activities. As Latina students, we can offer unique and valuable perspectives in many conversations.
This will often require placing yourself in situations where you initially feel out place just because of the way certain personalities, ethnicities, and socioeconomic perspectives dominate leadership today. However, each of these experiences will help you feel stronger and more confident in sharing your views and ideas with others, serving to be transformative and valuable in teaching you how to assert yourself as a Latina leader.
The path to finding your voice can be challenging, but it is worth it. It will empower you to be an advocate on behalf of others who often are left out of the conversation because their experience is not represented at the leadership table. It is important not to let others intimidate you in this mission. Feel confident that what you have to say is equally valuable as other points of view, because who you are is valuable.
I have never regretted placing myself in situations where I felt out place or forced to face self-doubt in taking advantage of an opportunity to learn. I know with each opportunity I not only learn a new leadership skill, but I also push myself to practice courage and confidence in just acknowledging my fears and still choosing to participate. This reservoir of inner strength is present in you too, and your voice can be instrumental in making positive change when you learn to value it and raise it!