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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Humu

October 30, 2019 — Written by Liz Fosslien
Our inspiring panel participants!

“A lot of stories are never told. This month is an opportunity to talk about them.”

– Alberto Melgoza, Engineer, Humu

At Humu, we know that the best workplaces are those in which all individuals feel safe being their true selves and valued for everything that makes them unique. With that in mind, we kicked off Hispanic Heritage month (HHM) by gathering together to share and learn from each other’s stories. In a panel discussion, several Latinx members of our team spoke about their experiences growing up, and about how those journeys have shaped who they are today.

Vulnerability is one of the most powerful ways to inspire others—but it requires courage. We’re grateful to everyone who opened up, and excited to share a few of their stories here. 

Alberto Melgoza, Engineering

I grew up in Mexico and migrated to the US as a young professional several years ago. An important lesson I’ve learned over the years is that the journey of an immigrant is about discovering and sometimes even redefining your identity. I’m still working on that. 

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

The Latinx community is rooted in the remarkable journeys of immigrants and descendants of immigrants. Theirs are stories of incredible achievements and contributions across all domains: arts, sciences, social justice, and the advancement of society as a whole. We can learn a lot from them. HHM is a great opportunity for us to come together as a community, show up for each other, and make sure these stories are told and celebrated.

What advice do you have for creating a more inclusive workplace?

It’s hard work but creating opportunities and spaces where everyone can succeed is a fight worth fighting for. It’s good for business and just the right thing to do, so stay strong!

Caribay Garcia, People Science

I grew up in a small town in Venezuela and discovered my love of organizational psychology at 15. To pursue a future in the field—which was essentially nonexistent in Venezuela—I had to move to the US for school.

I really wanted to work at a large organization like Pepsi or P&G, but over and over the career center told me not to waste my time because the “big companies” didn’t take international students. I kept applying anyway, and must have gotten hundreds of rejections. I did get opportunities at a few smaller companies, which helped me build my skill set. My persistence finally paid off when, two years ago, someone at Pepsi took a chance on me. And that job led me to Humu! 

Since I left, Venezuela has almost entirely collapsed. My family now lives all over the world as migrants, and I am currently going through the immigration process. It’s hard, but the more I learn about organizational psychology, and the longer I work in the field, the luckier I feel. And I’m so excited to now be making work better at Humu.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

It’s about celebrating the shared experiences that bring back special memories and make you proud of where you come from. For example, Jose (featured below) brought Algebra by Aurelio Baldor to work to celebrate HHM. This book is used to teach math from 6th to 12th grade in both public and private schools across all of Latin America, so when I saw it at work I had such a strong “WOW” reaction. Two minutes later a colleague from Mexico walked in and had the exact same reaction. To me, that’s HHM!

What advice do you have for creating a more inclusive workplace?

As minorities, I think we have a responsibility to talk about our experiences and to capitalize on what makes us unique. I don’t expect anyone to fully understand my experience, and I probably won’t fully understand theirs. But we can still learn from each other by sharing our stories, and by approaching those conversations with curiosity and respect. Be kind, be empathetic, and treat others as you would like to be treated. 

Jose Alberto Rodriguez, Engineering

I’m originally from Tijuana, Baja California. When I moved to Bell Gardens, CA with my family (including Cacho, a little Chihuahua) after 7th grade, I knew only a few English words. At the beginning of 8th grade, a school counselor asked me to talk about a movie to figure what English course I should take. I had recently watched Spider Man 2, but I struggled to coherently summarize it. I was placed in elementary English as a Second Language (ESL), and began two journeys: learning a new language, and learning to navigate school in the US.

I went on to study Computer Science & Engineering at UCLA, and then took a job as a Software Engineer at Workday. I’ve since been lucky enough to also focus on space exploration at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and to help make work better at Humu.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

HHM is an opportunity to remember those in the Hispanic community that paved the road for others, from people like Edward James Olmos to local heroes. For example, the high school math program I took part in was created by Jaime Escalante, a Los Angeles-based teacher who pushed for students in underrepresented communities to strive for excellence in math and science.

What advice do you have for creating a more inclusive workplace?

We should all feel accountable for building places where each person feels safe sharing who they are. Honest dialogue between leadership and employees is also crucial to creating inclusive environments.

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