Sharing Stories to Support Success

By Susan Ambrose
SC Staff Writer

As part of ESU’s celebration of Latino Heritage Month, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Career Development Center, and the Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc. collaborated to host “Sharing Our Stories to Illuminate Your Paths,” a Hispanic Heritage Month Panel Discussion. The event took place in Stroud Hall last Thursday.

A discussion panel of local Hispanic professionals shared how their heritage influenced their lives and careers. They also touched upon ways in which they overcame discrimination and grew from their experiences.

Included on the panel were Alberto Cardelle, Dean of the College of Health Sciences at ESU, and two ESU alumni, Sonia Figueroa-Pagan, a Curriculum Management Assistant, and Christina Luna, host of Pocono 96.7’s talk show “Tu Voz Con Christina.” Also on the panel were Edwin Prudencio and Fernando Riquelme of Wells Fargo Bank.

In response to questions posed by members of the Mu Sigma Upsilon sorority, the panel members discussed barriers they had to overcome to reach success, shared pride in their heritage, and gave advice to students who may be facing those same barriers.

The panel explained that they found their way to the careers they hold today through perseverance, being proactive, and acting professionally.

Christina Luna attributed much of her success to the Telemundo internship she took while attending ESU and her experience with ESU’s campus radio, 90.3 WESS.

Fernando Riquelme said he enjoys his job in banking because he loves to help people and hopes to “put the human element back into banking.”

Edwin Prudencio voiced his appreciation for banking’s stability and especially its flexibility, which allows him to spend time with his family.

Family seemed to be a strong influence among the panel members. Sonia Figueroa-Pagan said that her mother was her greatest mentor; the two women even taught together in a New York City public school.

Similarly, Prudencio mentioned his father as a positive influence while he was growing up.

On the topic of how discrimination or racism affected their lives, the panel members seemed to be in agreement that they faced the most discrimination as children.

Alberto Cardelle remembers the difficulty of being one of the only Latino children in a predominantly Anglo school.

Luna, who grew up in Spain, said she faced discrimination while she was young because her mother was Middle Eastern. Panel members also advised that this discrimination often stems from ignorance, not bad intentions, and that it is important to persevere and rise above it.

The Pocono Area, according to the panel, seems to be making progress toward being more open-minded and diverse.

Prudencio mentioned the Pocono Latin Fest, and how it can teach about “good differences.” Luna and Cardelle both mentioned La Hispanidad, an event hosted at the Sycamore Grille, a local restaurant, to celebrate Hispanic food and culture.

As the discussion closed, the panel members offered students some final advice on how to be successful in school and future careers: act professionally, use good communication skills, learn to network, and, when faced with discrimination, the best response is to ignore it and be proud of your heritage.

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