Fierce

Why I Put Aside My Greatest Fear For A Good Cause

I’m not a wallflower by any means. I’m pretty social and thrive on being a leader as well as being a team player, but hand me a mic and I freeze up.

CREDIT: Giphy

There’s no doubt that public speaking is my greatest fear. I’ve never been good at speaking in front of a crowd, no matter the topic, it’s just not my forte. Like I said, I can lead a group, speak in meetings, even give a presentation, but I have stage fright is too real – and I have no idea why. Needless to say, my fear of public speaking has been a huge drawback for me. I’m sure it has cost me in more ways that I can even imagine.

So when I was asked to give a speech to a group of college graduates last month, I was flattered, but also completely scared.

I also knew I couldn’t say no, and here’s why…

I was devastated after the presidential election, and I realized that I had to do something positive for my community or else I’d go on feeling worthless. I made a conscious choice to be proactive and help the Latino community in whatever way I could. My new year’s resolutions definitely did not include “get over fear of public speaking,” but it was to give back and to be of use.

I was informed that I’d be speaking to a group of Latino college students at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

The group consisted of two Latino organizations: the Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

I was also told that this special graduation ceremony was held because Latinos on campus wanted to recognize the hard work and dedication that our community puts into the University. The ceremony would also be in both English and Spanish to engage the families of graduates who, many of them have not felt connected to the University partly because there may have been a language barrier. But most importantly, they wanted an additional gathering in order to encourage current students to continue working towards graduation and not get discouraged.

Here I was presented with an opportunity that fell in line with contributing a positive change. I couldn’t decline the invitation.

I accepted the challenge and now I had to get to work.

CREDIT: Giphy

Writing the speech wasn’t completely difficult. I knew that I wanted to discuss the challenges Latinos face once they become working professionals. The hard part was practicing and reading my speech out loud.

Several people advised me that if I wanted to pull off this speech I would have to practice and practice and practice until I knew each word by heart. I practiced as best as I could, or I should say, as best as my ADD would allow me to. Either way, there was no backing out now.

When I arrived to give my speech, I was told there’d be around 30 people in the room. I thought “that’s not so bad, I can handle that.” Then I saw this…

CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I was calm until I saw the program, with my picture on it! It really threw me for a loop. The whole thing really felt like a bigger deal at that point. The title of the program was “Si Se Puede!” And that was perfect. It was the encouragement I needed.

Then something extraordinary happened…

I met the students and talked to them briefly before the ceremony. Their cool and composed demeanor really put my nerves at ease.

CREDIT: Frederick Serrano-Jimenez

Each and every one of them were so nice to me. Their stories gave me the strength I needed to get up there and speak.

Then the time finally came. I had to get up there and give my speech. I won’t include my entire speech but here’s some of it, including the part that always made me choke up.

“When I was back in that dark place, living at home, taking for granted that I had a roof over my head, I’d look at pictures of my parents when they worked in the fields. The pain that I was going through was nothing compared to the hardships that my parents experienced as first generation Mexican immigrants in this country. They worked picking strawberries or taking care of other people’s kids. They scrimped and saved, and always had to fight to pay the bills. I was afforded the privilege of working in New York because of them, and I was not about to let them down — or myself.”

You can read the entire thing here.

So how did I do? Not bad, but not great either.

CREDIT: Giphy

I tried to make eye contact with the audience while also saying the right words and it was really difficult for me. But the most important thing is that I did it! I didn’t hide or run out of the room.

Looking back now, I didn’t necessarily put my fear aside to accomplish this task. My fear stayed with me the entire time I was at the podium, but I conquered my goal regardless.

My desire to inspire and help others became bigger than my fear of public speaking and I am so grateful that I could see beyond myself.

CREDIT: That’s me and the graduates!

Aside from the stress, I do look forward to doing it again!


READ: This Latina Blamed Her Parents For Her Lack Of Education When She Was A Teen, Now She Is Graduating From UC Berkeley And Thanking Them

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The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

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The First Ever Tribally-Associated Medical School Opened On Cherokee Lands

Credit: Getty Images

In this unprecedented year that has pushed the boundaries of the healthcare industry past its breaking point, a new kind of medical school is making history. A medical school that caters to Indigenous American medical students.

The school is called Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation (COMCN), and it will be the first tribally-associated medical school in the U.S.

Largely the brainchild of former principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Bill John Baker, the project aims to combine the practices of traditional healing practice of the Cherokee people with Western medical teachings.

Bill John Baker’s original goal was to invest money into the Cherokee Nation medical system. His fundraising efforts drew the attention of Oklahoma State University, who approached the then-principal Chief with the idea of opening up a medical school on reservation lands. To him, the decision was a no-brainer.

“After we were removed from tribal lands and there were no teachers, we invested our treasury into teachers. This is a natural progression. Just as our ancestors grew their own teachers 150 years ago, we want to grow our own doctors,” Bill John Baker told Medscape.

As recent reports have detailed, Indigenous communities are being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the CDC, Indigenous Americans are testing positive for COVID-19 at 3.5 times the rate of white Americans. This is largely due to lingering historical inequities and structural failings that negatively impact the overall health of Indigenous Americans.

One of the solutions to this institutional failing is to recruit and train more doctors of color–in this case, more Indigenous American doctors. As of now, 0.4% of doctors in the U.S. identify themselves as being American Indian or Alaska Native.

Since COMCN is a state school, non-Indigenous students are welcome to study at the school as well. According to the university’s states, 22% of its students identify as Native American, while they make up less than 1% of the U.S. population.

The devastation that COVID-19 has wrought globally has spurred an uptick in medical school applications.

In what has been dubbed the “Fauci Effect”, the number of potential students applying to medical school is up 18% this year from last year. It seems that this global health crisis has sparked a desire in certain people dedicate their lives to medicine.

So COMCN couldn’t come at a better time. America needs more Indigenous doctors and COMCN is here to teach them.

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Rep. Ruben Gallego Broke Down Jared Kushner’s White Privilege In A Twitter Thread About Their Paths To Harvard

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Rep. Ruben Gallego Broke Down Jared Kushner’s White Privilege In A Twitter Thread About Their Paths To Harvard

Greg Nash / Pool / AFP via Getty Images

Jared Kushner recently made headlines for saying that Black Americans have to “want to be successful.” Kushner continued in the Fox & Friends interview saying that Trump policies are trying to help them with issues that “they’re complaining about.” Congressman Ruben Gallego of Arizona took to Twitter to call out Kushner and his easy, money-paved path in life after the interview aired.

Rep. Ruben Gallego has a few words about Jared Kushner’s claim that Black Americans don’t “want to be successful.”

Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, was being interviewed by Fox & Friends when he suggested that Black Americans don’t want to successful. He added that the Trump administration has created policies to help Black Americans. Specifically, the Trump administration has created policies to help Black Americans overcome things that “they’re complaining about.”

The interview was immediately slammed by Democrats and activists as being tone deaf. Furthermore, the rhetoric is reminiscent of language used against the Black community for decades to justify policies that disenfranchised and injured the Black community.

Rep. Gallego was one of Kushner’s classmates at Harvard and the two had very different paths to the prestigious school.

Rep. Gallego created a Twitter thread to show the hoops he had to jump through in order to make it to Harvard. As a Latino from a middle class family, Rep. Gallego didn’t have a lot of the same luxuries afford to him like someone of Kushner’s background. The congressman’s story about his way to the Ivy League school is something a lot of people of color can relate to.

The story is an extension and deeper dive into the college admission scandal narrative.

Rep. Gallego detailed his four years in high school with the mission of making it to Harvard. For him, that meant studying for his exams for years with free and used test preps he could get his hands on. There was a community support to make it possible for him to get materials he needed.

According to Data USA, Harvard’s student body is heavily white. The data shows that 41 percent of students are white, 13.5 percent are Asian, 8.19 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and 5.35 percent Black or African-American.

Even the interviewing process was something so many other students didn’t have to contend with.

Some universities, especially ivy league schools, require prospective students to interview with alums and administrators. These interviews weigh heavily in the process and for Rep. Gallego, they were not easy to get to. He had to rely on public transportation to make it to his various interviews around Chicago.

Rep. Gallego spent four years getting ready to go to Harvard.

After four years of hard work and sacrifice, Rep. Gallego was accepted to Harvard. His path to Harvard was filled with friends and family helping him along the way, which is common in Latino communities. It is a story that many of us are familiar with but it isn’t a truly universal story, as Rep. Gallego points out about Kushner.

Kushner’s easy path to Harvard is why the congressman took issue with Kushner’s comments.

Documents show that Kushner got into Harvard after his father pledged a $2.5 million gift to be paid in annual installments of $250,000. Both of Kushner’s parents were also members of Harvard’s Committee of University Resources and donated to the school. In an interview with ProPublica, a former administrator at Kushner’s high school admitted that no one at the school believed that he got admitted on his own merit. The official said that neither his grades nor SAT scores warranted his admission into Harvard.

Rep. Gallego ended his thread asking people to donate to the Biden campaign and the United Negro College Fund.

Rep. Gallego is clearly not letting this story go by without weighing in. Kushner’s comments have set off a firestorm of frustration with people across the nation.

READ: College Admissions Scandal Mastermind Reportedly Told Parents To Lie About Ethnicity To Further Advantage Their White Children

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