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Why I Put Aside My Greatest Fear For A Good Cause

Araceli Cruz

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

What is your biggest fear? Let us know by sharing this story and commenting in the section below! 

This Woman Lost It When She Witnessed Her Uber Driver Read His Acceptance To Harvard And It’s The Purest Explosion Of Emotion I’ve Seen

Things That Matter

This Woman Lost It When She Witnessed Her Uber Driver Read His Acceptance To Harvard And It’s The Purest Explosion Of Emotion I’ve Seen

Unfortunately, we see a lot of terrible stories associated with Uber and other ride-share apps but this definitely isn’t one of them. No, this story of persistence, hard work and the power of being genuinely happy for other people’s success is making the rounds and we can’t stop watching it.

On, July 14th, 2019, Twitter user @718rubyy went viral when she tweeted a short video of her recent Uber ride.

Twitter / @718rubyy

In the tweet, she explains that her Uber driver shared with her that she might just be his lucky charm. What might have read as a pickup line, is actually some really awesome news. The tweet explains that — after two years of trying — the unnamed Uber driver has finally been accepted into Harvard University!

“My God, guys! My Uber driver got into Harvard,” she can be heard cheering. “Black Excellence!”

As if that good news wasn’t enough, the response of his passenger made the announcement even better. The Dominicana Uber patron can be heard on the video celebrating and hyping up her driver.

Her Uber driver took the congratulations with a balance of pride and shyness — ducking away from the camera while recording.

Twitter was quick to join in on the congratulations for this Harvard-bound young man.

Twitter / @Ant_OnPoint

This Twitter user had some words of encouragement and advice for the new Harvard student. When you’ve got good momentum, don’t slow down. We’re sure he’ll keep working towards his unquestionably bright future.

Others users pointed out that his passenger’s excitement on video is positively infectious.

Twitter / @Jodemoted
Twitter / @keetron6000

This Dominicana must know that when one of us win, we all win. So, naturally, it makes sense to celebrate this young man’s accomplishments with the energy that we see on the video.

Some Twitter users suggested the Harvard student should continue to explore his luck.

Twitter / @Sirdarius97

Luck isn’t everything. We’re sure getting into Harvard took a lot of hard work as well. STILL, this new student should take full advantage of this good luck streak and hope for more positivity coming his way.

Like any good story, followers have been looking for the romance in this tale.

Twitter / @r8gue

In fact, some were projecting their own romantic hopes for the pair. No word if there’s a love connection resulting from this Uber meet-cute, but we’ll keep an eye out for updates. In the meantime, we ship it.

However, some Twitter users saw it more as an ingenious pick-up line instead of true love.

Twitter / @cubanlxs

We can see how it would seem that way but the news looks pretty genuine. Either way, we respect his game if it’s truly a line.

No matter what you feel about a possible romance between the two, one thing was agreed upon by all.

Twitter / @brazillianphil

Uber story or not, this is the kind of content we like to see on the TL. Good luck at Harvard next year, mystery Uber driver!

Check out the full video below!

Both The Left And Right Are Coming For Rep Omar After Her Latest Tweet About Immigration

Things That Matter

Both The Left And Right Are Coming For Rep Omar After Her Latest Tweet About Immigration

ilhanmn / Instagram

Rep. Ilan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, is receiving criticism from both sides of the aisle after she tweeted that Latinos wouldn’t benefit from a merit-based immigration plan.

Many on the left are upset with her for seemingly have implied that the Latino community wouldn’t qualify based on merit. While many on the right are just hungry for more misinformation and drama surrounding the freshman Congresswoman.

In a now-deleted tweet, the Congresswoman was appearing to question the real reasoning behind a merit-based immigration policy.

Credit: @IlhanMN / Twitter

Often times, the Trump administration has used this coded term to refer to a system of stopping immigration from brown and black countries, or shithole countries as he once referred to many of them.

She clearly stated that immigration policies should be humane, legal, and fair. And welcome people of all sorts of backgrounds.

The Trump administration’s recently released immigration plan doubles down on a merit-based policy, one that research shows is inherently racist.

Credit: @IlhanMN / Twitter

Currently, only 12% of immigrants to the US qualify based on skills and very few Latinos are ever awarded visas of this type.

However, many on the left, including Latinos, are very upset with the Congresswoman’s choice of words.

Some on Twitter did come to the Congresswoman’s defense and noted that a merit-based system would likely work against Latinos. The problem is, she didn’t exactly get the wording right.

Credit: @IlhanMN / Twitter

With the rhetoric from the Trump administration, it’s safe to say this policy wouldn’t be applied equally.

But overwhelmingly, Latinos on Twitter were just sick and tired of being underestimated.

All too often, Latinos of all backgrounds are thought of as impoverished, undereducated, or underskilled immigrants. We are often described as migrant workers or refugees, all of us lumped into the same category.

Yes, there are communities in urgent need of relief from persecution in their home countries, including refugees. But it’s simply not true that they couldn’t qualify under a merit-based system.

Many immigrants from all over Latin America are doctors, engineers, lawyers, with so much to offer the US. This is the point that was lost on many across social media.

And, of course, Sen. Ted Cruz had to chime in and offer his two cents.

Though many were quick to point out that Cruz’s family emigrated to Canada before arriving in the US. And that he himself was born in Canada, making it a lot easier to gain legal status in the US.

All of this just shows how important it is to choose your words very carefully unless you want to invite a firestorm from both sides.

READ: The Latino Community Overlaps With Rep. Ilhan Omar’s Identity And We Need To Support That Community

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