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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! 

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Argentina Just Appointed The First Trans Chief Of Police In All Of Latin America And People Are Showing Tremendous Support

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Argentina Just Appointed The First Trans Chief Of Police In All Of Latin America And People Are Showing Tremendous Support

@YahooCanadaNews / Twitter

Credit: Fusion

Argentina has appointed the very first transgender Chief of Police in Latin America.

After having been dismissed from the police force for coming out as trans several years ago, Analía Pasantino returned to the force after a change in the administration.

Pasantino joined the police force in 1988, working as a male police officer during the day and spending her evenings in dresses. In the video above Pasantino speaks about hiding her identity and not having the courage to even get out of her car dressed as a woman. She eventually found the courage to be her true self, especially with the support of her wife.

In 2008 she finally came out and revealed to her job that she was trans. They swiftly put her on a leave of absence after having given 20 years of her life to the force. According to the Associated Press, she spent nearly a decade trying to prove her mental fitness in order to come back.

Much of Pasantino’s reinstatement is due to change in sentiments and laws in Argentina, which has become a leader in LGBT rights after making same-sex marriage legal in 2010 and passing laws allowing citizens to change their gender without having to jump through legal hoops in 2012.

There is lots of support on social media for Pasantino.

This tweet from @Oveja_Rosa reads “Beautiful news.”

People are celebrating her return to the police force and are so happy for her.

https://twitter.com/voceslatinx/status/864854012729982977

“Congratulations!” said @VocesLatinx

Pasantino sees her appointment as a victory for not just herself, but for others in the trans community as well, saying “At first I was a bit overwhelmed by so much attention. But I’m proud to tell this story and I hope it helps others as well.”

CREDIT: American Idol / FOX

We are proud of you, too.

[H/T] Argentina’s first transgender police chief on duty

READ: Her Transgender Son Helped The First Latina Senator In Florida Stand For LGBTQ Rights


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