Hispanic Heritage Month – Profiles
Assistant Counsel, UPMC
Tell us about your heritage.
I was born in Mexico and relocated to the United States back in 2008. I have been living in Pittsburgh since then, and now I am a proud naturalized U.S. Citizen. I identify as Latino. My first language is Spanish. I also speak a little bit of Portuguese, a third language I learned while attending the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
How do you like to celebrate your Latinx heritage?
By keeping connected with the Hispanic community in Pittsburgh. Specifically, by serving my community through volunteer work with non-profit organizations that work with the Hispanic community in Pittsburgh. When I arrived here back in 2008, there were organizations and people that helped and welcomed me to Pittsburgh, so I try to do the same now when I can.
I also celebrate my heritage by showing friends some of my traditions and culture, such as the food, music, history, special holidays, and Mexican traditions in general. One of my favorite holidays I enjoy sharing is the “Día de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead). This is a very special celebration in Mexico where we remember our ancestors, but it is also a day to celebrate life, too. The life of our family members that are no longer with us and our life that we share with them. I also really enjoy dancing to Latin music.
What do you find inspirational about Hispanic Heritage Month?
This is a month to celebrate how people of Hispanic heritage have enriched the United States with their culture, traditions, and hard work. The history of United States has been defined and shaped by many cultures, including the Hispanic culture. Today it is estimated that over 60 million people of Hispanic descent live in the United States, making up the largest minority group in the United States.
This month also serves as an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our culture and traditions with our community, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to share our culture and traditions with folks who have not had the opportunity to learn or experience the Hispanic culture.
What movie, TV show or book would you recommend to someone who wants to be a better ally to Hispanic people?
I love the books of the Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I recommend One Hundred Years of Solitude. Through its magic realism, the book literally transports you somewhere in Latin America where you can actually feel, smell, touch, and experience what the Latino culture is.
Do you have any suggestions for people who would like to travel to Latin America?
As a Mexican of course I am biased, so I recommend anywhere in Mexico. My hometown is Puebla, which is a wonderful city full of history and culture. Puebla is a city in east-central Mexico well known for its colonial architecture and great cuisine. I recommend trying the Mole Poblano, which is probably one of the richest culinary experiences you can ever encounter. Of course, I also recommend the amazing Mexico City. While in Mexico City, you should visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Frida Kahlo Museum.
What advice would you give to a young Hispanic lawyer just starting out in their career?
Be proud of your heritage and never forget your community. As attorneys, we are in a privileged place, and part of that privilege is our duty to serve in any way we can to our community. No matter what type of law you practice, you can always help and remain connected with your heritage and community. Also, always try to inspire and mentor young Hispanics to join the profession. We definitely need more representation in the legal profession. As for others in the profession, Hispanic attorneys are always willing to help, so feel free to reach out if you need support.
What advice would you give legal employers about what they can do to make workplaces welcoming and supportive for Hispanic lawyers?
Lead by example. Legal employers need to hire individuals of diverse culture, experience, and backgrounds in all levels, but particularly at the attorney level. Employers need to ensure that diversity and cultural awareness are core components of their values as organization. It is not just good business practice, but it is the right thing to do.