I wasn’t the first person in my family to finish college, but I was the…
I’ve been reporting on Latina entrepreneurs for over three years now and every time I sit down to chat with a Latina trailblazer there’s always something that comes up — their desire to pay it forward and bring others up with them.
I’m sure that this is a quality many people across the world identify with, but there’s something about my own story as a first-generation Latina that underscores how much paying it forward is both a part of my history and what I want to be my future.
I was sponsored through high school and it was that four year education that ultimately helped pave the way for me to be able to graduate and break so many cycles later in life. I don’t take it for granted, it’s why I choose to donate my time and a few bucks every month to an organization that helps support girls’ education.
This is also why I believe so strongly in uplifting the stories of those within our own community because the more representation there is across media, the more likely it is for someone who is just starting their career to know who to reach out to for an informational coffee that may help open the door to a new career.
Whether you’re in high school or newly graduated and about to start your career, there are various ways that you can start paying it forward today and helping uplift someone as you continue to grow.
Volunteer with organizations that resonate with you
I sit on the board of an organization that helps support girls education but before I did that, I would volunteer for the same organization as a translator from time to time. When I was in high school, I recall spending my afternoons helping tutor others in my class who were struggling with english or math. It’s never too early to start honing in on the habit of paying it forward in ways that make sense for you.
You’re not too young to mentor
By the same account, you are never too young to mentor. There is always someone who you could use your guidance — especially if you’re surrounded by others who are first-generation and navigating college applications, for instance, for the first time. Extending out a hand to someone who is a bit younger than you can help create a domino effect that they will later help continue themselves.
Include your family in your life in ways that make sense to them too
It’s hard for parents, or families, to sometimes understand the nuances of your new life — whether it’s a different school system than they were ever exposed to or a new career that didn’t really even exist 10 years ago. Hold your parents by the hand and introduce them to the parts of your life that are uniquely yours, they may not understand everything but it’ll be a nice way to pay forward everything they’ve done to help get you where you are. It’ll remind them that you’re building a tomorrow that is future-facing and it’ll remind you that you have them to thank for it.
By Vivian Nunez