Katella Silva: Speaking up at the table
“When you are at the table, you cannot be shy.” Ron Gonzales, the president and CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, recently spoke to a group of Latinos in Technology scholarship recipients about the importance of speaking up especially when you are the only Latino in the room. The Hispanic community makes up 26% of the Silicon Valley population and only 3% of the high tech workforce. This means that being the only Latino in the room is not an uncommon experience and it is an experience that many of our scholars have or will face throughout their careers.
Through my time at the HFSV, I have been reminded of the grit and resilience of the Hispanic community time and time again. Everyday Latinos have to stand up and fight for their voices to be heard throughout our community when they are often being overlooked or even silenced. Seeing and hearing about the way the Hispanic community has persevered through these hardships has changed the way I view my own role within this community.
I began to notice that most of the time I am the only Latina in my classes. Initially, this weighed heavily on me and made me more hesitant to speak up during class for fear of saying the wrong thing and not representing the Hispanic community well. After reflecting on it a bit more, I realized that the best way to represent my community is not to silence myself but to use my voice to be a role model and a positive representation of the Latino community.
The practical business skills we learn at LSB help a nonprofit run, but what brings it to life is the heart of its workers. Working with a team of all Hispanic professionals at the HFSV, I get to experience that heart, grit, and resilience everyday as we work together to create a better future for the Silicon Valley Latino community.