Becoming A Better Leader: What USHLI 2017 Taught Me

By: Kristopher Perez, President of Scripps Hispanic Network

There were a lot of important lessons that I took back to Athens from my experience at the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute National Conference, but the one that I deemed most important was the unity factor. During the conference, I was in a room with people who looked like me and shared the same background as me. Everyone was connected in some way, and those connections and networking opportunities are what made USHLI 2017 a conference to remember.

The first day of the conference (that SHN attended) was filled with empowerment and unity, but the second day was filled with information regarding how we presented ourselves as individuals, what the importance of Latino vote was in the election and misconceptions surrounding Latinx in higher education.

All three of these topics were explored and dissected in a large panel forum on the importance of the Latino vote, a personal branding workshop and a workshop explaining how it’s important for us as Latinx to respect different perspectives within our own culture.

The forum was titled “An Analysis of Victories and Losses in the 2016 Elections: Organizing for the Census and Future Elections,” and focused on giving those in the audience the information they needed regarding the Latinx vote in the elections this year, and what we needed to do to make a difference in the years to come. The discussion was started by Rudy Lopez, a consultant from L.A., who spoke about why it’s important for our generation to mobilize and make a difference at the polls.

“We know what can happen when things don’t go our way, so we need to make a difference and take initiative.”

Lopez drove home the fact that we should be registering to vote in order to make a difference, and if you can’t vote, go out and register two to three people to vote. The only way we can have representation is if we make our voices heard.

The other two panelists focused on two very important topics: “Hurricane Donald,” as explained by Thomas A. Saenz, the President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and Prison Gerrymandering explained by Juan Cartagena, the President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice, PRLDEF.

Both topics struck a chord, and give me a perspective of things I didn’t really think about beforehand. Those who are in prison are taken away their right to vote, and Cartagena made it clear it was something he was extremely passionate about.

“We have to deal with the fact that voting is a privilege, not a right.”

Saenz, on the other hand, spoke about how regardless of what this administration does to persecute other, we must fight back with our words and by getting involved. Without involvement, change cannot occur. This is something I think every speaker touched on throughout the whole day. We cannot be heard if we never speak up.

“We are, in the Latino community, the first responders. We are the front lines. There are opportunities in what we face in the Trump era and we have to take advantage of them. You need to be talking to your peers daily about conquering ‘Hurricane Donald’”

Politics weren’t the only focus, the rest of the day was focused on how to better ourselves and become better leaders.

One of the workshops that I attended was titled “Debunking Misconceptions of Latinx in Higher Education,” where we heard from Dr. Elena Foulis from The Ohio State University about how Latinx should make sure to have a cross-cultural perspective. Everything doesn’t revolve around one culture, and different cultures certainly have their own views and opinions. Without this understanding, division occurs instead of the unity that should happen.

“Language, names … It’s part of who we are and how we tell our story. Sometimes as Latinos, we’re not aware of cultural differences. Cross-cultural awareness is important.”

Seeing things through another worldview is important and can lead to better understanding in different cultures. USHLI allowed me to see that and understand that not everyone is on the same level that I am. I may have more privilege than others, and I need to use that to be the voice for those who don’t have one.

A lot of knowledge was passed down to me throughout the USHLI conference, but what stood out to me the most was the way the panelists acknowledged the hardships occurring with Hispanic and Latinx currently and how we all have to come together to get through those hardships together.

The conference was the unifying of hundreds of people who were just like me looking for the same thing: how to be a better leader, and how we can impact the way people see us in the years to come. I definitely credit USHLI with giving me a larger perspective on what’s going on in our society, and what I can do as a student to make some changes.

You can follow me on Twitter (@kperez85) as well as follow Scripps Hispanic Network (@scrippshnet) for more updates throughout the year.




The Importance of National Conferences

By: Natalie Butko, Public Relations Director of Scripps Hispanic Network

National conferences can be a huge commitment— both for your wallet and your schedule. As an attendee of several national conferences, I have learned the benefits tend to outweigh the costs. Just a day into the United States Hispanic Leadership Institution (USHLI) National Conference I can see the lasting impact this conference will have on me.

Day one of the conference consisted of workshops, a luncheon with speakers, and a choice of a forum.

I find workshops a great personal benefit of conferences. Today’s workshops focused on everything from self-awareness to knowing your rights. While I had to pick only two workshops to attend today, I would have loved to attend all 9 of the workshops offered. By utilizing the workshops offered at national conferences, you can leave with new knowledge in many areas that you may not usually be exposed to.

The luncheon was more than just yummy food. We heard from inspiring speakers such as R. Mateo Magdaleno, who overcame adversity and now gives back by helping others in similar situations achieve a higher education.

“We have to be more than our circumstances,” said Magdaleno.

Speakers at national conferences can often be a once in a lifetime opportunity. National conferences tend to have the money and connections to supply speakers that may be impossible to hear elsewhere.

The luncheon also was a great opportunity to interact with attendees from around the country. At the luncheon our group was seated with students from Kalamazoo College and University of Cincinnati. Hearing from peers at a national conference can be just as beneficial as professionals. Talking to the students seated with us at the luncheon gave us time to talk about what challenges we each face at our schools in regards to the organizations we were representing.

After the luncheon I attended the forum Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Millennials (STEAM) because of my interest in the arts. Often times at national conferences, the best connections can come out of the most unexpected situations. Scripps Hispanic Network was able to network with Salvador Mendoza, the Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusion at NBCUniversal after the forum. We all walked away valuing the time we spent talking to Mendoza about diversity and media.

National conferences leave you feeling recharged and inspired. After one day of the USHLI National Conference I am already ready to implement some great new ideas at Ohio University for Scripps Hispanic Network.

You can follow me on Twitter (@chatty__natty) and follow Scripps Hispanic Network’s journey through USHLI 2017 by following the hashtag #SHNatUSHLI.

“Mujer! Rise, Grind & Shine” at USHLI 2017

By: Alex Darus, Social Media Cordinator at Scripps Hispanic Network

Marisel Herrera, the director of the First Year Success Center at Arizona State University, led a workshop entitled “Mujer! Rise, Grind & Shine” at this year’s U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute National Conference in Chicago. Herrera talked about the importance of working hard and not letting haters get people down in order to succeed.

Coming from a troubled past, Herrera used her own situation and talked about her downfalls and overwhelming successes. Some advice she gave was for people to wake up early, focus on their goals and never give up.

“Successful people … recognize when they don’t know something and (are) confident enough to ask for help,” Herrera said. “No matter how bad your situation is, the person to your left or right could have it worse and they’re not giving up.”

Herrera also emphasized the importance of pushing and taking care of yourself, because no one is going to love you more than you do. She also discussed not dwelling on failures but learning from them.

“There is nothing you can do about the past but learn from it and not repeat it,” Herrera said. “Failure is an event. It’s not an identity.”

You can follow me on Twitter (@_alexdarus) and follow SHN’s journey at USHLI 2017 by following the hashtag #SHNatUSHLI. 

Core Values Never Lose: An USHLI Recap

By: Kristopher Perez, President of  Scripps Hispanic Network

The U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute put on its 35th National Conference in Chicago, Illinois with the motto/theme of “La Lucha Sigue! Core Values Never Lose.” Before attending the conference, I found myself asking what exactly that theme meant, but after a busy day filled with valuable information of how to succeed as a Latino in a growing, often divisive society, I was filled with a sense of enlightenment. Core values never lose. The values my parents have passed down to me continue to thrive through me, and USHLI made sure that was prevalent throughout the day.

Our day started with an educational achievement luncheon, an introduction into what the rest of the day would hold. The ballroom was filled with student leaders from all over the country: Oregon, Illinois, California, Alabama … all with ties to their Spanish roots. A large majority of us in the crowd were First Generation college students, but regardless of the fact that I was in a room with thousands of people that I had never met, I felt a strong sense of unity. We were all together to learn and to grow as students and leaders. We were there to learn the skills we needed to make a difference.

Our welcome speaker was the Honorable Susana A. Mendoza, the first Hispanic to ever run for and win a statewide office in Illinois as a Democrat. Did I mention she has also made history by becoming the first woman ever elected as Chicago City Clerk? Mendoza stood out to me solely because of her passion and her ability to fire up the entire ballroom.

“Don’t get down, get active.”

Those words resonated with me for a lot of different reasons, but mainly because I, personally, believe this is something everyone needs to hear right now.

“Don’t get down, get active.”

Things may be difficult right now for those who are Hispanic or Latinx, but that doesn’t mean we should all shut down. In order to achieve change, we need to act. The only way we can create change is to progress and to bring those who are behind us, with us. This idea was one that Raul Mateo Magdaleno made sure to emphasize during his closing remarks. Success isn’t something that happens individually, it happens through unity and support.

“Given the political climate that we’re in, I believe there’s no better time to grow and to rise. Sometimes the worst has to happen so the best of us can come out.”

What’s stopping us from success? Sometimes, it’s a variety of things, but it’s important to rise through adversity. Without adversity, we have no character. I’ve experienced downfalls and criticism over the color of my skin or my last name, but that didn’t stop me from pushing through and being successful in my goals and aspirations. Magdaleno, having to grow up at a young age due to his father and all of his brothers being in prison, persevered through his hardships. He rose up, and encouraged us to prove those who doubt us wrong.

Hearing those stories and those words of empowerment motivated to be a better leader and return to Athens and Ohio University with the skills to ensure Scripps Hispanic Network thrives in the coming years.

Following the luncheon, we decided to attend one of the forums titled: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Millennials (STEAM), a unique modification from the usual STEM program, which included a panel with moderator Karla Leal of Telemundo Chicago and panelists Stephanie Serrano of Nestle USA, Elio Morillo of MI Bicentennial Archive CubeSat Mission at the University of Michigan, and Salvador Mendoza of NBCUniversal.

All three panelists had very interesting points, which while many of the comments were related to the Engineering fields, they still applied to everyone regardless of their major or background. Serrano put into perspective what it was like being Latina and a woman in the engineering field and how she overcame it.

“In life you’re going to have challenges. You just have to find a way to put up with it. Never give up. You’re going to have a lot of supporters, but you’re also going to have people bring you down. Keep your guard up.”

Morillo chimed in during the panel to speak about diversity within the engineering field and what a young Latinx engineer may experience.

“It’s not uncommon for you to be the only Hispanic person. We have a responsibility to bring those communities up with us.”

Once again, I heard the message that had been drilled into our heads throughout the entire day: unity.

Salvador Mendoza, the Vice President of NBCUniversal’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion, hit me the hardest with what he spoke about. Mendoza focused on the variety of opportunities that NBCUniversal had for those interested in STEAM professions, while also touching on what companies like his look for when they’re hiring.

“We’re a media, entertainment, and technology company. When we’re looking for talent, we’re looking for attitude. What are you doing to be successful? We’re always looking for that attitude you have about succeeding and doing well. There are going to be challenges, but 99% of the time you’ll figure out how to get around them.”

Mendoza had to overcome a language barrier when he first arrived in the U.S. from his home country of Honduras, but he didn’t let that stop him. With time he climbed the ranks to the position where he is now. Before, he would tell people to call him Sal or pronounce his name without his accent, but over time he learned that the accent was a part of who he was, and no one was going to change that.

“At some point and time you have to assert yourself in the way that you speak. Be sure of yourself, regardless of the accent.”

The first day of USHLI’s National Conference left me exhausted, but eager for more. Core values never lose, and the values I witnessed today will live on next to the values my parents provided me. Together.

You can follow me on Twitter (@Kperez85) for more on SHN’s experience at USHLI 2017. You can also follow the hashtag #SHNatUSHLI for updates from the Scripps Hispanic Network executive board.