Iam a first generation Mexican American. My par- ents came to the U.S. in the 50s, when technology (or lack thereof) kept them from staying in close
contact with their loved ones back home. Without
internet, cable, cell phones, or Face Time, they had no
choice but to assimilate into their new environment.
However, they managed to hold on to their language,
traditions, and ingrained cultural perspectives that
they, in turn, passed on to their children.
As the youngest of four, by the time I was born,
we spoke mostly English at home and moved from
the city to the white picket-fenced suburbs. Yet, somehow, my siblings and I always felt different. Perhaps it
was the food we ate, the traditions we kept, the music
we listened to, or the relatives that came to visit who
didn’t speak English.
Many children of immigrant parents relate to the
trials and tribulations of the immigrant experience.
We also acknowledge the great sacrifices our parents
made for us and have a sense of obligation to make
it all worth it. We also know the pressure that comes
from that dynamic. We are often the first to gradu-
ate high school, go to college, and pursue professional
careers. Trailblazing has its ups, but it’s sometimes
difficult to get the support, understanding or advice
from our own family not because they don’t want to,
but because they never did what their children aspire
It wasn’t until many years after college and well
into my career that I saw how my diverse background
proved to be one of my greatest assets as a business
leader. As I’ve experienced them, these advantages
1) Embrace your uniqueness: Know what makes
you different and learn to love it. As I started my
career in financial services, I found a natural market
with Latinos. No one else was talking to them about
finances. Over time, that parlayed into a marketing
career and today I’m President of NAHREP (National
Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals)
Consulting Services, a marketing consulting agency
specializing in the Latino housing market. I literally
made a career from my pride, passion, and knowledge
of the Latino market.
By L Maria Zywiciel