Episode 42: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
DHG is a proud supporter of ALPFA, which is the Association of Latino Professionals for America, and the longest standing Latino organization with more than 81,000 members today. Several of our DHG team members recently attended the ALPFA national convention in Las Vegas, including Jose Torres, a tax associate in our Los Angeles office. In this podcast, Jose talks about his experience at the convention and why he thinks it is important for us to build awareness around Hispanic Heritage Month.
Episode 42 Transcript:
AGH: Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of our DHG Podcast Series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I love this venue because we get to hear about the things that matter the most; flexibility, careers and of course, our DHG people. As part of our DHG Impact team’s effort and our Inclusion and Diversity Council, we are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. Each year, we across America observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering why in the world is it from a 15th to 15th rather than just a full month like some of the other recognition months? So the day of September 15th is significant because it is the anniversary of the Independence for Latin American Countries, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Of course I looked this up on Google because I did not know the answer to this. In addition to that fact, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16th and September 18th. So also, Columbus Day or Dia Dela Rosa, which is October 12th falls within this 30 day period. So all of that is a little history lesson on why it is celebrated September 15th to October 15th.
So DHG is a proud supporter of ALPFA, which is the Association of Latino Professionals for America, and several of our team members recently attended their national convention in Las Vegas. What I learned was that ALPFA is the longest standing Latino organization and it has over 81,000 members today. So I invited one of our team members who attended, Jose Torres, who’s a tax associate in our Los Angeles office. I invited him to join us and share his perspective from attending the conference.
JT: Hello everyone.
AGH: So Jose, tell me a little bit of what you do for DHG?
JT: So as you mentioned, I am actually a tax associate in the Dealership Group here in the California office. I’ve been with DHG for nine months now.
AGH: Excellent, we’re glad to have you on our team. You and I had an opportunity to catch up and get to know each other a little bit before we began recording the podcast and you mentioned that you were a first generation college graduate and we’re proud to have you on our team as I am sure your family is as well. Can you share a little more with this about your success and your background and what led you to be the first generation college graduate?
JT: Yes, absolutely. Well me being one of five children, I pretty much didn’t have so much of a foundation, or I guess you can say the background of education in regards to parents. They only went to school up until 4th grade. My mother went up until I believe if I am not mistaken maybe sixth grade. So they didn’t really have too much of a knowledge in regards to education. So they always wanted the best for me.
I mean both of my parents have definitely been role models in my life and have led me to where I am today. Even though they had no education background, they always wanted the best for not only myself, but my siblings as well and I believe that has definitely contributed to me becoming and molding me and trying their best to guide me in the best direction that they possibly can. My father being one of 10 children, he migrated out here to California when he was 15 years old to try to give my brothers and sisters a better life.
And that is definitely something that I looked up to because to this day, I continue to work hard and every time I feel like I’m giving up, I always think of my father of what he had to do and what he went through and I feel like because of that, I want to be that guy to be able to help my siblings as well. Be able to become better each time and be able to guide them in the right direction in regards to their education and hopefully I can be that role model for them to go where they want to go, and be who they want to be in their future.
AGH: Wow. Jose, that is really inspiring. I mean, we are really proud to have someone like you on our team and I definitely know your parents are proud of the work that you’ve done. So ALPFA, you mentioned to me that you really had a great time and learned a lot at the ALPFA convention. Was this the first time you attended?
JT: No, actually this was the second time attending the ALPFA convention. I attended ALPFA back in 2014 when I was a student at Cal Poly Pomona, I attended as a student. Going to my first convention I didn’t know what to expect. I was definitely nervous and I guess you can say scared. Scared of seeing so many professionals, so many great empowering Latinos. It was definitely a culture shock I guess you can put it as. But it was definitely an experience that I enjoyed and I loved and this year, going as a professional I felt really proud to be able to go not only as a member but absolutely being able to go to and represent DHG.
So being there and going as a professional I was able to try to help out those individuals that were kind of stuck in the same situation as I was, kind of scared, kind of stuck in that little ball of your comfort zone not knowing what to do, what to expect. I feel like the ALPFA convention, from the time I went as a student to the time I went as a professional, has definitely impacted my career and has led me to be a leader within my office and because of that, I am really grateful for being part of ALPFA.
AGH: Super. So was there a speaker that really stood out to you?
JT: Definitely yes. One of the speakers that stood out to me would be Yvonne Garcia. She’s a senior Vice-President of State Street. She gave a story talking about work-life balance. Many of us working in corporate America don’t really have too much of what is considered work-life balance and that is something that a lot of us just need to work on as a firm in corporate America.
She shared a story saying how she tried to find the balance between her children and her family and knowing that she was present at all times, even when she wasn’t physically there. Her story pretty much outlines what her mother used to do when she was growing up. How her mother used to kiss her and her siblings on the forehead to pretty much remember or to let them know that she was there with them even though she wasn’t physically there.
That is something that she continued on and did for her children herself that she would kiss them on the forehead every morning before she left to work to let them know that even though she wasn’t there physically, she was there with them to guide them and help them in whatever they needed and that is definitely something that stood out to me because that is one of the struggles that we face nowadays trying to find the work-life balance- trying to be present in all of your family events as much as you possibly can as well as juggling and trying to be as good as you possibly can at work and being that leader that you are.
AGH: That’s really cool. What a great story, and as a mom, I think that’s so sweet. So I am going to move over to Hispanic Heritage month, which is what we are celebrating. Why do you think that it’s important that companies like DHG build awareness and recognize celebration months like this?
JT: I definitely think celebrating any type of heritage month is really important. I am going to speak for Hispanic Heritage Month, as you mentioned. I believe it is really important to celebrate this month because it gives us the opportunity to recognize all the contributions we Hispanic Americans have contributed to the nation and the role that we have played in our country’s history.
Being able to work in a firm like DHG that promotes such heritage months leads to a higher self-esteem for one, and makes one feel honored to be part of such a great firm that promotes diversity. I feel more than anything proud of all the contributions we have made in the past and continue to make as time progresses.
AGH: Oh that is terrific. What a great way to look at this. So earlier you mentioned being a role model and being a role model for others in the industry and for your siblings, so what would be one key piece of advice that you would offer to a college student or someone aspiring to be a professional?
JT: What I can pretty much say is, just be yourself. Be yourself. I can’t stress it enough how many individuals try to be someone else just to try to get the ideal job. I have to say, just be yourself, be who you are, be the person you are and the person you become based off your obstacles you faced going through school or growing up, just be yourself.
AGH: That’s terrific. Well, we are very lucky to have you on our team. Thank you for joining us today.
JT: No, thank you. It was great.
AGH: And thank you all for listening to Life at DHG, our premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you’ll tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our Life Beyond Numbers.
Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.