Strength in Culture and Identity

 Guest Speaker Aracely Godinez leads a session titled “Keeping Your Culture in Corporate America”
Guest Speaker Aracely Godinez leads a session titled “Keeping Your Culture in Corporate America” (photo credit Khatsini Simani)

Instantaneously the room broke out in laughter and smiles, a show of affirmation following a mentee’s spontaneous celebration. Guest speaker Aracely Godinez, a Regional Director of Airline Financial Analysis at Boeing who spoke about the influence of language, culture and tradition in their life and the advantages of being bicultural, had just shared their experience eating injera for the first time in East Africa. Like the student who celebrated, many of us could relate to being proud of where we’re from; in this moment, a safe space had been created, a space where expressing pride for one’s heritage was welcome and celebrated.

 Mentor Yesenia Velasquez leads a session titled “Finding Self in a Globalized World”
Mentor Yesenia Velasquez leads a session titled “Finding Self in a Globalized World” (Photo credit Alvin Benavides)

The ambiance of affirmation and celebration continued throughout the day, budding during the professional session and growing with each speaker. In a lecture titled “Finding Self in a Globalized World,” mentor Yesenia Velasquez invited students to reflect on their own identities and explore how we navigate complex cultures daily. Drawing connections between social, economic, and political forces, and highlighting feminist theories, Yesenia introduced the concept of intersectionality, and shone a light on structural inequities that are often overlooked when discussing business.

Keynote speaker Yomara Gomez-Naiden
Keynote speaker Yomara Gomez-Naiden (photo credit Khatsini Simani)

Keynote speaker Yomara Gomez-Naiden advanced the baton with a lecture embodying the spirit of mentorship. Currently the Head of Quality at Acerta Pharma, Ms. Gomez-Naiden took us on a journey from her college years to the present, and her actualization of self-confidence through mentorship. Along the way, she shared several gems of wisdom and encouragement while exemplifying the rewards of taking risks, cultivating mentor-mentee relationships, and working persistently towards a goal.

Mentee performances

Mentee performances

Mentee performances

Mentee performances

Mentee performances
Mentee performances (multiple) (photo credit Khatsini Simani)

The Annual YEOC Cultural Showcase was the natural highlight of the day and featured several mentees and friends of the YEOC community. Organized by YEOC mentor Uyen Cao and Mentor in Training Natnael Tesfai, the showcase drew families, friends, and YEOC supporters together to support our mentees. The event featured performances ranging from hip hop and K-pop, to original spoken word poetry. It offered a space for mentees to not only speak their mind, but to be their full selves, a message echoed throughout the day by guest speakers, presenters, mentors and MiT’s.

Mentors Abiel and Idowu emcee the YEOC Cultural Showcase
Mentors Abiel and Idowu emcee the YEOC Cultural Showcase (photo credit: Mike Guevarra)

Thank you to our guest speakers, workshop presenters and performers for helping make this YEOC session a day to remember!

YEOC applications are now open. Apply to YEOC here for the 2018-19 school year by May 31st 2018.