"I refuse to be a product of my environment when I can make my environment a product of my actions."
This was the topic sentence to one of my college essays. This rings true to me at 25 as much as it did at 17. As a 1st generation Mexican American raised in poverty by a single mother I had this gut feeling that I had to get out ever since I can remember. After ending up on probation with HPD and facing a few other major setbacks, realized my only shot at it was education. Eventually received that acceptance letter to UT Austin that changed my life and I knew that when I came back to the Northside of Houston Texas it'd be to get others out.
At U.T. Austin I fell in love with the ad industry, but I continued to keep my community in the back of my mind.
Unfortunately the industry doesn't look very much like me, or attempt to represent a diverse cultural inheritance such as myself. As a mass communication vehicle that's being primarily driven by individuals who do not understand diversity; those of us who differ from the status quo, well we have our work cut out for us in order to improve diversity's representation in advertising. Outside of the data and strategy behind media, this cause was one of the reasons why I chose to pursue a career in advertising. I'd love to contribute to the changes in advertising to make this industry a better representation of the people who see our ads.
Whether it's through being a Big Brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC, or creating scholarships for kids in my high school, or setting up my ad agency's Community Service Day, personally hold myself accountable for breaking the cycles of oppression I see in my every day life. As young diverse individuals in the industry believe it's our responsibility to open doors, and at times take sledgehammers to glass ceilings. My goal as an Ad Man is to works towards diverse representation throughout my career, just as my goal outside my career is to serve as a voice for communities who's voices fall on deaf ears.
8 months after started working in the industry in NYC, late Spring 2016, I decided I’d waited long enough. I started drafting an organizational plan and some by-law documents to establish a group which would give back to my community. Stubbornly moved forwarded for a few months attempting to create the foundation of this org, find mentors to lead me along the way, and recruit by myself.
We all make errors, this was one of mine. Realized teamwork and delegation is the only way to reach the end goal, even if that means letting go of certain ideas or details in order to reach that goal. After obtaining a mass list of Sam Houston High School student emails from a major Houston scholarship donor; I reached out to hundreds of alumni from my alma mater hoping someone would share my vision. Luckily for me a few did.
This was the beginning of the Sam Houston High School Alumni Association. It took months, emails, phone call interviews, and a lot of Facebook to finally have a full Board of Directors. Although a few came and went; I’m extremely grateful for each BOD team member because without them this would continue to be a dream; they’re the ones that bring this to life. Since January 2017 until now we’ve worked as a team to register as a 501c3, hold community meetings for our paid alumni members, setup a bank account, create a logo, setup a members’ only discussion platform, hold multiple community service events as well as socials etc.
Our community is under-served in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons, however we have in our power a way to fill certain voids that will allow our community to be a community. The end goal of all these actions is to pool our alumni’s resources to build a community around our high school which can provide scholarships to students, have an alumni mentorship program, and overall ensure we can all prosper.
Unfortunately, our high school spent over two decades as the lowest performing high school in the state of Texas and for the majority of the last two decades, our incarceration rates have been higher than our graduation rates. This is not a sob story; this is a story which has been and continues to be perpetuated across cities all over America, however grassroots organizations such as ours are formed in order to enable following generations to reshape our story. My freshman class began with over 1100 and less than 500 graduated four years later.
Because of these kinds of statistics and the stigma they’ve placed on our school; we decided to take a stand to change this by giving students an opportunity to see a different path, and our alumni an opportunity to provide that path through our community.
We’re currently raising funds to provide two student scholarships as well as an alumni scholarship this upcoming May to ensure our kids prosper through education. From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate any donations you can send to help us in this endeavor.
"Now let me suggest first that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective"- Martin Luther King