Helping Immigrant Students Achieve Their Dreams

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Here is blog post I wrote about TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund aimed at providing educational opportunities to immigrant students.

Click here to read the article featured in the Social Work Helper.

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Local Change Maker: One to Watch

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When I found out my friend Lupi Grady was running for the District 2 seat of the Prince George’s County Board of Education I was hopeful for the county’s educational system future. Over the last few years, I have seen Lupi design and implement programs geared towards helping youth achieve their goals. She is one of those leaders who rolls up her sleeves and is able to anticipate issues before they become problems, troubleshoots and fights for the inequities she sees. So I am hopeful that with someone like Lupi on the school board many of the challenges minority youth students and students in general face will be addressed. Her vision is to strengthen Prince George’s County schools which in turn will strengthen communities. She intends to do this by engaging parents and community members, among other strategies.

As a member of Friends for Lupi, I am supporting Lupi through communications, my other love aside from social work :).

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Here are some of the latest media hits highlighting her platform (click on each header to read article).

Prince George’s Sentinel

El Tiempo Latino

Univision 

You can learn more about her campaign at www.lupigrady.com. Follow her on Twitter at Twitter.com/lupigrady and Like campaign on Facebook at Facebook.com/friendsforlupi.

ps Join us at our next event: Jazz Night with Friends for Lupi on October 4 from 7 to 9 pm at Bus Boys and Poets, Hyattsville. To get more details visit www.tinyurl.com/jazzlupigrady.

I am back!

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I took a little break from writing on this blog…… but I am back!

During the last two years, I had been buried behind stacks of books as I completed my Master’s of Social Work at the Catholic University of America. I had been wanting to go back to school for quite some time. I debated what program to pursue and at one point I put this dream on hold. I am glad I did because one day I unexpectedly  stumbled upon what would become my new profession as social worker. That is a much longer story to tell but for now I leave you with this quote that sums up how I see my transition to social work: every experience, every interaction, every “mistake” is part of the journey we are supposed to go through, don’t fight it because it will lead you to your destination.

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What Does Saying No Means?

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Ok, here is a quick one. A few years ago while working at a national leadership nonprofit, I asked a friend to participate in an initiative I thought was going to be life changing for her. And she said NO. No? I asked. She repeated, thanks but NO. I couldn’t understand why she would turn down an opportunity that will give her and her business a lot of exposure, an opportunity that will bring her a little bit of extra crash, and an opportunity that in my eyes didn’t come around that often.But then she explained the why not.  She said: Cheryl I am already very committed and I want to do the best job I can at what I committed to do already. And I don’t want to let you and your organization down.

Saying “no” takes a lot of courage.

Sometimes we get excited for what seems shiny and we simply want to help so saying no could be interpreted as not wanting to help.  I still remember that day and thinking I have so much respect for my friend because saying no requires more discipline, strength and guts than immediately jumping and saying yes without analyzing the situation.

I am guilty of doing this but I have put myself on a path to learning to say no when I can’t do something or when I am may be stretching myself too thin. Sometimes I still mess up and say YES to everything but I am aware that if I want to do my best and give myself the best of me, I have to set boundaries. 

So what I have gathered is that saying is NO is not necessarily negative, saying NO sometimes means saying YES to yourself and other things.

 

Peace of Mind

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Lately, as of the last two years or so, I have been on a mission to keep centered, learn from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow. And at the core of it is keeping peace of mind and working towards finding more balance. Yes, who am I kidding :).

I admit it. As a media and PR consultant, it is really accelerating to be in the middle of the action and take on exciting projects and proposals that are thrown my way that include all of the elements I love. But it is also important to keep it real and keep in mind what is feasible to do.

As much as it could be fun to take on the most innovatie initiative, accept to be on an organization’s board, it could also be overwhelming, exhausting, stressful and all of these can affect your personal and professional lives.

When I find myself in situations like these, I ask myself: What is more important? My personal life, family, friends, well being and balance? Advancing my professional career? Not jeopardizing relationships?

The answer always seems to be the same: peace of mind. For me, that is what works! One way to keeping pece of mind is saying NO. It is hard to do at times but very necessary.

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When I said no to a project that would take a lot of time last year, the possibility to work with these amazing youth leaders from the DC metro area opened up.

I encourage you to try it not just in your professional lives but in your personal lives. Say no every now and again to gain the freedom you may be looking for. Say no to unnecessary fights that will eat away your energy. Say no to unnecessary stress, drama and situations that will make you turn away from being the best you can be.

Saying no doesn’t close doors, it opens a world of possibilities.

Alabama’s HB 56 Forces Women to Make an Impossible Choice

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HB 56 has made life in Alabama hard for all immigrants, especially for women. Women from across Alabama spoke out at a community and media roundtable, which I helped promote, organized by New America Media.

Fourteen-year-old Jocelyn wants to be the first person in her family to graduate. But now she may have to do it without the one person who most wanted to be there: her mom.

When Alabama enacted the nation’s toughest immigration law, HB 56, her mother was faced with an impossible decision: stay and live in fear; or flee back to Mexico, denying her daughter the education that she had sacrificed so much to give her.

Six months ago, Jocelyn’s mom decided to return to Mexico with her stepdad and three-year-old sister, leaving Jocelyn to stay in Alabama with an uncle.

“I don’t have her to wake me up every morning and tell me to do my best in school,” said the eighth grader, who said her mom had brought her to Alabama when she was six years old “for a better education and a better life.”

Jocelyn spoke to 17 women leaders from across the country this week, who traveled to Birmingham, Ala., as part of We Belong Together’s National Women’s Human Rights Delegation.

Read New America Media’s article about the round table here and Birmingham News story here 

Gratitude: I Appreciate My Life as it Happens

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This week was eventful to say the least but very fulfilling.

As a consultant, I have the opportunity to work on different projects. Luckily, all the projects I work on now align with my passions: women empowerment, youth, immigration and media.

This is not a coincidence, I made sure this was the case. And you can too. We are in charge and in control of what we want our lives to be like. No more complaining, if we are not happy with our current situations, lets find a way to make what we envision possible.

One person who makes sure that is the case for me is my #1 mentor: my mother. She reminds me each day that she worked hard to pave the way for my siblings and I so all of our dreams can become reality. And she is right!

In my last post I shared an article featuring 10 ways to increase our happiness and I shared the Do What you Love for a Living lesson. Today, I am sharing another essential lesson: Gratitude: I Appreciate My Life as it Happens.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that are put before me, particularly when it involves making the difference in the lives of young people, moving important issues to our community forward, and empowering others.

Here are the highlights of my week that makes me appreciate life so much more!

  • My students from Puentes Youth Leadership program, a media and advocacy leadership training for young people through the Latin American Youth Center/Maryland Multicultural Youth Centers at Langley Park started a voter registration campaign to register new voters. Read more here. This initiative makes me really proud. Following our first voter registration event, one of the youth leaders said: we should do this at every event in the community, let’s do it at my church. And that is what youth leadership is about.
  • As Latism DC Chapter Co-Director, my team members met to plan events for our DC metro area. Stay tuned for amazing initiatives you DONT want to miss, including a blogueras retreat in DC.
  • As Social Media Editor for Latina Lista, I attended the PAC Plus launch event this Thursday and I am excited about this new effort. To learn more, sign up to LatinaLista.com newsletter to read my piece about it.
  • As Ethnic Media Coordinator for New America Media, I helped promote a roundtable discussion about how Alabama’s HB 56 affects immigrant women. Mainstream, ethnic and new media representatives were present on this important dialogue.
  • ETC….what’s next? We will see, but I am sure it will be driven by my passions!

Thanks again  to my virtual friend @2morrowknight for sharing the 10 ways to increase our happiness and reminding me of what’s  important.