Five Latina trailblazers from the D.C. community shared their stories and inspirations with a packed audience of more than 400 adult immigrant students at the Carlos Rosario School. This panel entitled Today’s Leaders Shaping Tomorrow’s was held in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, October 1st.
Panelists included Maria Gomez, Founder of Mary’s Center; Sonia Gutierrez, President Emeritus and Founder of Carlos Rosario School; Tatiana Torres, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel; and Angela Franco, President & CEO of Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The panel was moderated by Patricia Sosa, Director for Latin American Programs for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Students from career training, GED, English language, and citizenship classes listened intently, some through interpretation devices offered in five different languages, to the messages of these leaders.
Maria Gomez shared about the struggles she faced when coming to the U.S as a 13 year old girl, the passion she felt for health, and the impact it has on her community. Reflecting on her 40 years as a leader in education, Sonia Gutierrez talked about her determination in building, growing and rebuilding the Carlos Rosario School. As a Colombian who has faced many challenges immigrating to the U.S., Tatiana confided that the person who most pushed her to success was the one who said she couldn’t do it. And Angela, looking out at a sea of student hands raised to express interest in open businesses, talked about the importance of Latino business leaders in the District.
Sosa summed up the panelists’ points highlighting life-long learning, passion, determination and finding the right role models.
Francisco Galdamez Hernandez an ESL 4 Health student from El Salvador said, “This was an important event where we could learn from Latinas who have had many successes. They shared with us what we can do to reach what we want for the future.”