GateWay is hosting our second annual National HSI Week as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. In this article, Cesar Martinez shares his thoughts on HSI Week and Hispanic Heritage Month.
1) What does Hispanic Heritage Month or National HSI Week mean to you?
Hispanic heritage month is a time for all Hispanic people to truly acknowledge the contributions and influence we have had on culture, in the United States. It is a time of the year where we can express our culture and heritage.
2) How do you feel like you impact the Hispanic Community with the work you are doing?
I feel like the work that I am doing as an EXCEL Peer Mentor is very empowering towards my people and my culture. I feel this way because I am able to guide people through the difficulties of the college experience. My work reflects well upon myself because it has helped me realize how much of a difference I can make by communicating, listening, and offering advice as well as motivation to my students.
3) How has your Hispanic heritage or culture shaped your life and who you are?
Being Mexican American is something I am most proud of. As I have grown, I have learned to appreciate my background and embrace the strong, powerful, and proud culture of my people.
4) What is the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
The biggest challenge I have had to overcome was when I was in high school I moved away from my parents to live with my uncle to pursue my baseball and academic dreams. This was a hard time for me because I had to figure out how to live without my parents and also navigating the challenges of high school. I was able to overcome this situation because of my family being so supportive even though they were miles away.
5) What is something you feel people should be more aware of?
I want people to be more aware of the programs GateWay has to offer. There is so much you can do to get involved around campus. The EXCEL program is just one program at Gateway Community College that can really help students find support and a friend who can help guide them through their college journey.
6) What advice would you give to Hispanic students currently enrolled in the same program that you are/were in?
The advice I would give is to keep pushing yourself forward. There are many things and people in life that will keep you from moving forward but you have to find a way to overcome the situation and keep pushing forward. You are your biggest enemy because you know what it takes to keep moving forward. The real question is whether you want to move forward.
7) Anything else you would like to share with us?
The last thing I wanna share is that I am tremendously proud to be Mexican American! I know my blood is made from strong, hard-working, and charismatic genes that will only help me prosper in life and hopefully help others realize the beauty of our culture.