Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by commemorating the stories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. As Latinas continue to make historic workforce, educational and political gains within the U.S. and across the globe, commemorating the blood, sweat, and tears de nuestras hermanas (of our sisters) who have ventured into unchartered territory is a privilege and a duty that all Latinas can embrace this month and every month of the year. Get to know three Latinas that have defied social, cultural, and gender stereotypes throughout many generations and have become pioneers in their respective fields:
Ellen Ochoa - First Latina Astronaut in Space
Born in Los Angeles, California, Ellen Ochoa immersed herself in the sciences, graduating from San Diego State University with a bachelor's in physics and later received her master of science and doctorate degrees at Stanford University. She was selected by NASA in 1990 and in 1991 became the world's first Hispanic female astronaut. Ochoa completed a total of four space missions during her career at NASA and would make history once again when she became the first Latina director of the agency's Johnson Space Center in 2013.
Sonia Sotomayor - First Latina U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Born in the Bronx, New York, Sonia Sotomayor became a U.S. District Court Judge in 1992 and was elevated to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998. In 2009, she was confirmed as the first Latina Supreme Court justice in U.S. history. Having graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, Sotomayor later entered the Ivy League school, Princeton University.
Maria Elena Salinas - First Latina Journalist to Win a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award
Born in Los Angeles, California, Maria Elena Salinas is distinguished for being the longest-running female TV news anchor in the U.S. and the first Latina to earn a Lifetime Achievement Emmy. Having attended East Los Angeles Community College then later graduating from University of California Los Angeles, Salinas is known as the "Voice of Hispanic America” and has proudly proclaimed, ”As long as I have a voice, I will always use it to speak on their behalf.”
Blazing trails and being the first in their class are tremendous accomplishments and these Latinas have proven that they have risen to the challenge. Whether household names or not, all Latinas have the power to become inspirational female leaders by first surpassing the obstacles that threaten to slow their progress down.
As Latinx, perseverance is in our blood. And while Latinas are typically not ones to shy away from a challenge, student loan debt is a challenge that has proven virtually insurmountable. For Latinx families who are already disadvantaged by generational pay and wealth disparities, carrying the disproportionate burden of student debt can leave communities like ours more likely to experience negative financial events after graduation such as loan default, higher interest rate payments, and higher graduate school debt balances. With rising tuition costs outpacing inflation and wage growth, debt-financing higher education will undoubtedly equate to needing to hustle harder and longer just to stay afloat. With student loan debt in 2020 at nearly $1.6 trillion, there has never been a more critical time for Latinas to understand all of our options both in choosing student loans and choosing how to repay them.
Luckily, my friends at Chipper have made it easier than ever to empower ourselves as borrowers. Their founder, Tony Aguilar is also Latinx. Having been a first generation graduate who grew up in a small West-Texas town, Tony had to finance most of his college education. He graduated with over $100k in student loan debt, but knew he was not alone in this struggle. Like us Latinas, he decided to do something about it!
Chipper is dedicated to getting Latinx and POC on the path toward being debt-free of student loans. By helping these specific groups of borrowers discover and understand the plans and programs they qualify for, helping them enroll, and stay on track, they are ensuring that their members are doing everything they’re supposed to be doing to qualify for income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs. The best part, it’s completely free to discover your options! Get started by clicking the image below or click here.
Stay fabulous, fierce, and financially-savvy bellas (beauties)!