Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 annually. The celebration begins in the middle rather than the start of September because it coincides with national independence days in several Latin American countries: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica celebrate on the 15th, followed by Mexico on the 16th, Chile on the 18th and Belize on the 21st.
Nicole Touma started at Triax Technologies in August as a Marketing Intern. Her diverse background brings a unique perspective to the organization that is greatly valued. We spoke with Nicole to learn more about her professional journey and her Hispanic heritage.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Touma: A reason for celebration. I don’t think that a month is enough time for the recognition of Hispanic achievements – I think that it should be celebrated year-round – but it is an incredible month. It means that those affiliated with my ethnicity are celebrated through the challenges we’ve surpassed and ones that are still to come. It’s a remembrance of what those before us have sacrificed so the generations to follow see that anything is possible. There’s so much to be grateful for, for those who have left their footprint and mark within history, and those who are fighting today to make the difference for tomorrow. It’s beautiful to see many parts of our culture have a widespread impact and appreciation.
How did you get your start in this industry?
Touma: I knew people. I feel like it’s not emphasized enough how important it is to be able to know great people in your life. I wasn’t pushed into any specific job or category presented to me; I was instead given the ability to see firsthand how many different options I had to choose from. I started in this industry because I was recognized for the potential I had, that I had great people skills, applied myself well and have had a strong work ethic since a very young age. A big part of that was the fact that I am bilingual; speaking Spanish and English fluently has been a great asset to my career. I made it known that I wanted to learn all I could wherever I had the chance to. I always thought that life had to be in one direction, and that quickly changed once I graduated college. I’ve met so many great people at Triax and there’s such a sense of unity at the company, I would’ve never thought I would be a part of something this great and it’s a learning experience every day. I not only learn new skills for the company’s benefit, but for my own as well.
What advice would you give to young Latino professionals who are looking to get into the marketing or technology space?
Touma: My greatest advice would be to attack your goals head on and use the resources and network at your disposal to achieve those goals. The most important thing is to speak up – don’t be afraid to ask for help, don’t be afraid to ask questions, learn any and everything possible that you want to take on. Something I experienced was not having enough guts to speak up in certain situations. There are so many resources you can use. If you have a great network, reach out to it. If you must go to the library to have access to the best tools, then go to the library. If you have an alternative education, then start where you can and show your capabilities and your hard work will pave the way for where you want and need to be. Hard work and perseverance will be recognized.
Who would you say was your greatest influence for your career?
Touma: My family. I know that’s a very generic answer, but it goes hand in hand with what I was saying about having resources. I’m Ecuadorian and Palestinian but I was born in the US. I’m fortunate to have visited Ecuador several times and have learned so much about my family history. Both of my parents have sacrificed so much for my siblings and I, my dad even ended up learning his English by watching Terminator and Jackie Chan movies. It’s astonishing to see how many sacrifices were made within each part of our family tree and the struggles my parents endured to give what they could to better our lives. My parent’s both migrated to Ecuador around the same time – leaving their family and friends behind – some of the most important people in their lives that they unfortunately never got to see again. It gives me a greater sense of appreciation for all that I have.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today and how can understanding history help us to overcome them?
Touma: Perceptions are not going to change overnight and there is still so much work to be done. It is important that we highlight the achievements of the Hispanic community and work to ensure all ethnicities are represented when we talk about overall historical impact. Understanding the history of how we’ve gotten here and that evolution is a huge step in the right direction. It is important to practice compassion and kindness – to evaluate a person by their character and not their outward appearance and continue to help break down the dividers in our society.
Learn more about National Hispanic American Heritage Month here: https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/