Cal State Fullerton alum: Latino Communications Institute a springboard to success


I recently had the opportunity to return to Cal State Fullerton to attend the celebration for the launch of the Latino Communications Institute. Walking through the doors of my alma mater, I realized just how far I had come since graduating and moving across the country to kick off my career as a communications specialist. It was exciting to be home and even more exciting to share just how important the LCI, then known as the Latino Communications Initiative, was in my own career development.

As a first-generation Latina college student, I was unaware of the skills and knowledge that I would need to attain while in school to succeed professionally: the value and importance of networking, mentorship, hands-on experience, how to negotiate salary and benefits, office and workplace etiquette, and interviewing best practices. LCI, a workforce-preparedness program that supports students and graduates to be career-ready, filled that gap for me.

The most rewarding learning opportunity I had with LCI was serving as a producer of the “Latino Communications Show,” where I managed, edited and presented the show. My favorite edition I worked on was with Miguel Gonzalez, CEO and president of Northgate González Markets. For this program, I was able to recruit the guest, plus draft and edit the questions for the guest with student reporters. Both LCI and Northgate González Markets were pleased with the end product. As producer, I was able to translate what I had learned in the classroom into the studio — an experience I continue to draw upon and remember fondly.

Inez Gonzalez, LCI’s founding director, has long been a big supporter of mine. After my time with LCI, she encouraged me to take the leap to move to Washington, D.C., and take a job with Blue Engine Message & Media, a strategic communications firm. Thanks to her support, I knew this was an opportunity I should take and that I could rise to the challenge.

Being in D.C. has opened the door to many professional development opportunities. At Blue Engine, I have had the opportunity to work on issues that I am passionate about. I’ve also been able to continue learning and applying new skills to help our clients. For example, I’ve helped develop social media content creation programs for our clients, and track both the impact and reach of that work within our desired audiences.

The most exciting project at Blue Engine has been working on a campaign called “Our Dream.” The Our Dream coalition was formed to establish permanent protection for the undocumented community in the United States, including Dreamers. Recognizing the coalition’s need for additional communications support, I brought the opportunity to Blue Engine. The firm’s leadership welcomed the chance to have an impact on such an important issue. The leaders supported my work on it and assigned other members of the team to the project.

To be able to leverage my skills as a communications professional and those I learned at LCI in an effort that is not only led by, but directly impacts communities of color, is incredibly meaningful to me. I’m proud to do my part — providing strategic communications advice, leading the communications team, drafting and editing press materials and managing media inquiries. I’ve been able to help develop relevant and culturally approachable messages for Our Dream, and see those messages on display in VICE News, MSNBC and NowThis News.

Working on such an urgent effort presents challenges every day, but also many rewards. Some of the most exciting moments for me on the “Our Dream” campaign have been earning press coverage for our efforts and getting the coalition’s story — and that of so many Dreamers — to a wider audience.

My experiences with Blue Engine and the “Our Dream” campaign remind me of the influence LCI has had on my career. They are real-world reminders of how programs like LCI can make such a big difference for people like me. I am excited to continue to develop my skills and knowledge as a communications professional through my work for Blue Engine and Our Dream.

This piece was originally published in the Orange County Register.