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His­pan­ic Her­itage Month Spot­light: Jen­nifer Moreno

Jennifer Moreno

My name is Jen­nifer Moreno and I’m the Deputy Direc­tor of the Com­pre­hen­sive Tran­si­tion Pro­gram here at KYC. I’m also proud­ly Puer­to Rican with Sephardic roots (His­pan­ic Jew­ish peo­ple). My father was born and raised on the island of Puer­to Rico; I was born in Chicago. 

His­pan­ic Her­itage Month cel­e­brates and hon­ors the con­tri­bu­tions and influ­ences that Lat­inx peo­ple have made to Esta­dos Unidos de Amer­i­ca (Unit­ed States of America). 

I’m ful­filled to be part of a rich cul­ture of food, pas­sion for life, dance, and resilien­cy. The truth is, Lat­inx peo­ple have dif­fer­ent cul­tures, iden­ti­ties, and expe­ri­ences; we are cer­tain­ly all unique. I will share a lit­tle of my experience. 

I grew up in Chica­go, and watched many of my peo­ple go through com­plex life chal­lenges and in some cas­es, tragedy. 

Many of my ami­gos y famil­ia (friends and fam­i­ly) have since passed on. I watched my com­mu­ni­ty in Hum­boldt Park fight against pover­ty, sub­stances, vio­lence, and stereo­types. I’ve also seen many in my comu­nidad (com­mu­ni­ty) over­come and con­quer the impos­si­ble. The suc­cess­es of my peo­ple has been an amaz­ing thing to wit­ness. To watch cole­gas y ami­gos (col­leagues and friends) work togeth­er to fight stereo­types and make an influ­ence in the lives of many peo­ple and them­selves has been price­less. It is a torch that I am oblig­at­ed to carry.

In my expe­ri­ence at Ken­neth Young Cen­ter, I have been shown much respeto (respect) for my cul­ture and iden­ti­ty. Yes, we have dif­fer­ences, but we all bleed red. 

His­pan­ic Her­itage Month is about hon­or­ing our col­lec­tive cul­tures and cel­e­brat­ing who we are as a peo­ple, while striv­ing for uni­ty. I’d glad­ly share a plate of mofon­go and arroz con gan­d­ules with any­one at KYC

Whether your roots are Mex­i­can, Ecuado­ri­an, Brazil­ian, or Guatemalan or any of the 33 proud Latin Amer­i­can and Caribbean coun­tries, you are seen and you are cel­e­brat­ed dur­ing this spe­cial month. 

As I reflect on this month of cel­e­bra­tion and pride, I think of the words by Sonia Sotomey­er, The Lati­na in me is an ember that blazes forever.” 

As a Lat­inx per­son, I have often been thought of as a fierce and pas­sion­ate indi­vid­ual. I used to take offense to these words, but now I let these thoughts guide my work and guide who I am. 

As a peo­ple, we have come so very far, but there is still work to be done! We must con­tin­ue to build com­mu­ni­ty, edu­cate oth­ers, help oth­ers, and strive for unidad (uni­ty).

I leave you with one mes­sage today: Be you, always be fierce­ly and unique­ly you. 

Que ten­gas un buen día! (Have a good day!)


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