LUCA founder Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, how the pandemic has impacted Latino college enrollment

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo is the founder of Latino U College Access (LUCA), a social impact nonprofit organization that helps Latino families with access to college. Born in Puerto Rico, Shirley is a first-generation college graduate herself, making the issue of college access for Latino students very close to her heart. 

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo

Shirley Acevedo Buontempo, founder, Latino U College Access (Photo Courtesy)

Through LUCA, Shirley helps to achieve educational equity and opportunity for Latino youth and empowers low-income first-generation Latino students on their journeys to and through college so that they can fulfill their potential.

In the fouth installment of the National Leaders for Latinx Advancement Series, Latinas in Business President and CEO, Susana G Baumann, spoke to Shirley to discuss initiatives for the advancement of Latino students seeking higher education. 

How the pandemic has disproportionately affected Latino college enrollment

The pandemic has created additional hurdles for Latino students, whose families and communities have been disproportionately impacted. For many Latino students, their parents were the frontline workers, restaurant workers, or employees who lost their jobs. As a result, many students that were thinking or planning to go to college have had to make a change in their plans. 

According to LUCA, Latino enrollment in college and applications for financial aid has decreased in the last two years, dropping 20% in the fall of 2020 and about 6%, in the spring of 2021. Financial aid applications have gone down by 10%  and Latino youth are not going to college at the same rates that they were prior to the pandemic. These setbacks are motivating LUCA to continue its efforts in helping Latino students advance in their pursuits for higher education. 

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83886323762?pwd=dTNKQW1yVy94T0gxMFJNRkZzVThjZz09

 

LUCA initiative programs to guide first-generation students through college

To help students and their families through the challenging process of college applications and beyond, LUCA’s three pillars of programs create a long-term path where students are supported for six years with access to resources and advocates as they navigate their journey through college. 

“When you’re first-gen, you have every desire and ambition to pursue your college education, but oftentimes you’re going through the process alone. Your families came to this country seeking an opportunity for themselves and for you, and as a first-gen student, you know that education is the path forward, especially here in America. However, when you’re first-gen, you don’t have the information, the resources, or the experience to understand and navigate this complex process of admissions and financial aid. And even once you get into college, you’re often feeling like you’re alone in that process. That’s why we stay with the students for this long period of time.”  

LUCA’s Community Information Sessions is one of its programs that help families understand and navigate the college application process. These hour-long presentations are conducted completely in Spanish and are culturally relevant, covering important topics such as Pathways to College, Applying to College, and Paying for College, followed by Q&A time so that families can get as much information as possible. 

“Since I launched the organization nine years ago, over 6000 parents and students have come to these presentations,” said Shirley. “When you welcome the Latino community in their language, and they know that this information was designed to be relevant to them, our families are thirsty for this and want this information.” 


The second pillar program LUCA offers is the Latino U Scholar program. This program provides intensive, one-on-one mentoring to students from the end of junior year through senior year of high school. To participate in this program, qualifying students are nominated by their guidance counselor to become a scholar in their junior year. Nominated students must demonstrate high academic potential with a 3.5 GPA or higher, be a low-income student, and demonstrate that they are the first in their family to go to college in the US. 

“We do have a lot of families whose parents maybe were college graduates in their native country, be it in South America or in the Caribbean, but because they cannot transfer those degrees here to the US they’re working as taxi drivers or housekeepers. So their children are still considered first-generation. The scholar’s program gives students one-on-one support in every step of the process,” said Shirley. 

You might be interested: So-called ‘good’ suburban schools often require trade-offs for Latino students

Finally, the third program LUCA offers is the First Gen Forward program, a success and career readiness program that supports students in the transition to college, adapting to college, and helping students remain in school so they graduate on time. The program provides mentorship and resources for first-generation students as they move through their four years of college. The program also helps students prepare for their future careers by providing resume writing workshops, interview prep, and matching students with internship opportunities. 

LUCA’s methods have proved to be successful. By continuing to support Latino students long-term, students have had higher rates of success and 99% of LUCA students remain on track to graduate. That number is significant because nationally, only 46% of students remain in college among the Latino community. 

“When you’re first-gen, getting into college is only the first half of the battle. Staying in college, graduating, and being ready for careers are the next stages. And many times, first-gen students will drop out of college in the first two years, not because of academics, but because of other social or financial issues. And so our goal is to make sure that our kids remain on track,” Shirley concluded. 

Employees are quitting in record numbers to start their own business

You may have heard about the “Great Resignation” in recent months, in which more and more employees are leaving their jobs in a mass exodus, no longer satisfied with their work. The movement has been brought on by a variety of factors according to a survey released last week by Digital.com. 

The survey cited many concerns that have influenced employees in their decisions to leave their jobs including desire for better pay/benefits (44%), focus on health (42%), finding a job they are passionate about (41%), and the desire to work from home indefinitely (37%). Additionally, one-third (32%) of respondents expressed the desire to start their own businesses and be their own boss. 

the great resignation,

The Great Resignation: Why employees are quitting in record numbers. (Map photo created by rawpixel.com on freepik)

Employees are reluctant to give up their “new normal”

COVID-19 pandemic completely changed our way of life and how we work and how work is valued. As we all adapted to the changes, many grew to enjoy the freedom of working from home

The pandemic showed us a different way of life, one where work could still be accomplished without being chained to a desk in a drab cubicle for eight hours a day. The flexibility of remote work is something many are not eager or willing to give up. Workers are prioritizing themselves more since the pandemic began, focusing on both their physical and mental health. As COVID-19 variants continue to spread, some worry about their health with the return to in-person work. Others are putting their mental health first, finding more joy in working from home. For these individuals, returning to the confinement of the office is a deal-breaker. From these concerns and desires, more and more employees have embraced The Great Resignation, finally putting themselves first and prioritizing their needs. 

In a Bloomberg article, one employee shared her story, in which a six-minute meeting drove her to quit her job. Portia Twidt, 33, said that this meeting was the last straw, “I had just had it,” she shared. 

The six-minute in-person meeting was one that could easily have been a remote video call. Instead, Twidt got dressed, left her two children at daycare, and drove to work just for a brief chat. 

In recent months, this scene has become more and more frequent as bosses attempt to return to the pre-pandemic “normal” and reign their workers back into the office. However, many employees are just not willing to go back to the inconvenient ways of years past. Remote work has allowed many to achieve a greater sense of work-life balance, spend more time with their families, and just feel better in general with the option of working from the comfort of their home, a park, or anywhere in the world. The Great Resignation has highlighted just how important these values are to employees who are now opting to quit their jobs rather than endure unsatisfactory conditions. 

remote work, working from home

Many are not willing to give up the comfort and convenience of remote work and their “new normal.” (Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

The Bloomberg article highlighted that a big part of the push to return to the office is due to the generational gap between bosses and employees. “There’s also the notion that some bosses, particularly those of a generation less familiar to remote work, are eager to regain tight control of their minions,” the article states. 

Twidt added, “They feel like we’re not working if they can’t see us. It’s a boomer power-play.”

Gen Z and millennials, being more tech-savvy and adaptable, are no longer interested in the old ways of working. In an article by CNBC, Bankrate senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said, “Gen Z and millennials are the most mobile participants in the workforce for a number of reasons. They aren’t making as much money as their older, more senior counterparts, so they’re more eager to find higher-paid jobs, and they tend to be more technologically savvy, so they’re in a better position to take advantage of remote work opportunities.” 

“I want to be my own boss” 

Not only are younger employees interested in working from home indefinitely and increasing their pay and benefits, many are also turning toward entrepreneurship. 

According to the survey conducted by Digital.com, one-third of respondents revealed they are interested in starting their own business with 62% of those stating they want to “be their own boss.” Additionally, 60% state they are interested in starting their own business to “pursue an idea they are passionate about.” 

The Great Resignation is inspiring more and more people to start their own businesses. Photo by rawpixel.com – on freepik

The pandemic served as the perfect time for many aspiring entrepreneurs to work on making their dreams a reality. The survey found that 60% of aspiring business owners used their free time during the pandemic to educate themselves on starting a business. Others were able to use the stimulus money they received to help fund their ventures. 

Currently, the three main areas in which people are starting businesses is computer and information technology, retail, and personal care services. The key for many, is following their passion and doing something they love. 

industries new businesses

Infographics: Digital.com

Startup consultant and small business expert Dennis Consorte, said on Digital.com, “Many people believe that business ownership means setting your own hours and answering to no one. The truth is that for many business owners, a half-day is twelve hours, every single customer is your boss, and you have to hustle to stay afloat. However, by pursuing a passion, work won’t feel like work, but will instead give you purpose, which is far more valuable than the dollars earned.”

Consorte also highlighted the importance of having an online presence as a new business in 2021. The world has become increasingly more digital in the past year, so even “brick-and-mortar” shops need to consider their online presence as a crucial aspect of their business marketing. 

“New small business owners need to develop some kind of online presence. Social media is a good start, and a website will give you a lot more control over your database and marketing options” Consorte advised. 

You might be interested: Cloffice: The latest work-from-home trend to transform your workspace

It’s unlikely that we will ever return to the pre-pandemic “normal.” The Great Resignation has shown that people are not willing to go back to the old ways. Our new normal is now one that is digital, remote, and independent. Employees have learned to value their time and labor. Others are venturing out on their own to follow their dreams. The pandemic helped put it all into focus and re-prioritize what is important: freedom, health, and financial stability.

7 Tips to decide whether a job internship is for you

If you’re a young professional just starting out in your field or even a seasoned worker making a career change, internships are a great way to gain necessary experience in a specific industry. The job internship experience has become the route to professional work, a first step to the white-collar career. Internships look great on resumes and are an opportunity to learn hands-on about your industry. Seen as a golden opportunity for college grads and young professionals, many do not have the know-how to decide whether the opportunity is a solid one.

Below, we share some key tips to help you decide if a job internship is right for you, and what to look out for when searching for internship opportunities in a new or unfamiliar field.

7 Tips for deciding if a job internship is right for you

  1.  Consider the company size – hiring and retaining employees is a challenge for all types of enterprises. The smaller ones, i.e. start-ups have higher stakes. Small, fast-growing companies tend to have higher turnover of employees and the writing may be on the wall before you start —looking for truth in advertising.
  2.  Certainly acquire the knowledge of the start-up or small to medium size company or any size for that matter. Think and ask: Who are in charge? How long has it been around? How many employees are there? Who are the clients/customers? What position will I assume when brought on-board permanently?
  3.  Don’t be intimidated that the company has an upper-hand in the process. You hold the key of skills they are seeking in an intern and future employee.
  4.  Make certain you have the clear and well-defined scope of the work responsibilities and type of contract you will be signing up to: Paid contractor, unpaid or paid consultant, paid employee, trainee, duration of internship, hierarchy of internal management – who’s the boss. Read the contract in its entirety and seek the advice of someone who is familiar with and can review the contract with you. Don’t assume that the contract work does not violate the work agreements.
  5.  Ask about the projects that will be assigned to you or tasks and the milestone review process. If possible, test the waters before committing to the job. Not all may be what it appears. Ask for a trial period if you have doubts about the company.
  6.  Promises, promises – get it in writing. Would there be future funding for the project you are involved, and for how long? Would you eventually be hired or paid?
  7.  Employers tend to tell you about the expectations they have of you, the high bar they have set because you are a candidate for permanent employee status. But reminding yourself that you also have expectations for personal accomplishment. Success is of utmost importance so why not tell about it.

You might be interested: 10 Interview tips that will get you the job 

Take the internship experience as an opportunity to learn and provide value to the employer, but make it a two-way street. Let it be a road that takes the emotion and uncertainty out of what you really want to do on the destination to personal success and building your dream. After all, someone will hire you to build theirs.

This article was originally published in 2014 and written by Ruben Abramovich. It has been edited and updated for relevancy. 


Ruben2Ruben Abramovich

Ruben has extensive project, program management and client/partner relationship management experience. He has led wireless development teams through the complete life-cycle of product development across design centers. His program management professional service experience includes having successfully managed from the implementation and launch of IT infrastructure projects to mobile consumer communications products for major industry leaders such as Lucent Technologies, Philips and Motorola.  Ruben was born in Buenos Aires, raised in the U.S. and has native fluency of English and Spanish. Ruben holds a B.S. ​Degree in Electrical Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

resume, office, laptop, writing

Beat the bots with these ATS-friendly resume tips in 2021 

With advancing technologies moving us further into the digital landscape, the world of job hiring is always changing. Gone are the days when your #1 goal as an applicant was to simply WOW the hiring manager or recruiters. Now, there are a few extra hurdles to get through in the form of AI technology. Many companies now use software known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter through resumes, narrowing down applicants before they are even seen by human eyes. Because of this, it is now crucial to tailor your resume to these systems, so you have the best chance of making it through to the next round in the hiring process. 

Below are some key resume tips to help you beat the bots and create an ATS-friendly resume in 2021 that will get your resume through the automated process and into human hands so you can get that interview! 

resume, office, laptop, writing

Try these ATS-friendly resume tips to beat the bots in 2021. (Photo credit: @homajob on Unsplash.)

7 ATS-friendly resume tips in 2021 to get the job

Keywords are key! 

One of the top resume tips in 2021 is keywords, keywords, keywords! When you’re trying to impress a bot, keywords are crucial. The ATS software will be scanning for keywords relevant to the job to see if you are the right fit. Many of these keywords may appear in the job description itself, so it’s important to have a resume tailored to each specific job. One general resume just isn’t going to cut it anymore. 

Some keywords the ATS may be scanning for could include hard skills such as “experience with spreadsheets” or “proficient in Adobe Photoshop.” Others may be spoken languages, certificates or licenses. In a profession such as teaching, the ATS may search for the required certifications that prove you can legally teach at an institution. The same is true for positions in the medical field or science where proper licenses are needed to practice.  

If you’re unsure which keywords to use for the job you are applying for, first scan the job description. Note the top requirements and job responsibilities. These are likely to be some of the target keywords. The job title itself may also be a keyword. You can also use sites like Jobscan and Skillsyncer to help you identify more keywords.

Just make sure the keywords you use are in context. Dumping a bunch of keywords with no context on your resume to “cheat” the system won’t get you far in the long run. You may fool the bot, but your resume will quickly be discarded once it reaches human eyes. 

Objective statements are out, the resume summary is in! 

Many resumes even in recent years recommended opening with an objective statement. However, the resume summary has become more popular and preferred in recent years. Try replacing your objective statement with a fresh, impactful summary detailing some of your top skills and experience to quickly communicate who you are as an employee. This summary is also a great place to add in relevant keywords that will impress the digital eyes of the ATS software. 

Choose the right format and layout 

Just as important as your keywords is your format and layout. ATS software prefers certain layouts over others as they are easier for the bot to read. You may be tempted to create a flashy or unique resume design in hopes to stand out among the rest, but this may actually hurt your chances more than you think. Obscure fonts, colors, and creative layouts make it harder for the ATS software to scan your resume. Keep it simple and ATS-friendly with a black and white, clean layout and standardized fonts such as Calibri, Arial, and Times New Roman, 

In general, both the software and the recruiters themselves prefer simple, monochromatic layouts. According to data collected by Resume Lab in a 2021 study, 72% of recruiters think monochromatic resumes are best. Additionally, 77% of recruiters think two-column resumes are better than single-column ones. Finally, of the three resume formats–chronological, combination, and functional–ATS software prefers chronological or combination. These two formats best organize your work experience in an easy to read style from most recent to oldest. For those with a normal work history with no large gaps or career changes, chronological or combination is the way to go!  

Correctly label your sections 

In addition to keeping your layout clean and simple, using the proper headings for each section will greatly help you pass the ATS screening process. ATS software organizes your information based on common resume headings, such as “Work Experience,” “Education”, and “Skills.” You may think a creative or catchy heading will make you stand out but it will only confuse the system and potentially risk your chance at making it through the scanning process. 

In general, according to Resume Lab’s 2021 Study, the key “must-have” sections are: 

  • Contact information
  • Resume profile (summary or objective)
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills

Which brings us to our next tip…

Be sure to include both soft skills and hard skills 

Data shows that 76% of recruiters prefer the two types of skills separated from one another on a resume. ATS software will scan for these two sections and recruiters are also now looking to see two distinct sections when it comes to skills. If this is all new to you or you are unfamiliar with these terms, soft skills are non-technical skills related to how you work, communicate, and solve problems. Some examples include: teamwork, communication, adaptability, creativity, and time management. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills specific to the job such as: graphic design, editing, computer coding, data analysis, web development, and marketing. 

For a well-rounded, ATS-friendly resume that will impress both digital and human eyes, be sure to include skills in both sections. 

You might be interested: 10 interview tips that will get you the job

Plug your LinkedIn profile 

Something many forget but apparently makes a big difference, is including a link to your LinkedIn profile in your contact information. According to Resume Lab, 96% of recruiters surveyed believe it is important to link to your profile in your resume. Including a link won’t hurt, and it may just give you that boost over the competition. 

Lastly, make sure you select the right file type 

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to make your resume ATS-friendly, is make sure it is in the right format for ATS software to scan. The standard accepted formats are .docx and .PDF and most of you are probably using these formats. However, many resume building tools and sites will often save resumes as image files such as .jpg or .png files which will not be readable by ATS software. This could automatically take you out of the running, so be sure to always save/download your resume in either .docx or .PDF format, which can easily be done using any Word Processor or Google Docs. Also be sure to check the job application to see if it lists a preferred format. 

Following these top 7 resume tips you will be able to create an ATS-friendly resume that will get you through the scanning process and one step close to landing your dream job! 

interview tips

10 Interview tips that will get you the job 

We’ve all been there. The nervous waiting, the stuttering responses, the awkward pauses, the sweaty palms just before that crucial handshake. Interviews are often anxiety ridden, nerve wracking, and downright stressful. But they don’t have to be! If you’re ready to land your dream job, then read on for these 10 interview tips that will get you the job!

interview tips

Top 10 interview tips to get you the job. (Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

Top 10 interview tips that will get you hired 

1. Research the company – Knowledge is power, as they say. The more knowledge you have the better equipped you will be to navigate any situation. This is also true when going for a job interview. Get to know the company, learn their values and mission statement. With the power of the internet and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, it’s never been easier to find information. Use this to your advantage. The company will want to know why you are the right fit for them, so, tell them! Flex your knowledge of the company and relate it back to you and your story. 

2. Practice, practice, practice – As part of your research into the company, you will likely encounter what the company is looking for and what they value. Try to use your research to anticipate the types of questions they may ask during your interview and work on your responses. As we all know, practice makes perfect, and practicing your responses will also help ease your anxiety or nerves during the interview since you will already know what to say instead of working through your responses on the spot. If you can, enlisting the help of a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview will also allow you to stretch those muscles in preparation for your real interview. 

3. Develop your personal story – Another great interview tip many do not consider is to develop your story. As we mentioned previously, you want to establish a personal connection between yourself and the company. Use your knowledge of the company to tailor your story and brand to fit with their values and mission. An interviewer will likely ask you to tell them about yourself. “Who are you?” “What’s your story?” “Why are you the right fit for this company?” When preparing for your interview, evaluate your life and experiences. Ask yourself:

  • What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? 
  • What do you value in a company? 
  • What are your skills and what can you bring to a company? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years/What are your long-term goals?

Work through these questions and begin developing a story. Your story is everything, there is no one else like you! 

interview tips

Interview tips: Show up early and dress to impress! (Woman photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com)

4. Show up early and dress to impress – First impressions are crucial. We have been told over and over again that a good first impression can make all the difference. Arriving late or underdressed to an interview may send the message that you are irresponsible and not really interested or committed to the position. 

However, things may happen outside of your control such as traffic and public transportation delays. If something does arise, it’s crucial to reach out and contact the interviewer immediately to inform them of the delay. The interviewer will appreciate the notice as it will allow that person to attend to other duties or interview the next person in line until your arrival.

5. Stay calm and speak confidently and clearly – There is nothing worse for an applicant than doing everything necessary to get the interview and then blowing it because the anxiety was too much. The first step to staying calm is to breathe properly. Stress and anxiety often creates a shortness of breath, which leads to more anxiety and a jumble of words that can seriously impact your chance of getting hired. Focus on taking deep breaths. Write a reminder on your notepad to “breathe and relax.” Also speak with confidence. If you’ve been practicing, then you already know your story and answering whatever questions interviewers throw at you will be a breeze. Maintaining good posture will also help not only your non-verbal communication, but your verbal communication as well, by giving you more confidence when you speak. 

You might be interested: How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

6. Practice good non-verbal communication – Another often forgotten interview tip is practicing your non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is just as important as your verbal skills. Non-verbal communication is also often the first impression you give when entering an interview. Proper posture, good eye contact, and a firm handshake will help you make a great first impression, setting a solid foundation for your interview.

Interview tips: Practice good non-verbal communication. (Business photo created by yanalya – www.freepik.com)

7. Listen and connect with your interviewer – Really listening to your interviewer is extremely important. Asking frequently to repeat a question can give off the impression that you are not focused or interested. Your interviewer may also mention things such as their alma mater, their favorite restaurant, weekend plans, a favorite book, or other topics that can be opportunities to connect and establish some commonalities. By listening and taking these opportunities to engage, you make a better impression and increase your chances of getting hired. 

8. Answer each question fully – Each question asked is a chance to tell your story and really sell why you are the best person for the job. Each question is also a tool interviewers use to gauge your personality, behavior, and skills. When you don’t have an answer to a question or don’t answer it fully, you are providing less information to your interviewer, thus lessening your chances of getting the job. Instead, someone who gave full answers and spoke about themselves will have a leg up over you. So be sure to take every question as an opportunity to share your story, your thoughts, skills, and values. 

9. Ask questions – Many candidates answer, “No,” when asked if they have questions. This is the wrong answer. Just as answering the interviewer’s questions is important to showcase who you are and why you are the right fit, asking your own questions is equally important. Asking questions again shows your interest and commitment to the position. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. By asking questions, you not only demonstrate that you were listening and engaging, you also show interest and commitment to the position. 

10. Follow up after the interview – Lastly, this interview tip could give you a boost up and help you stand out among other candidates. Following up after an interview is a great way to show your interest in the position and appreciation for the opportunity. You can follow up by sending a thank-you note or email reiterating your interest in the position. Sending a personalized note to each person who interviewed you also adds an extra touch and helps foster a stronger connection. You can also use your follow up note to include any details you may have forgotten to mention in your interview. 

Community leader and nonprofit organizer Sandy S. Broughton shares her story of career success and lessons learned

Sandy S. Broughton is  a leader in her community and a role model and a champion for women in business. Today she shares with us her career story and journey to career success.

Currently, Sandy S. Broughton is the Community Development Officer of Investor Bank’s New Jersey branches. In this role she works to support and connect the bank’s NJ branches in the nonprofit space, overseeing the development of community relation activities and creating business development and expansion strategies of nonprofit organizations.

Sandy S. Broughton, Community Development Officer of Investor Bank’s NJ branches. (Photo courtesy Sandy S. Broughton)

Additionally, Sandy plans and hosts the banks’ Annual Not-for-Profit Conference in New Jersey and serves on the Investors Bank Foundation Vetting Committee. She is also the co-chair of the Community Committee of the bank’s Women’s Leadership Council.

Defying expectations and navigating challenges on the road to success 

Sandy has had a long and successful career thus far. With almost 30 year experience in the nonprofit sector, she has been broadly recognized for her achievements and excellence in the field and in her various leadership roles. 

Among her recognitions, she is the proud recipient of the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s most prestigious honor – the Woman of Distinction Award, the Tri County Scholarship Fund – Woman of Achievement Award, Special Parent Advocacy Group (SPAG) – Hero Award, and last but certainly not least, the NAACP’s Community Achievement Award. Among her proudest professional accomplishments, Sandy has been recognized in the Investors Bank “Circle of Excellence – Best of the Best” four times during her tenure with the bank. 

Sandy’s career success was not achieved alone or overnight and she realizes that she stands on the shoulders of many amazing women who came before her and who helped her along her journey become who she is today. 

Born on a farm in North Carolina, Sandy moved to Paterson, NJ at an early age. Her family did not have a lot of money but getting an education was always stressed by her parents and college wasn’t an option. 

Sandy attended THE Eastside High School in Paterson, you know the movie, Lean on Me, and graduated in the top 20 of her class of over 650 students.  She expressed to her guidance counselor she wanted to attend Rutgers University, and was told she wasn’t ready for such a big school and that she wouldn’t get accepted. She instead was encouraged to go to the community college. 

United Way Warmest Wishes Coat Drive. Sandy serves on the Board and proudly participates as coats are collected for needy children throughout Ocean and Monmouth Counties. (Photo courtesy Sandy S. Broughton)

 “Don’t get me wrong – community colleges are amazing, but I wanted the whole campus experience. I applied anyway and got accepted and couldn’t wait to tell her! When I did – she responded, ‘Let’s see how long you stay there.’ Those words could have ended my vision of that on-campus experience. However, I used it as a challenge,” says Sandy. “That fall, I went to Rutgers and I worked hard. I surrounded myself with people who were hungry for a degree – just as I was. Not only did I want my family to be proud, but I had to prove that guidance counselor wrong and send her a copy of my Rutgers degree – AND I DID!” 

Motivated by this challenge, Sandy went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey – Douglass College. She then continued her education and earned a Master of Administrative Science degree, with a concentration in Leadership and Non-Profit Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). She completed her final coursework at the Wroxton Campus of FDU in Oxfordshire, England, northwest of London. 

Achieving career success: “If I can do it so can you!” 

Sandy pictured with Carlos Medina, President — Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ, and entrepreneur, Quovella Mitchell. (Photo courtesy Sandy S. Broughton)

Sandy reflects back on that story about her high school guidance counselor’s discouragement and lack of faith in her and the impact one person can have on your life. Perspective is everything. Sandy could have accepted her guidance counselor’s low expectations and gone down a different path. However, she instead followed her dreams and did not let others stand in her way in achieving what she knew was possible for herself. 

“One person or one decision can totally change the course of your life. So, it doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have – if you work hard and surround yourself with the right people, you can do whatever you put your mind to,” Sandy says to other women struggling through doubts and looking to achieve career success. 

Sandy has had a long and rewarding career because she knew her potential and did not let anyone dim her light. Through her work in the nonprofit community she has served in numerous leadership roles and impacted the lives of many. 

Prior to joining Investors Bank in March of 2014, she served as the Executive Director of the Ocean County College Foundation for 11 years where she raised millions of dollars to support the student scholarship program, as well as special projects and programs of Ocean County College. Sandy also spent nine years at the Girl Scouts in North Jersey in various capacities, culminating in the position of Director leading the fundraising, public relations, community development initiatives, and special events. Additionally she has held positions at the United Way of Passaic Valley, the Urban League of Bergen County, and Hackensack Medical Center. 

You might be interested: 2021 WEES: Announcing THRIVE! Women’s Panel Speakers 

Currently, she serves on the Board of Trustees of RWJ Barnabas Health Systems – Community Medical Center Campus; Ocean County College Foundation; NJ ACE Women’s Network; and the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean Counties in addition to serving on various committees including, but not limited to, the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore’s Resource Development Committee, and the Boy Scouts/Jersey Shore Advisory Board. 

Sandy also volunteers with the Caregivers of Ocean County Alzheimer’s Respite Program and is also a member of New Beginnings Agape Christian Center in Freehold, NJ, where she serves in the Usher’s Ministry. 

Sandy delivering lunch to and visiting a “special lady” in a program that is near and dear to her heart during COVID-19. (Photo courtesy Sandy S. Broughton)

Her numerous positions and leadership roles within the community is an inspiration to women everywhere that each of us are capable of achieving great career success in our personal and professional lives and inspiring others with our work. Sandy’s story shows us the importance in believing in yourself and your own potential. One person can change the course of your life, for the good or the bad — you get to decide! 

 “If I can do it – so can you! If my work can make a difference – so can yours,” says Sandy. “You get what you work for – NOT what you wish for.”

 

women caregivers

Women caregivers have faced greater job-loss and health issues due to pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, women caregivers have been disproportionately affected. One in 10 working mothers with children under 18 report quitting a job due to COVID. 

With Mother’s Day just having passed, I’m sure we are all feeling appreciative of the women caregivers in our lives. Data shows that two out of every three caregivers in the United States are women. These women are responsible for providing daily or regular support to children, adults, or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Many of them are also working women with jobs outside of their caretaking responsibilities. 

Unfortunately, it’s these women caregivers that have suffered disproportionately, facing greater job losses and an increase in caretaking responsibilities since the pandemic began. Women caregivers are also at a greater risk for poor physical and mental health, with conditions like depression and anxiety being most prevalent. 

A closer look at the effects of the pandemic on caregivers 

According to data collected by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 1 in 10 women report quitting a job due to a pandemic related reason and almost half said that one of the reasons was because they felt unsafe at their workplace. Additionally, over half of mothers with school age children said that the stress and worry of the pandemic has affected their mental health, with 1 in 5 characterizing the impact as “major.” Yet, only 16% of mothers have sought mental health care to address their additional stress. 

Despite seeing improvements in recent years in regards to gender roles, women are still the primary caregivers and still more likely than men to leave their job to fulfill caretaking responsibilities. Prolonged school closures lead to a large number of working mothers having to take unpaid time off or leave their jobs entirely. One out of ten working mothers with children under the age of 18 reported quitting their job due to COVID-19 and half of that group also cited school closures as one of the main reasons, KFF’s data reports. Additionally, 3 out of 10 working mothers reported taking time off due to school closures. These numbers were higher for women of minority groups, with Latinas being the largest group to report taking time off to fulfill caregiving roles. 

Caring for older family members 

Caregivers are not just mothers of young children. Many women caregivers are also responsible for older family members. Data from the KFF states that, more than one in ten women reported they were caring for a family member who needed special assistance prior to the pandemic and that since the pandemic they have new caregiving responsibilities. 

Again, women of color face greater numbers when it comes to family caregiving responsibilities. Almost one in five Black women (18%) report caring for someone who needed special assistance prior to the pandemic, significantly higher than the 12% of White women. For Hispanic women, 18% say they have had to take on new caregiving responsibilities since the pandemic started and nearly 1 in 10 Hispanic women workers say they have had to take time off work because they were caring for a family member quarantining from or sick with COVID-19.

All of these additional responsibilities and stressors can lead to mental and physical health issues for women caregivers. This is why it is important for caregivers to look after their own needs and for others to support the caretakers in their lives. 

You might be interested: Stress Awareness Month: Coping with post-covid stress and stress at work 

Tips and resources for women caregivers 

The CDC offers many resources and tips for caregivers. Below are three key pillars to staying strong and healthy in the face of stress: 

  • Practice stress management techniques – Perhaps an obvious one, but to manage stress you should put time into addressing the cause of your stress and find healthy ways to cope. Some stress management exercises you can practice include: meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises. Connecting with others and making time to unwind and relax will also help you manage your stress. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first from time to time. 
  • Maintain your own health – Staying physically fit will help you feel better and stronger as you navigate your day to day caregiving duties. Make sure you are staying hydrated, sleeping well, exercising regularly and eating healthy, nutritious meals.
  • Seek extra support – Nobody can do it all and you are not alone. When it all gets to be too much, do not be afraid to seek out extra help. Call a friend or family member. Divide your tasks among others. Seek out virtual support groups for caretakers or ask your doctor for additional resources such as counseling.

Tapping into Latinas’ potential could unlock $393 billion in economic value in the U.S. 

Did you know that right now Latinas hold the power to unlock $393 billion in economic value in the U.S. and reboot the post-pandemic economy? In fact, some may even say Latina business owners and entrepreneurs have a ‘midas touch.’

The untapped economic value of Latinas in the workplace

According to an article published by Forbes, Latinas have this ‘midas touch’ that could potentially deliver $393 bullion in incremental value to the U.S. economy. Additionally, the most recent State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report conducted by Stanford  Graduate School of Business found that much of the growth among new businesses in recent years has been driven by Latinas. The data from the report revealed that Latinas currently represent 40% of all Latino business owners and the number of Latina-led employer firms has grown 20% within the last five-year period. 

In the same article published by Forbes it was reported that in 2019 alone, Latina entrepreneurs owned 2.3 million businesses and generated $119 billion in revenue. However, despite the tremendous economic power of Latinas, the average size of Latina-owned businesses is much lower than that of others, averaging only $50,900 in annual revenue. Latina businesses have also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic as data from the Stanford report shows. According to the report, 41% of Latinas have reported experiencing “large negative impacts” due to the pandemic and nearly twice as many Latina-owned businesses experienced pandemic-related closures (30%) compared to Latino- and White Male- owned businesses (16% and 18% respectively). 

Source: 2020 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Report

Latinas also suffer from unfair gender biases in the workplace, especially in the area of wages. The gender wage gap for Latinas is 55 cents per every dollar earned by a White, non-Hispanic man. Furthermore, a 2016 briefing paper from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that if current gender wage gap trends continue without any action, it will take over two centuries for the gender wage gap to close for Latinas

Latinas Equal Pay Day, gender wage gap

Latinas are among the most adversely affected by the gender pay gap. They are paid just 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. (Source: latinaequalpay.org)

But this does not have to be the narrative for Latinas. Latinas are strong, powerful, and capable business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and leaders. If given the opportunities to generate the same level of revenue as white-women-owned businesses, Latina-owned businesses would generate an additional $393 billion in annual revenue–a big boost for Latinas and the U.S. economy as a whole. 

Closing the gap and supporting the Latina market 

To reach this potential and truly unlock the economic value of Latinas, more companies, corporations, and legislative bodies need to take a chance on Latinas. We need to see more Latinas in corporate-level positions. More Latinas in leadership. More funding for Latina-owned businesses. 

Photo by Armand Valendez from Pexels

This past year we have already seen some step up to the plate. Earlier in January, the tech giant Apple appointed the first Latina ever to their Board of Directors. Monica Lozano, president and CEO of College Futures Foundation, was appointed as the eighth board member, bringing with her a broad range of leadership experience, as well as a long track record as a champion for equity, opportunity, and representation.

“Monica has been a true leader and trailblazer in business, media, and an ever-widening circle of philanthropic efforts to realize a more equitable future — in our schools and in the lives of all people,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Her values and breadth of experience will help Apple continue to grow, to innovate, and to be a force for good in the lives of our teams, customers, and communities.”

Giannella Alvarez, Latina board member

Driscoll’s new Latina board member, Giannella Alvarez (Photo: Business Wire)

Even more recently, the major berry company, Driscoll’s, appointed Latinas Giannella Alvarez and Graciela Monteagudo to their board. Both women were praised for their cultural and international knowledge, citing these skills as great assets for the company’s dealings in the global market. 

Speaking on Ginannella’s appointment, J. Miles Reiter, Driscoll’s Chairman and CEO said, “Giannella is a highly creative and decisive leader who has a proven track record of talent building and energizing organizations across countries, customers and channels. Her significant on-the-ground international experiences will serve as an invaluable asset as Driscoll’s continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing marketplace.” 

Graciela Monteagudo, Latina board member

Driscoll’s new Latina board member, Graciela Monteagudo (Photo: Business Wire)

On Graciela, Reiter shared, “Graciela’s expertise in addressing the Mexican consumer and retail environment will be invaluable to Driscoll’s as we navigate increasing consumer demand in this important growth market. Her experience in consumer brands, especially in the health and nutrition sector, will bolster Driscoll’s capability and success in markets around the globe.”

In the small business sector, GrubHub has been working to support women-led restaurants. Four years ago the company launched RestaurantHER, a platform that connects women-led restaurants and empowers them to bridge the wage gap among women in the restaurant industry. And this year they are expanding and focusing an eye on supporting Latina-led restaurants, Forbes reported

Lastly, on the government level, supporting Latina business owners and entrepreneurs through funding and legislation is crucial to unlocking the economic value of Latinas. Appointing Latinas to government leadership roles is also incredibly important. This past year we have already seen great improvements such as with the appointment of Latina Isabella Casillas Guzman as SBA Administrator and various government programs dedicated to supporting minority-owned businesses. 

You might be interested: Stacie de Armas on breaking stereotypes and advocating for Latinas

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act is pivoting to funnel more aid and relief toward minority-owned small businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. The Act will help small businesses recover post-COVID by providing critical assistance to businesses across the country and delivering $50 billion in aid and relief. 

In New Jersey, the Murphy Administration is working to provide greater opportunities for minority, women, and veteran owned businesses through various key initiatives. These initiatives include a disparity study–the first in 20 years–to identify ways in which the State can contract Minority, Women, and Veteran-Owned Businesses (MWVOB) to provide goods and services. 

“This disparity study is not only long overdue, it is an integral part of our vision for a stronger, fairer, and more resilient, post-COVID economy that opens doors for diverse businesses to play a greater role in shaping our state’s future,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “This study will provide us with an opportunity to create a more equitable business environment, which is a win for us all.”

Other NJ organizations, such as New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and NJ FAM are also providing resources and access to capital for Black and Latina business owners through the development of various funds and programs. 

In a recent Instagram Live, NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan and digitalundivided CEO Lauren Maillian,  spotlighted the recently-proposed Black and Latino Seed Fund, which the NJEDA intends to create to drive capital to Black- and Latino-owned enterprises. 

A recording of the entire chat can be viewed below. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by digitalundivided (@digitalundivided)

With many big name companies and government initiatives taking a chance on Latinas, the future is looking promising. Numbers show that Latinas are an industrious, innovative group, taking the lead in recent years as the fastest growing demographic of small business owners. 

It’s clear that the economic power of Latinas has been overlooked for too long. From small businesses to corporate, Latinas hold tremendous power and abilities. Wherever a Latina goes, she brings with her a special touch, her unique perspective, and a whole lot of passion and drive. And the untapped economic value of Latinas is just what the U.S. economy needs to reboot and recover post-pandemic. The time to take a chance on Latinas is now, and it is long overdue. 

It will take two centuries for the gender wage gap to close for Latinas if we do nothing

March 24 marked Equal Pay Day for all women. The day was officially established in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) as a symbolic representation of how far into this year women must work to catch up to what men made in the previous year. Women working full-time, year-round are typically paid just 82 cents for every dollar paid to men. That is just the statistic for women in general, but the gender wage gap is much wider for minority women, especially Latinas. 

Equal Pay Day

Women’s Equal Pay Day marks the day into the year on which it takes for women on average to earn what men did in 2020. (Source: equalpaytoday.org)

The gender wage gap for Latinas in the U.S. 

For Latina women in the U.S., Equal Pay Day is not until October 21 this year, meaning it will take until October 2021 for Latinas to have earned the same amount as white men did in 2020. To put it another way, a Latina woman must work 23 months to earn what white men earn in just 12 months

Latinas account for close to $1 trillion in US buying power, but earn on average only 55 cents to the dollar paid to white, non-hispanic men. Additionally, the pay gap widens for educated Latinas. Latinas are pursuing higher education more than ever before but education does not eliminate the pay gap. In fact, the gap is largest for Latinas with a bachelor’s degree, who earn 37% less than white men on average. 

Latinas Equal Pay Day, gender wage gap

Latinas are among the most adversely affected by the gender pay gap. They are paid just 55 cents for every dollar earned by white, non-Hispanic men. (Source: latinaequalpay.org)

All around, Latinas tend to make less than everyone, with Latina Equal Pay Day being the last Equal Pay Day group celebrated each year.

If the gender pay gap does not improve, Latinx women have a lot to lose: $28,036 every year, and $1,121,440 over the course of a 40-year career. To catch up, Latinas in New Jersey and California would have to work until ages 115 and 114 respectively.

In twelve states – Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Washington – Latinas lose more to the wage gap than they are paid in a year.

You might be interested: How Latinas Equal Pay Day 47 percent pay gap hurts big business

The states with the largest lifetime losses due to the wage gap include California ($1,708,160), Connecticut ($1,499,800), Illinois ($1,261,040), Maryland ($1,554,400), Massachusetts ($1,369,000), New Jersey ($1,760,840), Rhode Island ($1,196,360), Texas ($1,389,800), Washington ($1,300, 960), and Washington, D.C. ($1,953,000).

Closing the gap for an equal future 

The gender wage gap has narrowed slightly over time but only by a few pennies over several decades. Currently the average pay for women in general is 82 cents per dollar earned by a man. A decade ago in 2011, that number was 77 cents, and in 1996 when the first Equal Pay Day was established, the number was around 74 cents. If this trend continues, the wage gap will not close for another 38 years or until around 2059.

For Black women the date is over a century away. And for Hispanic women it will be over two centuries before the wage gap closes if we do nothing to change the trend. 

gender wage gap, Latina Equal Pay Day

Join leaders, advocates and influencers across the nation who are pledging to take action as champions of gender parity. (Source: latinaequalpay.org)

The first steps to closing the wage gap is to push for legislative action. The Paycheck Fairness Act is just one of many acts that will take important steps towards the goal of ending pay discrimination. For instance, it will ban employers from seeking salary history — removing a common false justification for under-paying women and people of color — and it will hold employers accountable who engage in systemic discrimination.  The bill will also work to ensure transparency and reporting of disparities in wages, because the problem will never be fixed if workers are kept in the dark about the fact that they are not being paid fairly.  

Raise the Wage Act is another legislative measure that will help close the wage gap in the long run. The Raise the Wage Act of 2021 would increase the minimum wage annually from its current level ($7.25) to $15 by 2025, after which the minimum wage would be indexed to median hourly wage growth. With Latinas overrepresented in low-wage work, the Raise the Wage Act would give 32% of working Latinas a significant raise. 

Resources for more information and further learning on the gender wage gap: 

https://www.latinaequalpay.org/ 

https://www.pay-equity.org/index.html

http://www.equalpaytoday.org/overview-2021