BU Alumni share, encourage students about life after college

photoBy Abigail Loop

Living life in the real world now doesn’t seem so scary.

Tuesday, the department of multicultural affairs and the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee hosted the “Life After Baylor” Forum.

The forum was held in commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

It was held at 6:30 p.m. in 309 Cashion Academic Center, the forum featured five Hispanic Baylor alumni who gave advice and encouragement to current Baylor students on how to succeed after college while being from a Hispanic background.

“We just wanted to target undergraduates so they can see the different experiences alumni have been through in the workplace,” said Dallas senior Wendy Hinojosa, a representative of Sigma Iota Alpha on the Hispanic Heritage Month Committee. “We wanted to give them an idea of what happens after graduating.”

Hinojosa went on to explain her fear of graduating and how the forum could help others like her.

“I’m scared of the unknown,” she said. “It’s scary living without school when that’s what you’ve been doing all your life. I think we need to be open to any help to succeed.”

The panel of Baylor alumni addressed this issue by saying how they had hardships their life and how students can overcome obstacles to succeed.

“I was scared that I wouldn’t graduate,” said Yvette Hernandez, a panelist who graduated Baylor in May of 2011. “When I did, it was the happiest moment of my life. Your hard work pays off. I was also worried that I wouldn’t have a job immediately after I graduate. But it all worked out.”

Hernandez, who now works as a labor delivery nurse at St. David Georgetown Hospital, encouraged students by saying it is OK to slow down and explore different paths.

“I was always stressed in college,” Hernandez said. “I realized now that stepping off the path is OK, just remember to reach for the end goal.”

The panel then went on to explain the hard work ethic and the success of reaching their goals were influenced by their Hispanic culture.

Jessica Melendez, a panelist who graduated Baylor in May 2013, said by being Hispanic, employers and collegues have expected her to have a high work ethic and students should be ready to show that in their future jobs.

“I work as a Baylor Admissions Counselor,” Melendez said. “I think we have a strong work ethic. Sometimes I’ll get a project done early and good and I think that’s normal. Your boss will be impressed.”

Milton Vasquez, a panelist who graduated Baylor in 2006, agreed with Melendez.

“I think we’re used to seeing tough times, but we keep on going,” he said. “We weren’t raised to be babied.”

All panelists agreed that by staying true to one’s culture and interacting with different people that students can achieve the most success.

“Be proud of your roots and get out of your comfort zone,” said Dr. Elizabeth Palacios, Dean for Student Development at Baylor and also a former Baylor graduate. “The more you learn, the more you see that you don’t know.”

Melendez agreed with Palacios.

“Don’t be scared to try different things from different cultures,” Melendez said. “I wish I had taken more opportunities to join different organizations.”

Mayra Maldonado, a former Baylor graduate and panelist who is now an Allstate Project Manager, said the best thing students can do is be themselves.

“See what you can bring to the table and don’t hold back,” she said. “People need diversity so stand out.”

Students who attended the event and heard the stories of the panelists thought the forum was a great way to start preparing for the future.

“I feel like I got a lot more insight,” said Houston freshman Kelly Moreno. “I learned that I should be myself and not try to blend in.”

McAllen junior Tamara Cantu, vice-president of the Hispanic Student Association, said she came to the forum to see what students of the past had learned.

“I wanted to see their different points of view,” Cantu said. “I learned that we should embrace who we are and I feel more confident now.”