It’s time for Hispanic Heritage Month. This year, we are celebrating Latinx culture and achievements by shining the spotlight on four members of the Greene Tweed family who provide us insights into what it means to be Hispanic and Latinx.
We asked them to reflect on their lives, their careers, their heroes, their struggles, and how they honor the culture and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans this month and the rest of the year.
Carolina Rodriguez, Enterprise Value Stream Manager
Carolina Rodriguez, who oversees Chemraz® production teams as well as Chemraz® Development Engineering, feels that Hispanic Heritage month is a time to reflect on, and celebrate the Latino culture, journey, and Latino role models.
"Having a month that celebrates Latinos is a recognition that we, as other minority groups, contribute and are part of the fabric of our culture. We are more than happy to share the music, food, unique traditions, and values that shape who we are as individuals. For example, Puerto Rico-born Bad Bunny, made MTV VMA history this year by becoming the first Latin performer to win artist of the year. Now, Bad Bunny may not be your cup of tea, but it is indisputable that there are more artists than ever before. We have Juanes, Shakira, J.Balvin, Maluma, Pitbull, and the list goes on," she says.
She goes on to talk about the Latino food scene that she believes is at another level, "It's not just tacos, but it's birria, yucca fries, elotes, mofongo, arepas, sancocho, tamales, pupusas! Even Disney is representing Latinos in movies such as Coco and Encanto. Coco beautifully depicts the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Muertos. And Encanto, is set in Rural Colombia. Both movies personify the values we place on family, respect for our elders, and emphasis on community."
Her role models are not just musicians or movie characters. "Latinos are Supreme Court Justices - Sonia Sotomayor; Astronauts- Ellen Ochoa; and authors such as Sandra Cisnero. Our role models are also close to home. My mother worked full time, and still managed to earn a bachelors and master's degree - instilling in me a value of education. My father earned technical degrees in automotive and aviation, instilling in me a passion in all things mechanical," she explains.
To her, Latino heritage month is also about looking forward, and at the numbers. "In the USA, Latinos make up 19 percent of the US population (62.1M). In the workplace, we account for 17 percent of all jobs. But when it comes to STEM jobs, we only account for 8 percent. If you want to get specific, Latinas only account for about 2 percent of Engineering degrees! I truly believe, representation and making education more accessible we can make inspire more talent, and make grounds, as Latinos are doing in music, arts, and athletics," she says.
Ricardo Aquines, Application Engineering Manager
For Ricardo Aquines, growing up in a South Texas border town meant fluency in two languages and being part of two cultures. "I grew up in the bilingual, bicultural Mexican American part of the world and thought that was normal," he says. It wasn't until college that he began to meet people from varied backgrounds. "When I went to Cornell, I realized that we are a minority and underrepresented in a lot of different parts of the country," he adds.
His ambition to attend an out-of-state college was inspired by his best friend's older sister who enrolled in Stanford while he was in High school. And he now wants to pay it forward and inspire others who may not have thought of higher education as a possibility, "I remember telling myself that if she can do it, I can too." His message to them: "Even if you are not the tallest, the fastest, or the smartest, you can always work the hardest."
Now as part of the corporate world, he understands there are still some hurdles, "I think people in general are intimated by things that they don't know and can sometimes have prejudices. I hope that by working with me, they will be able to smash some of those stereotypes."
Having worked at Greene Tweed for about 13 years, he appreciates its diverse and inclusive culture. "It is one of the most diverse and friendliest places I have worked at. We have done a good job to have diversity at various levels of the organization," he says.
Marissa Abssi, Business Process Lead
Marissa Abssi who recently assumed a new role to help develop solutions to optimize process efficiency, processing time, and mitigate risks in the HR function, is not fond of the word Hispanic. "I don't really like the word Hispanic because it denotes being of Spanish heritage and genealogically, I am Cuban and Latina but not Hispanic," she explains.
Her pride in her family and heritage is not restricted to this month. "I am proud to celebrate my family and heritage every day of every month. I look at the contributions and influences the Latin culture has made to America and am proud to know we are a better country for embracing these contributions. She doesn't plan to do anything special to observe this month but recognizes its significance. "I think this month is important because it validates us and our existence in the world."
For Marissa, this month represents all the hardships as well as successes her family has experienced. "My parents left their home [Cuba] when they were very young to escape communism and give their family a better life and it wasn't always easy. So, for me, being Latin means understanding the importance of culture especially when it is taken away or not always present. The foods, music, language, and love for the culture is something very special."
Arnobis Llorente, Production Planning Supervisor
This month is of great significance to Arnobis Llorente, who leads the planning team in the Houston plant since August of this year.
"This month means a lot to me because it reminds us how different cultures help enrich society. It's also a recognition of the contributions made by Hispanic and Latin communities to the greatness of the U.S." he exclaims.
Arnobis joined Greene Tweed's IBP implementation team in 2018 and in the Master Planner role has helped to create and establish a process for the long-term capacity analysis in Seal-Connect® and Chemraz®. It took him a while to overcome the language barrier and communicate well with his co-workers. "In the beginning I didn't have the fluency in the English language to fully express myself or understand different accents. But Greene Tweed has been a family for me, and I have been fortunate enough to find people who have helped me during the process.".
All the differences disappear once he gets to know people better. "When I talk to other Greene Tweeders about our roots and discuss how we were raised, we found that there are several common values that our parents taught us. It's great to find that, in the end, we are all humans and not so different from each other."