Each year, National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, to recognize the histories, cultures and contributions of citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
“¿Por que Hispanic?”
Hispanic has been used as a blanket term since the 1960s, originating from “Hispano,” a person whose cultural traditions originate from Spain. Many people agree that combining so many cultures under one term erases the centuries of culture and history of Afro-Latino and indigenous communities whose history is not necessarily tied to Spain.
This conversation also came up in the Turing School community. The Student Circle for for anyone who identifies as Latinx/Hispanic/Chicanx was called Turing Latinos until 2020. They collaboratively made the decision to change the name to Mezcla (the Spanish language word for “mixture”). Everyone agreed, Mezcla better represented a group of people who have a shared identity with roots in a lot of different cultures, histories, countries, and experiences.
Meet a few faces from Turing School's Mezcla Circle:
Graduated March 2021
Hired at Ibotta as an Associate Platform Engineer in May 2021
If I hadn’t reached out to my college friend who was in Mezcla, I don’t know if I would have taken the leap to attend Turing. Talking to him made it seem attainable. I never thought I’d be making nearly 6 figures in my 20s and going to Turing got me there. As an alumni, I want to help people with similar backgrounds to mine make the leap.
Before Turing, I had a unique background working a lot of different jobs. I was in the Marine Corps, then in sales and banking, and pursued a marketing degree. Most recently I was a property manager. I was never happy with that career path. I had made around $30,000 before I graduated and only got up to $40,000 after. It wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I knew I wanted to do something tech related and through my network got a customer service role at Ibotta, where I was pretty quickly promoted to supervisor. From there, I connected with the engineering team and one of them was a Turing grad. That's when I realized my friend from college was also a Turing grad he told me more about the school and Mezcla.
I did a little more research and went to a Try Coding class. I was pretty sold from the get go so I quit my job in September of 2020 to go to Turing. Once I got in, I felt like people in my cohort knew more than I did. I put out the call to people in the Mezcla Circle and was able to connect with other members who tutored and paired with me, which helped me get on track.
After I survived Mod 1 I knew I wanted to provide that same support for other people. I volunteered to take on more with Mezcla and started putting on social events where we would chat and connect. Alumni would share tips and experiences with current students, too.
That is why we chose a molcajete for the logo because it represents literally mixing together. We help each other with everything and regardless of where our heritage is from, we have many shared experiences.
Now I have a job on the engineering side at Ibotta and I know that having people like me on the design side make the app more accessible for all of the Latinx people who use the app.
In my opinion, the two biggest hurdles to getting into the tech industry are getting the knowledge and finding the first job. That’s why short programs like Turing and groups like Mezcla are great. I look forward to getting people past those hurdles and eventually moving into a Senior level role where I can give people like me a chance to get into the industry. To me, the biggest thing is just being there, so that people can see someone who looks like them in the industry.
As I start my career in tech I want to show people like me that you can participate in the change. I think in the past I’ve let outside voices limit my curiosity in things that aren’t “for” people who identify as a woman or as Latina. Now I know I have the potential to change myself for the better when I let go of those fears.
I live in Virginia, where my family and I moved from Bolivia when I was a teenager. I had a degree in global affairs and but I wasn't using it for work.
Before Turing, I had started working part time as a virtual receptionist. I always wanted that to be a transitionary job and liked it being online and part time so I could figure out what I actually wanted to do for a career.
I got in touch with USO Pathfinders because my husband is in the military. I told them I was seeking a new career that had something to do with computers, where I could be challenged and grow. One day they sent me a flier for a Try Coding workshop. I did the workshop and I fell in love. After the first day I was hooked on Turing’s mission and what it stands for.
But to be honest, I was scared of bootcamps because I didn’t want to get scammed. The fact that Turing was a nonprofit was a huge selling point. I found the jobs reports of alumni and from there I decided I was going to do it. It was more affordable than a four year Computer Science degree and I appreciated that I would get career support during and after.
I loved the structure of how Turing was set up. I was already familiar with Slack and working from home, but I loved getting to be interactive with all of my classmates through those tools.
What was unexpected to me was the community. My cohort was full of amazing people who were so willing to help each other. No one was afraid to ask questions and this helped me let go of the fear of not knowing things and embrace changing myself for the better. I felt safe because it was ok to fail and make mistakes. The Circles, instructors, and cohort were there to hold my hand.
I browsed all of the channels and Student Circles available on Slack and joined everything that caught my interest from Dungeons and Dragons, to Joan Clarke Society, and Mezcla.
Knowing that I have all of those communities there is a good feeling. I knew I could go to the people in those Circles and they will want to help because they have been in my shoes. We’re able to identify with each other and share experiences and it feels safe.
I can’t wait to show people, look, here is a woman who looks like you. She is proof that you have the support and options to pursue any career you want.
Many members of the Mezcla Circle are also involved with Techqueria, a nonprofit that serves the largest global community of Latinx professionals in the tech industry. This Hispanic Heritage Month consider supporting this great organization!