National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15th to October 15th.
We are honoring Hispanic Heritage Month with Rosy Van Horn. We sat down with her to learn about her own Hispanic heritage, how that heritage helps her be a strong consultant and a reminder that not all Hispanics or Latinx are the same.
Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
Hispanic Heritage Month to me is a time in which we as a Hispanic/Latinx community celebrate together. I don’t just celebrate my culture and heritage one time out of the year, but HHM is when others are celebrating so it’s a time to unite and uplift with my community. Growing up no one ever celebrated HHM, so seeing companies, schools, and communities do it now is really something special and something I think young Rosy would have loved.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background and upbringing?
My mom and dad are both Mexican immigrants from Guanajuato, Mexico. They both grew up in poor households; my mom and dad were both pulled out of school to help support their families before either of them even got to the 3rd grade. Because of their lack of traditional education, they never really had an emphasis on this for their own children. I’m the youngest of seven, and the only one with a college education. I don’t blame my parents for not having an emphasis on education growing up though, it just wasn’t the way they were raised. But they instilled other very important values in us. If I had to pick one that comes to mind – I would say generosity. Despite raising seven kids in a three-bedroom home, we always seemed to have a spare room for someone newly immigrated to the U.S. My parents constantly stressed the importance of giving even when they didn’t have much to give.
Q: Is being Hispanic a key part of your identity?
Very much! But when I was a kid, I did NOT like being Mexican. All my friends were white, and I just wanted to look like them. I didn’t like being “other.” But my mom was a very proud Mexican woman, and she wanted me to inherit her passion for her culture. Rather than shying away from our “otherness”, she’d always share WHY it was wonderful to be different. Why everyone’s differences are all wonderful. Her excitement for anything “Mexican” that she’d find in Oregon was just so pure that it was infectious. Back then there weren’t a lot of Mexican mercados where we lived, but anytime she found something she’d beam and tell me a story of her childhood.
Her favorite way of sharing our culture was through food (albondigas, tamales, arroz con leche, you name it – my mom made it). She was an amazing cook, and I know everyone says that about their mom…but everyone used to say it about MY mom. She passed away 13 years ago, but all the traditions of our culture that she shared with me as a child, are still very much a part of who I am today.
Q: How has your heritage shaped who you are as a consultant?
It’s kind of funny, but I tell people that being the daughter of two Mexican immigrants made me a natural problem solver. It’s like a muscle that I built over time. As a child my parents always needed help translating something (that came in handy with parent-teacher conferences). But translating my parent’s needs became second nature. My parents were two proud people and didn’t like to ask for help often so I learned to read in between the lines. Maybe a letter came from our insurance provider, and they didn’t understand, but they didn’t want to ask their 12-year-old for help. I’d find ways to help without making them feel less than. In consulting there is a lot of translating. Maybe not translating a language but translating someone’s needs even when they haven’t explicitly stated them. An old boss once told me that this came intuitively to me, but I know it came from my upbringing.
Q: What would you like your fellow Propeller consultants and business leaders, know about Hispanic heritage?
This is a hard question! I think mostly I’d want them to understand that “Hispanics” are not all the same. And neither is “Latinx.” If you want to learn more about those differences, there are a lot of great articles online including this one!
Resource: Pew Research Center - Who is Hispanic?
Q: How did you celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month this year?
To me, HHM is a great time to find new business to support! I love wine so I’ve been exploring Hispanic/Latinx owned Oregon Wineries.
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