Latino Giant: Cristian Pineda

Achieving Success through Reflection

We’re at a time that the Latino population in the United States isn’t taboo anymore. Latinos may be known as the new “political power player,” but the success stories of many Latinos isn’t new. And while success can have different definitions depending on who one asks, I think of success as overcoming a personal goal and continuing to grow from the experience. I believe that one achieves success once reflecting back, and I believe that success cannot be measured at the moment, but measured from the experience.

I was born and raised in the Northern Virginia area. As diverse as this region is, it was nothing like it was in the past. Even though the neighborhood I grew up in was from a lower income status, due to the school district lines, I attended a high school that had a large white and high income status population. Most of the Latino students at my school didn’t seem all too motivated to continue their school work. I was one of the few Latino students who achieved good grades, all while having a job starting my junior year. Unfortunately, I was known as being “too white” for the students of color, but I also couldn’t connect to the minority students either. It was tough having to fit in. Having my own friends crack jokes, I’d shrug it off. Nonetheless, graduation was a blessing to say the least, and attending George Mason University was the perfect fit to break out of the mold.

Attending GMU was a breath of fresh air; seeing the diversity of cultures and beliefs between students, faculty, and staff made me want to get heavily involved. I became very active with the Latino organizations on campus, including leadership positions within the Hispanic Student Association, being a founding member of the Aguilas Mentoring Program, and being an Hermano of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Inc. In addition, I also got involved with working within our student involvement programming board, outside of campus as a tutor for high school students, and had two internships during my undergraduate career. I enjoyed being involved, to say the least.

Currently, I am at an internship in Washington, DC that continues my interested career path, working as a writer for a blog that serves as a news source for Latino audiences, as well as working as a social media assistant within the Latino division of the company. It’s strange to say if I feel like I achieved success. If anyone were to ask me, I feel like I have a long way to go to feel successful. However, looking back and reflecting, I can definitely say I’ve been successful in my past goals. There are thousands of Latino students who struggle to obtain a high school degree, and I got it easily. Thousands of Latino students dream to just be accepted into a university, and I finished within four years. And there are thousands of Latino graduates who struggle to find a job in their interested career path, and I’ve at least got a head start. It’s strange to say if I feel successful at the present, but I know looking at my past, I’ve achieved the dream my parents had for me when they came to this country from El Salvador at such a young age.

To be successful as a Latino in America, one has to struggle. One would never know their strengths if they don’t experience their weaknesses. To be successful as a Latino in America, one has to sacrifice. There are no easy paths or easy ways out, but through the sacrifice comes the potential. To be successful as a Latino in America, one has to be determined and persistent. Our parents, grandparents, and older relatives came to the United States with less experience and more to lose than our current generation do. To be successful as a Latino in America, we have to be the voice of change. America is shifting to our favor, and we as Latinos have to show everyone that we are the perfect example to the American dream.

Cristian Pineda is a recent graduate from George Mason University with a degree in Communication and minors in Film & Media Studies and Business. He is currently interning in Washington D.C. for the Dewey Square Group managing the La Plaza blog and assisting with social media for the Latinovations department. He is a member of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity, Incorporated, and is passionate with the progress of providing access to higher education for Latino students. Cristian enjoys analyzing and reading on current media events, and hopes to one day achieve a ‘Director of Marketing’ position for a media company.