Alicia Vazquez 05 May 2022 // 2:58AM GMT
When my abuelita (dear grandma) asks what my job is, it’s difficult to explain that public relations is about telling stories and even more difficult to explain the impact these stories can have in the world.
It’s not that I don’t know how to explain it, but rather that I don’t know how to explain it to my abuelita – an elder, Latina woman whose daily work required hours of manual labor. Literally. She grew up in a small town in Mexico where she used to have to walk down to the river to do laundry and, once washed, would carry the now heavier load of wet laundry back to her house to dry.
My abuelita does not use computers nor smartphones, which is why trying to explain that I can do all my work online is difficult. Yet, when I think of my role as a Latina woman in communications, my abuelita’s strength and resilience are what drive me toward helping the industry become more inclusive.
I was honored to have been selected as WE’s first juror for the inaugural Young Changemakers Award. I’m privileged to have grown up supported by women who allowed me to dream despite being unfamiliar with my aspirations. As a Latina woman in PR, participating as a juror for the Young Changemaker Award was incredibly important both personally and professionally.
I believe the stories by and of historically marginalized voices have the power to create much-needed change. This was an opportunity to pay it forward, to empower women to find their purpose and to advance the communications field to be a more equitable profession.
As part of my juror duties, I reviewed finalists’ submissions which gave me the unique opportunity to glimpse into the work of fellow women in communications. Every submission was inspiring. I was in awe of the work they presented, not because it was hard to believe what they had done but because I admired the tenacity with which they pursued their work and their efforts to uplift more women of color. They all reinforced the fact that we each have a responsibility to make the communications industry more inclusive for people of color – and those collective efforts are what will make a difference.
When Mubashira Farooqi was announced as the winner at PRovoke Media’s Innovation SABRE Awards, I was humbled, encouraged and hopeful by the possibilities that we as women can create for each other.
I know from my own lived experience that for women of color, it can seem difficult to envision a clear path forward in our careers. However, when you’re part of an organization that understands these challenges and creates opportunities, and when you have a network of colleagues and mentors who motivate you to grow, the path becomes clearer.
There’s a lot of pride in being the “first” to do anything but, as people say, it also gives us the responsibility of reaching back and bringing more women along with us. I will strive to continue to do this, and maybe the next time my abuelita asks me what I do for work, it will be easier to explain: Soy narradora de historias y también estoy elevando a la nueva generación de mujeres comunicadoras. (I’m a storyteller and I’m also uplifting the new generation of women communicators.)
Alicia Vazquez is senior account executive, technology, at WE Communications.