Every year, from September 15 through October 15, Hispanic Heritage month in the United States honors and celebrates the many contributions of Hispanic Americans to our nation. On Tuesday, September 17, the Middle School kicked off Lovett’s month-long celebration during Assembly with a visit from award-winning journalist Mariela Romero, who provided a unique perspective through her journey as a Hispanic American.
Romero, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, has made her mark in the Atlanta community and beyond. She is a distinguished and highly recognized journalist who has received 23 Emmy Awards from the Academy of Television Arts - Southeast region and was named one of the “50 most influential Latinos in Georgia” by the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She has interviewed distinguished public figures such as former President and Nobel Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter, Civil Rights leader, Presidential Medal of Freedom Award recipient Reverend C.T. Vivian, American Labor Leader Dolores Huerta, and Dr. Bernice King among others.
Romero spoke to students of the importance of cultural mastery in developing empathy and leading change. Much like the curriculum taught in Global Issues in 7th grade and Civics in 8th grade, knowing what is happening around the world and connecting with others through their stories is critical to seeking solutions to real world problems.
“If you have cultural skills, you are going to be able to succeed in a world that is very competitive. In this 21st century, it is not enough to have a degree. We are working in a more diverse world, in a global economy, and the more you understand different cultures the better prepared you are going to be. Cultural mastery and empathy allow you to grow your influence as a business person in whichever career you choose,” said Romero.
To achieve this, Romero spoke of key steps to be taken: When you want to engage with a culture that is different from yours and reach a community you don’t know, first, educate yourself. Learn all you can about the culture, its food, music, language and beliefs. Understanding a culture allows you to walk in another person’s shoes and, thus, develop empathy. When you truly connect, you are empowered to seek change for the better.
Romero also spoke of her journey as a journalist, noting that her first-ever journalistic assignment occurred on September 11, 2001. On air, her job was to state facts and assess public knowledge. When she arrived home and was able to experience the news as a viewer, she cried at the horror and gravity of what transpired that day. Covering events such as the war in Iraq and Afghanistan made her question her career choice and led her to take time off from being a journalist. She then worked as an interpreter for seven years. During that time, it was through the stories of those in the Latino community that she developed empathy.
“My role at Univision today allows me to work with organizations that are working to make this a better world,” said Romero. “This is why I serve on so many boards. On some I represent the voice of a community that is not heard. On others, my position allows me to bring to light the work and efforts of the organizations. It enables me the power to recognize people that are contributing positively, and that gives me a lot of satisfaction,” she added.
Romero holds a degree in Journalism from Universidad Católica Argentina as well as a degree in Social Communications from Universidad del Belgrano and has studied TV Broadcasting and Production at Buenos Aires Centro de Estudios de la Comunicación. She is currently the Regional Community Empowerment Director for Philadelphia, Raleigh and Atlanta for Univision Communications.