Silicon Valley Latino launches Inspire Higher Tour 2015


We are excited to announce that tomorrow (Jan. 23rd), Silicon Valley Latino launches its Inspire Higher Tour at the Luis Valdez Leadership Academy in San Jose!

Thank you Cisco for your sponsorship as well as for your continued support and thank you Luis Valdez Leadership Academy for being the first stop on our tour!

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About Luis Valdez Leadership Academy:

Mission and Vision
Luis Valdez Leadership Academy (LVLA) is committed to providing a rigorous academic program designed to instill a lifelong passion for learning and to equip students with the skills for social and academic success at four year colleges, universities and local community colleges. Through an emphasis on visual and performing arts, digital media and culturally sustaining pedagogy, LVLA will graduate empowered young adults who are poised, confident, and articulate leaders. Through a focus on the Spanish language, for both native speakers and learners, LVLA students will use their education, bi-literacy and life experiences to create positive change in their own lives, families and within their communities. Through leadership, excellence, responsibility and resilience, our graduates will make a positive impact on the East San Jose community and beyond.

Luis Valdez Leadership Academy (LVLA) se compromete a proporcionar un programa académico riguroso diseñado para inculcar una pasión de por vida para el aprendizaje y para equipar a los estudiantes con las habilidades para el éxito social y académico en las universidades y colegios de cuatro años y los colegios comunitarios locales. A través de un énfasis en las artes visuales y escénicas, medios digitales y la pedagogía culturalmente sostenible, LVLA graduará a jóvenes empoderados que son líderes listos, confiados y bien expresados. A través de un enfoque en el idioma español, tanto para hablantes nativos y aprendices, los estudiantes de LVLA usarán su educación, bi-alfabetización y experiencias de vida para crear un cambio positivo en sus vidas propias, de sus familias, y de sus comunidades. A través del liderazgo, la excelencia, la responsabilidad y la capacidad de recuperación, nuestros egresados ​​tendrán un impacto positivo en la comunidad del Este de San José y más allá.


About Silicon Valley Latino:

Silicon Valley Latino is the premiere media company in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay Area that educates, inspires and engages the Latino community through its media platforms and events by showcasing the Latino and Latina experience.
Silicon Valley Latino is committed to CELEBRATE the stories of successful Latinas and Latinos, to CHALLENGE perceptions and INSPIRE new generations of Latino heroes.

Five ways to make college admissions less stressful and achieve better outcomes


Within my experience in college admissions, I have observed parents who use different approaches with their children when applying to college. These range from hijacking the process, to opposing their child’s decision to apply to some or even any colleges, to making it more difficult due to cultural beliefs, to being incredibly joyful and supportive about the entire journey. I promise you that the best approach is almost always for the parents to become the head cheerleaders and let the student manage and own the process.

Here are my top five tips:


  • We live in the land of opportunity, right? So when parents feel that their child can only follow one admission pathway to graduate from selective state and national universities, that’s a mistake. Students can absolutely start at a community college and transfer to a 4-year institution; they can take a gap year – an extra year between the end of high school and the start of college, an option that is becoming increasingly popular; or students can attend a less famous school because that is the place that is the best fit for them. Don’t get wrapped up in what the rest of your community is doing. This will only make you a prisoner of pressure and rumor. Rather talk with your child and find out what they need to plan the most enjoyable and effective route to college.



Start Grande! When you are starting the admissions process, research and visit colleges without prejudging whether the school is either a good brand name or a decent fit. You can start with a big list, but the easiest and least expensive opportunity is to visit colleges in our Bay Area backyard; between San Jose State, UC Berkeley, Santa Clara, Notre Dame de Namur, and USF, you’ll get a terrific sense of the array of possibilities that lie before you. Once you have visited our local schools, you can start exploring out of state colleges (which in many cases could lead to your child qualifying for more financial aid). You can take advantage of any    family trips (with or without your child) to visit new colleges. A new city provides you with exploration opportunities. Once the research and the visits are over, your child can make a list of all of the elements that she is seeking in her top choice college and a more comprehensive search can begin. Your goal is to have a college list in place by the end of junior year.


  • ¡Si se puede! Instead of focusing on the admit rate of any particular university, think of the possibilities offered by any college and share that positive attitude with your child! If he sees that you strongly believe in his abilities, then his application will be powerful and confident. When she notices that her parents have enormous faith in her eventual outcome, she’ll put together the best possible list and be excited about any of the schools who admit her. This is how you get great results with maximum joy.


  • ¡Cálmate! During the application process, try not to get overwhelmed. If it’s all feeling too crazy, make an appointment with your high school counselor and explore a plan to better manage the application process. Remember, your high school counselor is your best ally and she can offer a wealth of information. She may also have information about when your college representatives will be visiting your high school. This can be a great way for your child to learn more.


¡Pachanga time! Any moment that your child has shown interest in particular school or has researched something related to the admission process, celebrate the small milestone. Every acknowledged accomplishment will instill confidence in the entire family. I have seen this truth thousands of times, and since we Latinos do like our pachangas, you can plan the appropriate celebration on, or before May 1st – the national enrollment deadline for incoming freshmen.



Now that you are prepared to create your child’s personalized college pathway, remember to keep a positive attitude. Don’t get discouraged and trust that your child will find the best college fit.

Share with the community your experiences on the college admissions process.


For more info contact Marisela Gomez at



Voto Latino Power Summit Engages Millennials in San Jose

Last weekend downtown San Jose had a little bit more Hollywood star power than usual with the arrival of the Voto Latino Power Summit. College students, educators, civic leaders, and business professionals attended the two-day event to hear distinguished panelists discuss the power of the Latino vote.

Co-founded by actor and activist Rosario Dawson and led by Maria Teresa Kumar, Voto Latino is a non-partisan organization from D.C. that aims to inspire English-speaking Latinos to become invested in the political process. Over the last ten years, the organization has creatively used the power of the media, Latino celebrities, mobile technology, and social media to register nearly a quarter-million voters. Now, Voto Latino has the support of entities such as PG & E, Southwest Airlines, The MacArthur Foundation, The Kapor Center for Social Impact, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation and of course Silicon Valley Latino.
Rosario Dawson-Voto Latino Power Summit San Jose

“It’s nice to be home,” said Kumar, a native of Sonoma County who is Voto Latino’s CEO and President. According to Kumar, it was important to include San Jose in the tour not only because the city is the hub of new technology, but also the home to a large Latino community. It was through her friendship with Assemblymember Nora Campos that Kumar realized bringing the Summit to San Jose would be “an opportunity for incredible change.”

Actor and Voto Latino Artist Coalition co-chair Wilmer Valderrama agreed by stating, “In order to empower this community, in order to empower our culture, we have to go where they live.” Valderrama added, “I feel like that’s the biggest issue that local government has is that they don’t bring the conversation where people are.”

What kind of conversation did the Voto Latino Power Summit bring to San Jose? The workshops and panels held at the San Jose State University campus tackled different topics—from how to build your own website to the dos and don’ts of networking. However, the main conversation that surfaced from all these different discussions was clear: Latino Millennials have the potential to enact change in this country and to be more than just sought-after consumers.

Indeed, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the U.S. Latino purchasing power is approaching $1.5 trillion this year. In 2010 it was $1 trillion. Companies and marketers are noticing this trend.

During a panel discussion, Dawson encouraged the Millennials in the audience to take that leap from being consumers to being creators. “What would you like to see yourself doing?” she asked them. “You’re not just consumers—you are innovators.”

A dynamic speaker, Dawson explained to the audience, “The next generation is going to be reading about you in our history books—the ones who created that thing, that promoted that thing, that changed the face of the world.”

When it comes to Silicon Valley’s tech industry, the sobering reality is that only seven percent of tech workers are African American or Latino (see Working Partnership USA report). This means that only a small percentage of underrepresented minorities are in the position to make decisions about new technology. It also means only a few Latinos are working in an industry where the average annual salary is $70k.

One way for Latino Millennials to change those statistics and to generally become more empowered is through the political process, said Assemblymember Nora Campos. “We need to encourage ourselves and our family members and others that we need to start seeing civic engagement as a must, not an option,” stated Campos.

Another way to enact change is through technology, which Latinos are quite comfortable using. According to Kumar, Latinos went to their mobile devices in 2006 to help bring together 2 million people to march peacefully for comprehensive immigration reform. They were “the first people in the world to organize using technology in our streets,” she said.

Voto Latino Power Summit San JoseState Senator Alex Padilla, who was on the same panel, concurred: “Latinos are diverse, we’re young, we’re old, we’re in the East Coast and West Coast. Our parents may not have email but we’re on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.”

And sometimes a young person can become empowered just by doing something as simple as networking. Indeed, one of the biggest aims of the Voto Latino Power Summit was to create opportunities for participants to share their stories, exchange information, and network with each other.

Sarahi Espinosa, a student from Cañada College in Redwood City, appreciated the panel on how to “schmooze.” Silicon Valley Latino founder, Alex Ontiveros, was delighted to have participated in that panel as he and the other panelists shared numerous insights on effective networking which include the use of social media platforms. Sarahi will start incorporating these tips soon as she plans to become a leader in local politics. She attended Voto Latino because she wanted to “network with the right people.”

“A lot of the times I feel that we take a super long way to try to get somewhere when we just could have gone straight,” said Espinosa before she left for the next panel.

While the Voto Latino Power Summit tour reached its conclusion in San Jose, it is clear that Kumar and her team will continue to engage and inspire the next generation of Latinos for years to come.

LIT College Tour/Conference – Silicon Valley


On Saturday May 3rd The Lit College Tour/Conference made its Silicon Valley stop at the San Jose State University campus where numerous professionals shared their backgrounds, insights and personal stories with local college students from the San Francisco Bay Area.  Special thanks goes out to the principal organizer and conference producer, Mario Cobian.  SVL had a great time covering this exciting and worthwhile event and SVL founder and CEO enjoyed participating as we panelist. Additionally, SVL 40 Under 40 Latinos2Watch honorees Jessica Ruvalcaba and Mia Perez also participated as panelists throughout the day. Students listened to various professional and experts talk about STEAM, Crowd Funding, Personal Branding, Marketing, Entertainment, Media and Entrepreneurship. SVL looks forward to partnering with the LIT College Tour when it returns to Silicon Valley next year!


LIT College Tour/Conference - Silicon Valley

On Saturday May 3rd The LIT College Tour/Conference made its Silicon Valley stop at the San Jose State University campus where numerous professionals shared their backgrounds, insights and personal stories with local college students from the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Cisco’s ERO Conexion & MESA partnership for students

On Friday, September 6th, 2013 Cisco’s Latino Employee Resource Organization (ERO), Conexion, had another first.  They partnered with an organization called MESA, Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement, here in San Jose.


MESA helps underprivileged college students in engineering majors by providing guidance & mentorship programs.  Conexion joined forces with MESA last spring and conducted a shadowing day at Cisco for 30 students who were then partnered with 30 Cisco mentors for a one year engagement.  One request that kept coming from the students was how to “get into Cisco”.



After a few conversations with Diversity Recruiting and University Recruiting, Conexion decided to host a recruiting day.  Conexion worked with the different business units to understand where the requisitions would be open and had the students apply ahead of time.



Anabelle Pinto, Director in Sports and Entertainment at Cisco, kicked off the day with some inspirational words to the students.  Cisco had 7 students interview for full time positions.  Two students interviewed for internships. Nine students, that do not yet qualify for either internships or full time positions, had mock interviews with Cisco employees.  The day ended with Rosie Cofre, ERO Strategic at Cisco, sharing her story about her challenges of growing up as a diverse person in the US.  It resonated well, and left everyone inspired!


This was the first time that an ERO was able to provide a diverse candidate pool to Cisco that resulted in interviews and hopefully in a few new hires for next summer!


About Conexion/MESA partnership:

Conexion sponsored the MESA Shadowing Day & Mentoring Journey originally on March 8th, 2013 at the San Jose Cisco offices. 

Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) is nationally recognized for its innovative and effective academic development program.  This particular program is a partnership between MESA and Cisco to provide shadowing and mentoring opportunities for MESA higher education students interested in pursuing careers in technology.  To kick-off their experience, thirty students spent a half-day at Cisco, learning more about their technologies and solutions, meeting their individual mentors, shadowing their jobs, and then reflecting on the experience.  Thirty Cisco mentors were recruited through our partnership with the Employee Resource Groups at Cisco. 

Informal mentoring relationships between MESA students and Cisco employees will continue for a period of one year, where they will meet monthly to discuss student areas of study and interest, review areas of focus for the Cisco employee, and engage in coaching and mentoring discussions. 

The Future Silicon Valley Latina Coders

It is an early Saturday morning as I am driving, with my daughters, to one of the greatest cities in the country if not the world, San Francisco, for what will be their first experience as computer programmers at the event “Build A Webpage – in a Day”. Coding is a modern science but also an art.

I recall the countless times as a youth driving into the city with my father to work in his art gallery on Maiden Lane. Learning the ins and outs of art and acquiring an eye, over many years, of how to appreciate good art.

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The significance of this event on this particular Saturday in May was that young Silicon Valley Latinas from all corners of the Valley & Bay Area were able to express and create their dreams via the modern canvas – The Computer screen! Step by step they were guided through the process of drawing their topic on paper first so that they could see how it would appear on their computer screen and then the coding began step by step. Their fingers gliding over the keyboards as a painter glides the brush across the canvas. The painter’s canvas in this case was the screen showing the coding on the wall with the master painter at the back of the class typing in the instructions for the girls to follow and learn.

We are about technology

As Giovanni Rodriguez wrote in Forbes not to long ago “while disparities in education (STEM) and employment exist, the conventional wisdom obscures the reality that Latinos are an emerging force in technology” and this first experience for these young Latinas in Build A Webpage – in a Day presented by Black Girls Code in partnership with Latino Startup Alliance, MEDASF & Google for Entrepreneurs demonstrates the hunger that Latinas in this case have to leave their mark on this industry.

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After learning to code the entire day these young ladies, 59 of them, were able to build their webpages on fashion, animals, dolls, etc. showing us their youth and at the same time learning how to create and bring to life, via their modern canvas, their dreams.

As I took pictures of these young artists keying code on their modern canvases I wondered if this is what it would have been like 70+ years ago when Frida Kahlo began leaving her mark in the art world and now it was these young Latinas turn to leave their mark on this wonderful Valley & City.

Globaloria- empowering youth through science


Jennifer Arguello: The Globey Awards


Avalos Foundation: Educational Scholarships

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An Innovative Educational Strategy

Take a moment to reflect on your middle & high school experience. The awkwardness, the peer pressure, the pains of growing up-although challenging- these experiences helped us develop resiliency. In our ever-changing world, the importance of strong, viable school communities cannot be denied. More and more research is showing that in order to be excellently prepared for a successful career and life in our global society, adolescents need to develop essential skills, such as: innovation, adaptability, critical analysis, cross-cultural communication, and teamwork.

At E3: Education, Excellence & Equity, this is the skill set they are instilling within middle and high school students via three strengths-based approaches: professional development for educators, innovative tools for effective student engagement, and a leadership development program for the most at-risk students, which includes educational outings and a multi-media project. Their consistent results each year are remarkable: 90% of teachers report that student engagement increases in their classroom, students increase their G.P.A.’s while decreasing their suspension & absence rates.

What is truly innovative about E3 is the focus on an interactive strengths-based approach, in which the competencies students have gained from their diverse life experiences are recognized and matched to the correlating 21st century skills. This shift in paradigm boosts students’ self-esteem and confidence. Once their resiliency is highlighted and they realize the value & interdependency of their lived & learned experiences, students are able to reach academic success. By using technology to guide students through a digital story project, they not only gain multi-media skills, but also the understanding of how resiliency can help us succeed in both social and academic situations.

*E3 imagines a future where educators embrace the lived and learned experiences of each student, and value the strengths that each child brings into the classroom.  In this future, all children achieve academic success, graduate from high school, and have the skills required for their next steps in an ever-changing world.

For more information, please visit: and contact us at: