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“Wow you’re so fearless” is a phrase many of us have heard whether it be when we speak about our Latinx families’ journeys, experiences, or lives in general. As a Latinx community maybe you haven’t all heard this; however, this is a sentence many of us have and can relate to. As you continue to read about our amazing keynote speaker, I ask you to keep this quote in the back of your mind as I will return to it.

Last Wednesday, in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month, we were honored to welcome Laurie Hernandez, a two-time Olympic Gymnast Medalist and Puerto Rican powerhouse to our campus. Before I mention her extensive list of amazing accomplishments, I want to instead highlight what she means for many of us including myself. As a Latinx woman, specifically a Boricua who also grew up in the United States, Hernandez represents breaking barriers, stereotypes, and achieving the utmost success. Her connection to her roots and family, ground not only her but the millions of Latinx children who watch her as well. Her humble nature, bubbly personality, and kind persona follows her everywhere and it is no surprise she has done so many great things. Nonetheless, Hernandez’s hard work, determination, and most importantly her bravery is what led her to become a world-renowned Olympian, author, keynote speaker, and now a drama student at New York University.

“Fearless, a word I honestly hate. It makes me want to crawl out of my skin because it’s not true,” Hernandez said. As many of us have grown up watching her succeed, we often carry the misconception that success and fearlessness go hand in hand; however, that is not the case. During her speech, Hernandez spoke about changing the narrative and connection between success and being fearless, instead we are “brave.” Her unique insight on mental health and her own journey to the top was something, especially as college students, we needed to hear and be reminded of. Not to mention her emphasis on the importance of having a strong support system. It is another reminder that we are never alone and whether it be from our biological, adopted, or newly found communities of family, being supported and seen matters. I honestly cannot thank Hernandez enough for her words of affirmation and for opening her arms to all of us during her time here. We know she will continue to shine wherever she goes and cannot wait to continue supporting her from the sidelines. Gracias Laurie y bienvenida a nuestra familia!