Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Staff Spotlight- Marisol Guzman

Staff Spotlight- Marisol Guzman

Marisol began working with Latinitas as a Public Relations Intern in the Fall of 2009. Volunteering as an intern, allowed her to get a feel for the hard, yet vital work that goes behind Latinitas’ enriching programs and made her understand the importance of helping and empowering Latina youth. Since then Marisol has received a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Texas at El Paso and has continued on board Latinitas’ mission as the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. She is fulfilling this position through the AmeriCorps VISTA program and is responsible for creating club curriculum along with training and coordinating club leaders and volunteers.

Intern Spotlight-Marcela Aguirre

Intern Spotlight- Marcela Aguirre

Marcela Aguirre is a senior Communication Studies major and French minor at UTEP. She is currently working as a Public Relations Intern for Latinitas. Marcela is currently involved in various honor societies, the National Communication Student Association Student Club, the Brazilian Culture Center, and Catholic Campus Ministry at UTEP.  As part of her extracurricular activites, Marcela enjoys dancing ballet, reading, tutoring young children, attending sporting events/concerts, and learning new languages. She decided to intern with Latinitas because she really likes the mission statement of Latinitas and because she wants to gain the experience of working in public relations for a non-profit organization. Marcela thinks that  an organization like Latinitas is important because she thinks that "it is important for young girls to be encouraged to be creative and to be encouraged to fulfill their dreams and desires." Marcela's future goals are to obtain a double master's degree in International Relations and Global Communication and eventually work in public relations for the United Nations or for a NGO.  

Member Spotlight- Elizabeth Gonzalez

Member Spotlight: Elizabeth Gonzalez

Elizabeth (Liz) Gonzalez is a member of the Teen Leadership Institute. Liz's involvement with this institute motivated her to take on a bigger role with Latinitas. She is now currently working as an Editorial Intern. Liz loves to dedicate her to time with Latinitas making her one of the most involved members. We decided to interview Liz to know what she has to say about her involvement with Latinitas.

What is your role with Latinitas?
Well I am a teen writer, I am part of the leadership and have attended one of the spring camps and also interned in the summer.

How did you become interested in Latinitas?
I think I was seeking for journalism opportunities in El Paso online and I found out about Latinitas.

What do you like the most about being a part of Latinitas?
The atmosphere in Latinitas allows young women to open up and discuss about wide issues, something you might not get, in my experience in other situations working and interacting with other groups, Latinitas are very much alike and have similar ideas about society.

What has been your most rewarding experience with Latinitas?
Definitely volunteering with them has made me learn about social issues that face Latina Women and being a role model toward young middle school girls is beyond rewarding. I am most thankful for just having the opportunity to be part of them.

What have you learned as a result of joining Latinitas?
I have learned about leadership, women empowerment and how to become a influential role model in the community, It has made me more aware of the social change we can take part of instead of you know sitting home on a Saturday doing nothing, there are so many ways you can dedicate your time to. I have learned more about what I want to become in life and how I can create change towards issues I feel strongly about.

How has Latinitas helped you? How have you benefited from your involvement?
I think the creators really do a phenomenal job, I can only think of ways they have helped me endlessly, Latinitas truly has opened up my journalism experience. I applied to the Princeton Summer Journalism and was accepted, It was a not only a beyond thrilling educational experience but I was able to interact with other students and professionals who share the love for journalism. Alicia also helped me apply for the Texas Women's Conference in Houston and that was another amazing opportunity I was able to take part of. Latinitas has taught me how to become a better writer and I learn every day, It allows me to blog about my thoughts and opinions and some place were I can simply express myself. I think it has benefited me in every aspect of my education and goals I have, and changed my perspective of the impact I want to do in life.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future? Any specific goals?
I plan to study English and or political science at a four year college. (Hopefully the college of my dreams) But I really want to broaden my horizons in the East Coast. Write for the paper at the college and really soak up everything I can in college by internships, clubs/groups etc. And then become a awesome journalist! It would be beyond amazing to see myself write for the New York Times, but I think most importantly in my time in El Paso really push for academic change in the minds of students, and who knows, maybe I'll be working for a non-profit group like Latinitas (fingers crossed) The point of all of this is to take what I learned from Latinitas and apply that in my future.

Donor Spotlight- Ayer Photography

Luis Rodriguez, owner of Ayer Photography, donated his services to Latinitas this past August. He provided Latinitas with a photo shoot for 3 teens who won a back-to-school makeover and photo shoot through an essay contest. We interviewed Luis to see what he has to say about Latinitas.

How did you hear about Latinitas?
I heard about Latinitas because of a contest for empowering woman in which they had a professional make-up session, followed by a professional photo session. I was asked to be the photographer for this contest.

What made you decide to become a supporter for Latinitas?
I try and involve myself with the community as much as possible. By doing this shoot, I feel I'm involved in something greater than I.

What has been your contribution as a donor? 
As a donor I've contributed with a complimentary photo session for three Latinitas and a premium lustre 8x10 photo print of the best shot for each model.

What do you like the most about Latinitas?
I like the fact it expands beyond El Paso, including a strong presence in the Austin / San Antonio area.

Why do you think it is important for our community to have an organization like Latinitas?
I believe it is important to have programs to help elevate the confidence in young latina woman so they could be better prepared to handle obstacles in the future.

As your final remark, is there anything specific that you would like to say about Latinitas?
I just want to thank everyone responsible for choosing me as a donor. I appreciate the gesture, and I am here to help in the future if need be.

Teen Latinitas Fest

Latinitas helped girls ages 13 and up bring out their creative side with the Teen Latinitas Fest on Saturday, November 13 at KOI Studio Productions. This workshop provided hands-on training with photography, audio recording, graphic design, film making, and poetry.  Staff and Volunteers from KOI Studio Productions and Latinitas partnered to provide this free training workshop for young teens so that they could gain knowledge in digital technology. It also helped the girls develop their self-esteem and cultural pride while learning and having fun. This is the second year that Latinitas has partnered with KOI Studio Productions to provide this fun and engaging workshop for the community of young girls in El Paso.

December 2010: Upcoming Events


What: Winter Wonderland Fashion Show Fundraiser
When: December 10, 2010
Time: 11:00-2:00 pm
Where: Camino Real Hotel Ballroom
Order Tickets Online:

What: Latinitas Teen Writing Workshop
When: December 11, 2010
Time: 3:00-4:00 pm
Where: Judge Marquez Public Library (610 N. Yarbrough)
Grades 9th-12th

What: Latinitas Saturday Camp
When: December 11, 2010
Time: 1:00-3:00 pm
Where: Judge Marquez Public Library (610 N. Yarbrough)
Grades 4th-8th

What: Alliance for Latinitas Meeting-Volunteer Orientation
When: December 13, 2010
Time: 5:30-6:30 pm
Where: Latinitas El Paso Headquarters (1359 Lomaland)

Donor Spotlight: Klothes Lime

Donor Spotlight: Klothes Lime

On November 13, Angela Sustaita, who is the owner of Klothes Lime Buy-Sell-Trade Fashion, helped Latinitas through a fundraiser at her store.  For this fundraiser, 50 percent of the proceeds went towards Latinitas' girl empowerment programs and scholarships. Because of Angela's positive contribution to Latinitas, we decided to interview her. Here's the interview with Angela:

How did you hear about Latinitas?
I had the pleasure of working with Alicia and the organization at my past employment at the Nonprofit Enterprise Center.

What made you decide to become a supporter for Latinitas?  
My office was a few doors down from the Latinitas' offices. I saw the organization at work first-hand on a daily basis. I was impressed how the organization leverages their interns and volunteers so efficiently and takes advantages of programs available throughout the community. The organization operates in an efficient manner and I knew that although my donations may not be considered substantial gifts, the dollars will go a long way.
What has been your contribution as a donor?
As I was starting my business, my first business expense was a donation to Latinitas. It was a symbol of support to come as well as a blessing for my new venture. On Saturday, November 13, Klothes Lime hosted a benefit shopping day for Latinitas, half of the proceeds for the entire day were donated to the organization.

What do you like the most about Latinitas?  
I love the that the organization is constantly seeking new partners and new avenues to gain support.
Why do you think it is important for our community to have an organization like Latinitas?
As a Latina women, I know that I would have greatly benefited from an organization like Latinitas. Growing up, as any other young adult, I dealt with insecurities and the negative pressures that surround us. It is important to empower our youth and bring positive experiences into their lives that will encourage them to be strong, active citizens in our community.
As your final remark, is there anything specific that you would like to say about Latinitas?
El Paso is privileged to have a chapter of the organization in our community. Alicia and the Latinitas team are dedicated and hard-working individuals with a passion to make El Paso a better community. It is vital that we support the efforts of individuals like this because they are hard to come by.

Member Spotlight: Stephanie Clark

Member Spotlight: Stephanie Clark

Stephanie Clark is a senior at Americas High School. She is currently working as a Teen Reporter for Latinitas. Stephanie is involved with her school newspaper and yearbook. She also takes part in student council, the Key Club, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and Phi Chi which is an honor society for students in forensic sciences. Stephanie decided to intern with Latinitas after her exciting experience with Latinitas' camp this past summer. She believes that through this internship she can be a leader towards younger girls. Stephanie thinks that a program like Latinitas "is important for young girls, because as young girls there are times where we become very absorbed in society, and we become molds that society has created for in place of who we truly are. Latinitas puts girls back on the track of self discovery as young girls learn how to be beautiful in their own skin, stand up for what they believe in, learn to do what's right and so much more. It's extremely important for girls to have this form of representation." Her future goals are to graduate from high school and go to El Paso Community College to earn an associate's degree. She then plans to transfer to Texas Christian University to obtain a bachelor's degree in Communications. She also wants to get a master's degree in Communications at the same university. Stephanie would like to work as an anchor or reporter during her college years.

Meet Latinitas Intern: Melissa Espejo

Meet Latinitas Intern: Melissa Espejo
Melissa Espejo graduated from UTEP with a double major in Marketing and International Business. She is currently working as a Marketing/Advertising Intern for Latinitas. Melissa enjoys reading, going to the movies, playing sports, and learning new languages. She is also currently working as a cheerleading coach for middle and high school girls. Melissa decided to intern for Latinitas because she wants to develop her professional skills while volunteering for a non-profit organization. She thinks that an organization like Latinitas is important because she thinks that " youth in general need positive guidance while their personalities are being formed. They need positive role models to serve as an example to them and positive activities to get involved with." Melissa's future goals are to get a master's degree in Marketing, which she plans to study overseas. Her overall goal is to make a difference in society.

Meet Latinitas Club Leader: Jasmin Palomo

Meet Latinitas Club Leader: Jasmin Palomo

Jasmin Palomo is a Media Advertising undergraduate student. She is currently working as a Club Leader with Latinitas. Through her positive leadership with Latinitas, Jasmin has become a role model for the girls. We decided to interview Jasmin to learn more about her interest for Latinitas. 
How did you become interested in Latinitas?  I was impressed with the kind of work the organization deals with. 
What do you like most about Latinitas?
That it makes girls proud to be who they are and that it helps them to be proud to be Latina..
Why do you think an organization like Latinitas is important for young girls? 
Girls need positive role models, creative outlets, and something productive to occupy their time. This is beneficial for any girl. 

Winter Wonderland Fundraiser

Snowflakes, Christmas trees, and hot chocolate are some things that come to mind as winter gets closer. However, fashion should also come to mind as the Winter Wonderland Fundraiser gets closer. On December 10, Su Voz Latina Magazine will be hosting a fashion show at the Camino Real Hotel to benefit  Latinitas.  The event will take place from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and it will feature designs from local fashion boutiques. The idea behind this fashion show is not only to help local female business leaders get exposure and network, but to help support Latinitas' vision and mission statement; which is to empower Latina youth. Businesses can purchase a vendor booth that includes 2 tickets or they can just purchase the tickets separately. It must be noted that Su Voz Latina Magazine chose Latinitas among a large pool of candidates to sponsor them through a fundraiser.  As a result, the magazine created this fashion show in which all proceeds will go directly to help Latinitas' girl empowerment programs and scholarships.  Don't forget to mark your calendars to attend the Winter Wonderland Fashion Show in December!
Tickets can be purchased at

Friday, October 1, 2010

Latinitas On Radio Bilingue - 8/31

YOUTH VOICES ON THE WEB. It’s not often that you read or hear Latino youth voices in mainstream media. Two different projects, in El Paso, Texas, and Chicago, IL, empower Latino teens to write their own stories and put them on the web. In El Paso, Latinitas is the first digital magazine made for and by Latina youth. In Chicago, a group of Latino immigrant youth are creating theater productions and radionovelas that they upload to the internet to help their communities make better health decisions.
Guests: Marisol Guzmán, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, Latinitas, El Paso, TX, ; Eliana Grijalva, Reporter, Latinitas, El Paso, TX, ; Ireri Unzueta, Member, Salud: Healing Through the Arts, Chicago, IL, ; Adriana Velásquez, Member, Salud: Healing Through the Arts, Chicago, IL,
Listen to the interview on-line:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Youth Take Lead in Drive to Change Our World

El Paso Times
By Ouisa D. Davis
Posted: 03/19/2010

We say that the future is in the hands of our youth; that is even more the case in the current age of technology and human advancement. Some of the most pressing problems of our world and our community can be identified and addressed with the eyes of the young; eyes that are clear and bright and optimistic.

Each year, Global Youth Service Day celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youths who improve their communities each day through service and service-learning. April 23-25 will be the global celebration of youth changing the world.

Established in 1988, GYSD is the largest service event in the world and is celebrated in more than 100 countries. Targeted toward children and youths between 5 and 25 years old, the world's most critical issues will be addressed by the young in partnership with families, schools, community and faith-based organizations, businesses and governments.

The goals of the campaign are to mobilize youths to identify issues in their communities and develop solutions, to encourage organizations to provide for youth involvement and volunteer opportunities, to encourage media and policy-makers to promote and enable the young to become assets and resources in their communities. In this way, our young people begin a lifelong adventure of service and civic engagement.

Schools and civic organizations are eligible for funding, training and technical support to effectively engage in issue-development, critical analysis and planning to improve our community.

Each year, millions of young people in more than 100 countries participate in GYSD. In 2009, more than 1,200 El Paso youths from local high schools, colleges and community groups participated in GYSD by recycling e-waste, planting trees, giving food to the homeless, and cleaning up parks and graffiti around town.

More than 320 projects are already planned in the U.S., 17 in Texas alone. The United Way of El Paso County spearheads the Global Youth Service Day activities in our community.

One project is Latinitas' Amigas in Action, a service-learning project gathering girls and young women into after-school study groups to identify community needs, develop programs to address those needs and create media projects. Utilizing writing, photography, desktop publishing, graphic art, Web design, filmmaking and audio production, these volunteers will develop multimedia campaigns to raise community awareness and complete written, photo, art, film, online or audio projects distributed online, at schools and to the media.

Across the nation, young people are dreaming community gardens and parks, revitalizing neighborhoods, organizing 3K runs, developing campaigns to fight childhood obesity, planning to promote environmental initiatives and working with local governments to develop policy. One high-school group plans a day-long music fest, featuring youth bands, to raise money and awareness for their year-long project.

It is a good thing to challenge and include our youth in long-term planning for our community; after all, it is their world that they save. And community service activities are always required on college applications.

To register an event, serve on the Global Youth Service Day Coalition, or to participate in a project, contact Nicholas Fernandez at or at (915) 999-1468.

Ouisa D. Davis is an attorney at law in El Paso. E-mail:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Leadership institute gives young women step up

By Pink Rivera / El Paso Times

EL PASO -- Latinitas will open its first leadership institute this week in the hope of giving women a stronger voice in the community.

According to its Web site, Latinitas is a nonprofit organization "focused on informing, entertaining and inspiring young Latinas to grow into healthy, confident and successful adults." Its digital magazines are made for and by Latina youth.

The leadership institute will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the organization's headquarters at 1359 Lomaland.

"The girls will attend monthly workshops on leadership methods, decision-making skills, goal setting, public speaking, civic engagement and volunteering," said Alicia Rascon, Latinitas director and co-founder. "I definitely think young women now understand

Daniela Gonzales, left, is from Americas High School and Alexandria Villegas is from Eastwood High School. Both are Latinitas participants.
the leadership roles and our goals are to help them reach their potential and realize their abilities."

The participants will attend monthly classes, go on field trips, meet positive woman role models, learn about their cultural heritage, build confidence and explore their own strengths through exercises and activities, organization officials said.

"We want to help them identify and cultivate their own leadership abilities," Rascon said. "The national levels for the Latino community are very high for dropout, suicide and teen pregnancy rates. We want these young women to overcome those challenges and become agents of change."

Membership is open to female Hispanic high-school students, but space was limited to a group of no more than

30. Rascon said the students will benefit more by working in smaller groups.

"With a small group, the girls can get to know each other and work better," Rascon said. "We can focus and work with these girls to be more involved in their community." Rascon said the students will complete 20 hours of community service and two service projects.

"I am excited for this institute, because growing up, there wasn't a lot of opportunities for leadership," Rascon said. "I'm glad to offer this to girls now."

Pink Rivera may be reached at; 546-6156.

Make plans
  • What:"Latinitas leadership institute kickoff event.
  • When:"9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
  • Where:"Latinitas headquarters, 1359 Lomaland, Suite 502.
  • Information:"Alicia Rascon, 239-5051 or alicia@latinitasmagazine. org or visit
  • E-zine connects young Latinas worldwide

    What's Up El Paso Magazine
    By Mia R. Cortez
    Posted February 3, 2010

    El Paso teens Eliana Grijalva, Sara Elizabeth Sanchez and Zyanya Dickey are aspiring journalists. They plan on pursuing degrees in journalism after graduation and are getting their feet wet now by writing for Latinitas, an e-zine founded in Austin in 2002 by Alicia Rascon and Laura Donnelly-Gonzalez.

    “There’s not much stuff for journalism in El Paso and I thought it was cool that the magazine gives you a chance, so I got involved,” said Grijalva, 16, a student at the Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts. “I never had any real experience in journalistic writing, but I’ve since learned how to interview, meet people I would never get to meet before and get my name out there as a writer.”

    Grijalva is part of Teen Latinitas Council, a group of about 15 girls that meets once a month to discuss articles and blog postings on On the site, writers post articles in six general sections: 411, Fun, Latina Beat, Your View, Real Life and Her Story. Subcategories include beauty, body, money, technology, entertainment, culture, geography and “Mi Barrio.”

    First of its kind started as a class project by then-UT Austin students Rascon and Gonzalez.

    “At the time we felt there was a lack of media that affected young Latinas,” said Rascon, co-founder and CEO of Latinitas, Inc. “We met with a youth advisory board and received feedback that girls were not feeling represented in their community. The publications ‘Hispanic’ and ‘Latina’ targeted an adult audience; there wasn’t anything specifically for young Latinas. So after the class, we continued on with the project – it was the first of its kind.”

    Rascon and Gonzalez also hoped to inspire and mentor young Latinas.

    “I was a Chicano Studies minor, and I knew that Hispanics have the highest teen pregnancy rate and lowest high school completion rate,” Rascon said. “We wanted to give them advice as to how to overcome (statistics) and use media as a tool for empowerment.”

    Volunteer hours pay off
    Latinitas is a nonprofit that thrives on grants, community donations and volunteers.

    “The first year, we were able to start the website and pay for our domain with a benefit concert,” Rascon said. “All the writing, editing, designing was done by volunteers.”

    For six years in Austin, the site was maintained by hard-working volunteers. Rascon moved back to El Paso in 2008 and started up a Latinitas community in her hometown. Gonzalez still heads the Latinitas community in Austin.

    Now the organization brings in $150,000 annually, Rascon said. About 25 percent goes to maintaining the website, and a large part of their funding goes to educational programs, but they are able to offer some staff and paid internship positions. receives about 30,000 hits a month and works with 3,500 middle and high school girls in the publication process – they write articles, take photos and edit. Their reach extends beyond Austin and El Paso to three other Texas cities, plus Las Cruces and Silver City. They were recently featured in an article in Spain and have received letters from Latinas around the world.

    In November, Rascon was one of four recipients chosen nationally to receive a new Latina Rising Star award from the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) at the organization’s annual conference.

    “Our goal is to serve more girls in more areas regionally,” Rascon said. “We would like to start a print edition; we’re wanting to make our content more accessible to girls who may not be able to access our site online.”

    Invaluable experience
    “It’s been really exciting to be able to start pursuing what I want to do so young,” said 17-year-old Zyanya Dickey, a student at Mission Early College High School in Horizon. “I got involved because I thought it was great that they allow teenagers and young adults to join their community.”

    Dickey is interested in pursuing a career in magazine or radio. She currently helps edit stories for the Latinitas site.

    “Editing is fun – reading other people’s work, you see different perspectives and ideas, but it’s a teaching experience as well,” Dickey said. “And writing is one of the most important means of expression, no matter what language you speak. There’s so many possibilities, it’s really fun.”

    Sara Elizabeth Sanchez, a 17-year-old student at Loretto High School says her dream is to write for Newsweek Magazine or a leading newspaper such as the Washington Post.

    Last summer, she participated in a Latinitas journalism internship and has continued to write for the e-zine.

    “It has definitely improved my journalistic writing style and it has inspired me to speak and write what’s on my mind,” Sanchez said.

    To learn more about Latinitas and the local programs offered, visit

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Notes from Alumni

    Latinitas made me feel proud of my culture, something I had been waiting for since I was a girl. I am now studying at LBJ’s Math and Science academy with plans to be a doctor. I know Latinitas has made me a more confident person.”

    Denise Riojas, age 16

    I want to work in magazines now. I like the writing, but can do design too. The club helped me learn you could publish online first.”

    Brianna Walker, age 16

    I want to be a musician, but Latinitas told me you have to make a business plan and write it out on Powerpoint, make a logo and all this digital stuff on a website so people know your tour dates. Our band is called No Exit now.”

    Jacinda Smith, age 15