Celebrating Hispanic Culture and Heritage

Hispanic Culture and Heritage
Hispanic Heritage month

Since 1968, the U.S. has celebrated the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino American citizens. This includes citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Hispanic Heritage Month began as a commemorative week. California Congressman George E. Brown introduced Hispanic Heritage Week as a result of a growing push to recognize the contributions of the Hispanic and Latino community. Congress authorized the law on September 17th, 1968. President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation that same day:

“Several of our States and many of our cities proudly bear Hispanic names and continue Hispanic traditions that enrich our national life. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has given an example to the world by lifting the per capita income of its inhabitants through “Operation Bootstrap” from $256 to $1,047 in 10 years.

The people of Hispanic descent are the heirs of missionaries, captains, soldiers, and farmers who were motivated by a young spirit of adventure, and a desire to settle freely in a free land. This heritage is ours.”

September 15th was chosen as the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Week with the intention of recognizing the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, who declared independence from Spain on September 15th, 1821.

Hispanic Heritage Month as we know it today was signed into law on August 17th, 1988. The idea for extending the commemoration was first brought to the table by U.S. Representative Esteban E. Torres of California, in 1987. Torres wanted more time to “properly observe and coordinate events and activities to celebrate Hispanic culture and achievement”. The bill itself was proposed by Illinois Senator Paul Simon in 1988, and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. On September 14th, 1989, President George W. Bush was the first president to declare September 15th to October 15th as Hispanic Heritage Month. His declaration stated the following:

“The rich ethnic heritage of Hispanic Americans gives us cause to celebrate because it is a proud and colorful portion of our Nation’s heritage. Hispanic Americans have reaffirmed our belief in the principles of liberty and democratic government, and they have helped to share that vision with our neighbors in Central and South America and the Caribbean. This month, as we recognize the many achievements of Hispanic Americans, we also recall the universal appeal of the American ideal of freedom and opportunity for all.”

The contributions of the Hispanic and Latino community in the United States are interwoven into the heritage of our country. Here at the Atlanta MBDA Business Center, we are dedicated to celebrating and supporting Hispanic and Latino owned businesses. Hispanic-owned companies represent 14% of total U.S. businesses. From 2012-2018, Hispanic businesses grew at double the rate of other U.S. businesses – 40.2% growth compared to 18.8% growth. Latino small business owners are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, growing 34% over the last ten years. The Georgia MBDA Business Center has the resources and experience to support Hispanic and Latino business owners in this era of growth and success.

Georgia MBDA Center’s Students – Where are they Now: Brandon Miller of Clarkston Consulting

Georgia MBDA Center’s Students – Where are they Now

Earlier this year, we produced a series of articles focusing on how your group can employ student workers by utilizing the resources provided by the Georgia Tech Career Center. If you were not able to read those articles, make sure to check them out on our blog. To show you that we practice what we preach, this week, we will be highlighting some of the students that have worked with our centers over the past few years and where they are today.

Brandon Miller

            Brandon graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014 and received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Technology and Management from the Denning Technology and Management Program. Brandon began working with the Centers in 2013 as a summer intern, but his role eventually extended into a year-round position. Brandon’s role focused primarily on project management for the Atlanta MBDA’s healthcare initiatives. Brandon also conducted a number of research projects as well as helping shape social media marketing for the Centers and help cement the role and scope Atlanta MBDA Center internships.

At Georgia Tech, Brandon was very involved on campus. Brandon served as President of his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, and also served on the Executive Cabinet for Georgia Tech’s orientation program, FASET. In his undergraduate career, Brandon held a number of on-campus jobs including work with the Office of Minority Development as well as his work with the Atlanta MBDA Centers. Brandon also participated in the Co-op program with an Atlanta orthopedics company while an undergrad at Georgia Tech.

Below is what Brandon had to say about working with the Centers:

How would you describe the atmosphere within the Atlanta MBDA Business Center?

At no point did I really feel like an intern. I felt like I was a staff member and an employee. Everyone was great, and I really felt like we were a family after all of the time we spent together on the impactful work that we were doing. I felt like I was entrusted with a lot and given a lot of autonomy to create, try new things, fail, and pivot with a support system in place where I didn’t feel like I was going to mess up at the end of the day. Working there also provided a lot of opportunities. For example, I still have some of the relationships that I made with some of the suppliers and manufacturers that were in the various programs. The Center also sent me to a national conference on supplier diversity which was a really cool experience. Overall, I would say that it was a very unique internship program where I didn’t feel like an intern at all.

Are there any projects from your time as a student assistant that you’re particularly proud of?

What comes to mind is being able to and being entrusted to help develop net, new programs at the Center, whether they exist today or not. It was super cool to be able to create the internship and the ambassador programs at the Center. I was also able to create the HTAC program for healthcare and the CAMP program for manufacturers. I remember making the logos and websites for these programs. It was a great opportunity to be a part of these from their origination and seeing them grow. We also put together a conference for diverse suppliers and manufacturers from all over the country. Knowing that I was able to represent the Center, coordinate the agenda, and get everything together as an undergraduate college student was a fantastic experience.

How did working for the Atlanta MBDA Business Center contribute to your undergraduate career at Georgia Tech and your professional career after graduating?

            I’m currently a consultant for Clarkston Consulting, and I focus on project and program management. I also lead our diversity, equity, and inclusion services (DEI), so how we partner and help our clients in the DEI space. A lot of what I learned with my experience in the Center helped me realize that I did not want to do engineering even though I have a Biomedical Engineering degree. I realized that I really liked working with different companies and different people on different types of projects. My work with the Center was really a launchpad into consulting rather than engineering. I would say that my work was a differentiator as I was coming out of Georgia Tech and starting to interview because a lot of the work that I did was the work that consultants do.

Now that I’m in the DEI consultancy space, I’m having a lot of conversations about supplier diversity and approaches which is what the Centers do. They focus on diverse suppliers and how to get them into the supply chain, so that’s a direct correlation. I also want to mention the project management skills, the sense of autonomy, and being able to coordinate and communicate across different parties, and all of that is a direct correlation to the work that I do now. In hindsight, I realized that this was one of the more impactful experiences when it comes to what my career has turned out to be, and I still go back to different anecdotes and lessons learned from the centers and my internship there even over my co-op which was almost a full-time job.