Melissa Canela, a first-generation native from East San Jose, joined our team as the Program Associate on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. After four workdays, Ron Gonzales, President and CEO, announced to the team to work from home due to the shelter in place order. Since then, not only has the Hispanic Foundation pivoted all its programs online, but also has worked extensively with its partners to continue to provide educational services in Silicon Valley. A key contributing factor to how quickly we’ve adapted to the needs of our students is Melissa Canela. In addition to pursuing a Masters of Science degree in Justice Studies at San Jose State University, Melissa has been able to roll up her sleeves to ensure students and parents don’t miss out on advancing their education.
The following is a brief account of Melissa’s first 30 days.
The transition to working online was very unexpected and uniquely challenging for me as a new hire. This has been a new learning experience that has put my abilities to provide effective programming and transmit support via a computer screen to the test. Truthfully, I was worried at first because so much of the Hispanic Foundation College Success Center’s (HFCSC’s) work revolves around in-person relationship building. Thankfully, in the past 30 days of shelter-in-place, Lisa Dominguez, Director of Programs, and I have worked as a team to launch various workshops for our Latinx community.
We went from visits and meetings on school campuses to virtual videoconferencing and thinking out-of-the-box to transition parent and student workshops to online platforms. Needless to say, I have had plenty of opportunities to work on my e-networking skills and communication with community partners, parents, and students I have yet to meet in-person.
Supporting the Latinx community has always been at the forefront of my professional and personal goals. Having said that, it was crucial to quickly transition our programs online as soon as we did because our families and students unfortunately do not have access to consistent academic lessons, workshops, and resources. The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley wants to strengthen the knowledge gap as much as we can, especially during times like these.
My biggest takeaway has been how proactive our Latinx community has been during these times, particularly with their tech-savviness. I have found that our parents are searching for workshops to participate in and are actively searching for opportunities for their children as well. Our Latinx parents have proven once again their versatility and willingness to adapt to new ways of learning such as videoconferencing. It is very inspiring and motivating to witness!
I am truly grateful to be a part of this team and continue looking forward to providing relevant and important workshops and programs for our Latinx community by all means possible, in-person or virtually!