Meet Dawn Cordero, HACEMOS – National President
My name is Dawn Cordero, I am a third generation Ukrainian/Czech-American and proud AT&T employee. It may seem odd to be included in a piece about our HACEMOS Employee Group but my love for this culture surrounds me every day. It’s a part of who I am and let me tell you why.
During high school, I was afforded the opportunity to visit Mexico as an exchange student. The welcoming Mexican community, the people, the sense of familia, and don’t get me started on the food, are the things that drew me in so tightly. This experience was the basis of my major in Spanish foreign language and the beginning of what would become a lifelong embrace.
While out dancing with friends at a Latin club, I met my husband who immigrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 24. At the time, my children were 8 and 9, both fluent in Spanish and both of Mexican Heritage. My soon-to-be husband was impressed that we spoke Spanish in our home, attended Spanish mass, and understood some of the significant celebrations of the Mexican culture, such as La Virgin de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). We even had a Quinceañera for my eldest daughter’s 15th birthday.
Soon after we married, we decided to expand our family and adopted two girls who are Mexican and Cuban. Their birth mother wanted us to raise them as we have raised our older children, with the understanding of their roots. The Mexican roots were easy, we had that one, but the Cuban culture, though still Latino, was different. So, we embarked on a new learning experience through books, cultural events, and again food.
Our culture and background, no matter our descent, are part of our uniqueness. It is the foundation for shaping many aspects of our lives including the principles and morals we live by.
Meet Kristian Cosme, HACEMOS – Executive Vice President – Operations
And I am Kristian Cosme – my family helms from Puerto Rico where I was born and we moved to Florida in the 1980’s. I’ve lived in Florida since and really love being here. Family is really important in our culture. When we moved to Orlando my grandparents followed shortly thereafter; and a few months later some of my aunts and uncles started making the migration. I remember as a child, we would have up to 6 extended family members staying with us at a time.
We were a low-income family, my father was retired military and my mother was a house wife; my brothers and I utilized free lunch programs throughout school. When we moved to Orlando, I didn’t know any English. Through the power of word association (thanks to the television) and school training, I was able to learn English and was moved into the mainstream classroom from ESOL within a school year. I am also the first child to graduate high school in my family. My two older brothers both dropped out of high school. Education became very important to me and is one of my driving passions, along with authenticity.
I want to make sure that every child has the opportunity to be who and what they want to be. As a child, I didn’t share my authentic self with my family until I was 23. It took a major accident to help me build the courage to come out and tell the world I am gay. Now I’m a proud gay man and want to make sure to instill the understanding that being gay is okay.
Like Dawn, a lot of my family traditions and memories stem from being around the dinner table. Whether it was making dinner with my mom for the family, learning how to make pancakes for the first time or our hosting the holiday celebrations each year. Even though my parents are no longer with us, my brother and his family continue hosting the traditions. Music, food and family bring us all together.
Our Culture Unites Us
Our stories are different, but not unfamiliar. One of the major benefits that HACEMOS has provided us is a circle of connections who share our experiences.
Today, as leaders of HACEMOS, the Hispanic/Latino Employee Group (EG) at AT&T, we work together on initiatives that provide our members with the foundation to learn and understand. With 36 chapters and 8,000+ members across the country, HACEMOS is among the largest EG’s nationwide.
Through our scholarships, STEM projects, and member development, we’re not only helping our employees prepare for the future, but we are also teaching and supporting our community. Our award-winning Latino Talks provide a virtual platform for candid conversations not only for our members but those in the community who want to talk about their experiences. We talk about our differences and our similarities. It’s through our understanding of our culture that allows us to create such initiatives that propel Latinos in their career paths, impact business in our communities, and leverage resources to continue leading the next generation of leaders.
HACEMOS isn’t just an acronym, it’s a word, it’s a verb. It means “we do” – Together we do more. It’s an action. The Latino culture is diverse in our language, our appearance and characteristics, our traditions, and even our food. Here at HACEMOS, we do more to teach one another and learn from one another.
There is a Spanish word, dicho (wise words): “Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos,” which loosely translates to “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” We encourage you to look beyond what you know today and explore the diverse Latino culture we celebrate during Hispanic Heritage month and throughout the year.Learn more about our employee groups