Janine Cabrera-Velde on Education, her Latina Roots, and her Time at Harvard | Ep. 6



Episode Summary

For Learning and Development professional, Janine Cabrera-Velde, education and family are her passions. With degrees from Emory University, Harvard University, and University of Georgia, she hasn’t forgotten her roots which are proudly grounded in her Latina identity. Janine talks about her time at Harvard where she was inspired by campus workers to create a tutoring program for their children. She also shares her experience growing up in the diverse and changing community of Stone Mountain, GA which informs her work still today.

Episode Notes

“My Latina identity is grounded in everything that I do. My parents always infused in me…you’ve got to really know your roots, you’ve got to know where you came from and that’s something that you can never forget” – Janine Cabrera-Velde

Janine talks about her Latina background with roots from both El Salvador and Bolivia and being the daughter of immigrants. She also talks about the two sides of growing up in Stone Mountain, Georgia – both the positive diversity of cultures and the negative impact of white flight. She clarifies what she means when she says, “Harvard needs us more than we need Harvard to be successful.” Education is a tool and it should not define you or your identity, it should help you do things that are meaningful for you. (7:10)

She talks about her time at Harvard University, feeling out of place and finding comfort in connecting with campus workers. She was inspired to create an award-winning tutoring program for their children while also building community. She also talks about finding the entrepreneurial spark from the hustle and grind of hard-working father, mother, and brother – also inspiring her to take a risk with an administrative fellowship where she created learning opportunities for those working in the trades. (10:58)

Janine describes how love and family led her back home to Georgia and her work at Emory. She shares her mother’s dicho “Educacion es la unica manera de sobresalir” and talks about her personal educational experience and how that highlighted educational disparities and differences in access to resources. Adela and Janine talk about the pros and cons of Charter Schools and how they create competition effecting some schools to increase educational standards and options for students. She talks about how she gives back now by serving on the governing board of her former high school, Chamblee Charter in DeKalb County, Georgia, and her experience as a mentor. (18:40)

Janine’s words of wisdom as a Latina leader: question expectations of what you should be and become the person you want to be. She also emphasizes the importance of taking risks and using education as a tool. (28:00)

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