131: The First-Gen Lounge Reunion

Today’s episode is truly something special–it’s a reunion. I’m so excited to have not one, not two, but THREE past guests (Irnande Altema, Shonice Montgomery, and Janet Reyes) to return to drop some knowledge on us about all things life.

What are the most significant happenings? (03:10)

Most people use social media to unwind and forget about the hassles of real life. I’m not critical about that, though. However, maintaining a professional social presence is critical as a first-gen. People have gotten jobs from social media; people are getting clients from social media. Once you can tap into social media’s power, doors will automatically start opening. As a creative, the best place to showcase your skills is the social space. Even if no one is watching, always show up, be consistent, people eventually tend to notice. As long as you are passionate about what you are doing, what’s the worst that can happen? 

Challenges They Faced and How They Handled Them? (10:34)

Being a woman of color in corporate America comes with its fair share of challenges. You will be judged for being black and for being a woman all at the same time. You are expected to look some way, dress some way and behave some way. Although I’m not against maintaining that professional look, I believe you should look and feel good every single day. Society has set standards on how you should look, binding you to what the masses deem as ‘right.’ If wearing makeup makes you feel good, then do that. If you want to accessorize with African prints, then do that. But, remember, how you battle people’s insecurity will go a long way in helping you stand out and navigate that professional space. 

Advice to People Trying to Show Up? (20:27)

It would be best if you believed in yourself first before someone else can believe in you. If you ever feel like you are not good enough, look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself of how smart you are or how beautiful you are. Trust me, self-acceptance and self-love might seem like a cliche, but that’s the quickest way to boosting your confidence. The other thing you need to do is surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed; people who want the best for you.  You might have the best support team in the world, but, if you don’t show up, all this will be in vain. Again, it’s not just about showing up, but also how you show up matters a lot. When you show up, make sure you do something constructive, make changes, make moves, and always aim to better yourself. 

What’s the Last Piece of Advice? (27:20)

Learning how to invest in yourself can be an uphill task, especially if you are a next-gen. Nevertheless, the best way to know what to invest in is by asking yourself these questions: Will this make me happy? What’s my purpose? What do I want to achieve?  Whether it’s a course, a mentor, or a coach, you can never go wrong with investing in yourself. Again, knowing you are good at something is one thing; doing it is another. If you ever feel you need some guidance, get yourself a mentor. Mentors will help you avoid making the mistakes they made and save you from taking the wrong turn. Another thing that works miracles is by writing down your vision. Don’t just write it down but pin it somewhere you can see. This acts as a faith move and continuously encourages you to keep on pushing. 

Irnande Altema is the Policy Director of Special Populations at the Mental Health Association of Maryland. Prior to, for four years she served as the Chief of Staff to Maryland State Senator Kathy Klausmeier. Irnande practiced civil litigation as an associate with the Law Office of Derek Challenger. She is admitted to both the Maryland State Bar and Maryland Federal Bar. She founded FirstGenRISE to create a platform for first-generation students, graduates, and new hires navigating academia and their profession. Also, Irnande is the author of “The Rise of a First Gen”which journeys the struggles and successes of a first-generation American determined to rise. Connect with Irnande at www.firstgenrise.com.  

On most days, you can find Shonice Montgomery sippin’ hot coffee from a cute mug, listening to a podcast, or locating the nearest clearance rack! She loves a good sale! Born and raised in South Mississippi, she has learned to appreciate the simple things in life, like sharing a home-cooked meal with loved-ones, riding along a country road with the windows down, or discovering a new city with her hubby, Chancellor.  Shonice is also the proud fur mama of three four-legged cuties: Rue (the spoiled Maltipoo) and their neighborhood tabby cats, Boosie and Webbie. Fun fact: Shonice is a wedding planner and owner of Montgomery Weddings & Events! She planned our surprise destination wedding for $3,000. Shonice is passionate about helping women walk in their purpose and cultivating healthy relationships. Connect with Shonice at www.shonicemontgomery.com.

Janet M. Reyes is a first-generation graduate student, born and raised in Southern California to Mexican immigrant parents. She grew up in a low-socioeconomic household, the youngest of nine children where survival was the priority, not higher education. She a high-school dropout, a survivor of sexual abuse and domestic violence. After becoming a single mother, she pursued higher education while working full-time as a hairstylist, eventually earning a Master’s Degree in communicative disorders with an emphasis in speech-language pathology. Janet has dedicated her years to advocating, mentoring, and inspiring my fellow first-gens, single mommies, minorities, and anyone who may need it throughout my many years in academia. She is incredibly passionate about advocating for cultural and linguistic diversity and inclusion in academia and the field of communication disorders. Janet is currently a trilingual (Spanish, ASL, English) Speech-Language Pathologist working with children K-8 in Inglewood, CA. Connect with Janet on Instagram and Twitter: @LaSLPChingona or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/JanetMReyes.

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