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Uva Coles (left) and Maria Vizcarrondo (right). Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick / AL DÍA News
Uva Coles (left) and Maria Vizcarrondo (right). Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick / AL DÍA News

Women’s Summit discusses health and wellness, personal growth and professional development

A slate of inspiring, successful Latina women kick-started the day’s events.

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The AL DÍA’s Women’s Summit last Friday featured three panel sessions on health and wellness, personal growth, and professional development, respectively.

At the health and wellness talk, Dr. Maribel Hernandez, who is a cardiologist at Lankenau Medical Center, discussed health issues, explaining that heart disease is the number one killer of Hispanic women today. Women need to be informed about its risks and symptoms, because too often their health concerns can simply be dismissed as stress.

“You need to be, unfortunately, your own advocate,” she said.

Healthcare advocate Maria Pajil Battle followed Hernandez, discussing sexual violence and health disparities with the audience. She vouched for a more holistic approach to health: “Stop thinking of health as something that starts at the doctor’s office. Instead, we must see it as something that is woven into our families and everyday lives and environments.”

For the panel on personal growth, Uva Coles, vice president of civic and global engagement at Widener University, and Maria Vizcarrondo, director of community development and external relations at Cabrini University, held an engaging discussion, with each drawing on their own experiences.

Noting that she is proud of the fact that, as a daughter of a seamstress with a second-grade education, she was able to attend Columbia University, Vizcarrondo said: “I have to honor and celebrate those opportunities I’ve been able to have.”

“You have to have your own kitchen cabinet,” Vizcarrondo later added, as she explained the importance of turning to trusted friends and family as an important support and sounding board when holding a leadership position.

Coles, meanwhile, discussed the role of mentorship in helping guide her to the success she has realized throughout her career. She recalled how, as a high schooler in Panama, a mentor encouraged her to apply to college in the U.S.

““When you see light, you’re drawn to it,” Coles said, as she explained her relationship with her mentors over the years. Coles would move to the South Carolina to attend college, thanks in part to the guidance and encouragement from her mentor, a move that set the table for the success she has since experienced.

Coles and Vizcarrondo later tackled the gender gap issue.

“Fear becomes part of how we navigate,” Coles noted. “Women don’t have to be 100 percent ready, they just need to be excited about the opportunities.”

In the final panel session of the day, attendees were treated to an inspired session on how best to build a personal brand on LinkedIn and other social networks. For this session, Natily Santos, the Regional Sourcing and Supplier Diversity Director at Aramark spoke, followed by a presentation from Yai Vargas, the founder and CEO of The Latinista.

“When you’re working on your personal branding, think about what your tagline would say about you,” Vargas, also known as the ‘LinkedIn Ninja,’ said.

“Carve out your niche and unearth the dynamic and colorful words you can use to describe your story,” she continued.

Mastery of LinkedIn, and maintaining a consistent presence across social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is key, according to Vargas. It is important to share appropriately, strategically, and always authentically.

“When you share with people what you’re really passionate about, people will bring opportunities to your doorstep,” she said.

 Vargas followed her presentation with a discussion with Raquel Arredondo, the Associate Director of Outreach for Engagement and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

Arredondo added that, “activism efforts can be a part of your personal brand” because it is what you are passionate about.

 

*This article was updated on November 7.

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