It’s circa 1987. I’m attending a Saturday morning computer coding contest. A TV reporter interviews me, asking what it is like to be a computer whiz and what do I want to be when I grow up. On air, she ends her segment with a punchline: “Coding is only a hobby for Jessica, she wants to be a television news reporter!” She only reported part of my answer because I had told her I wanted to be a journalist, poet, lawyer, actress or maybe someone who designed the next cool video game for Atari.

Renaissance interests

As varied as those interests were, they led to educational and professional opportunities and a career path that a Mexican-American teenager growing up in East Texas could hardly otherwise imagine. So when people ask for career advice, I encourage them to pursue all of their passions and embrace many interests. “Be well-rounded. Be deep. Be Renaissance.”

...they are America’s Renaissance by exploring the spectrum of their passions and interests.

Similarly, employers – from Main Street to Silicon Valley to Hollywood – who embrace corporate diversity by investing in science, technology, engineering and math education programs cannot just hand out beakers and calipers, but must include sketchbooks and guitars.

To truly empower the next diverse generation, we need the “A” – arts. We need STEAM. Technical expertise may open doors, but companies promote up the corporate ladder those who can create, inspire, analyze, strategize and communicate.

Inspiring youth

Though my path didn’t lead me to being a TV reporter, it did lead me to Univision. Every day, I see our diverse audience – made up of storytellers, geeks and poets – who are the leaders corporations desire. They are young, bilingual and inspirational. Their imaginations lead them to create, whether online, on canvas or behind a camera. 

Recently, I attended a Technolochicas coding session for Latinas, one of Univision’s STEAM initiatives. The girls, about the same age I was on that Saturday morning thirty years ago, were asked to think of a problem and solve it. In a quiet voice, the last presenter said she wanted to create a voting system that would accommodate her parents who each worked two jobs.

Whether those girls were coding as a hobby or the start of a career path, they are America’s Renaissance by exploring the spectrum of their passions and interests.