America Ferrera visits UCF
MSC celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 16:10
She is best known for her leading role as Betty Suarez on the ABC television series Ugly Betty. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, actress America Ferrera was invited by the Multicultural Student Center and Multicultural Academic and Support Services to speak to the UCF community about the importance of minorities voting in the upcoming presidential election.
“I hope this event celebrates and commemorates elements of the Hispanic culture. Almost 20 percent of the UCF student body identifies as Hispanic or Latino. I wanted the students to see someone who they can identify with,” said Cynthia Florentino, leadership committee coordinator of MSC.
Tuesday at 7 p.m., nearly 300 students gathered in the Pegasus Ballroom as Ferrera told her inspiring story of how she defied the odds as a Latina actress and later became a political activist.
Growing up as a Hispanic-American in Los Angeles, she battled with her identity. She struggled early on in her acting career to leave the stereotypical “Latina” labels behind.
“I wanted to be without labels like ethnic, or the real girl or the role model. I really didn’t want to be a role model for Latinas, young women, real women, strong women or otherwise. I just wanted to be an actress,” Ferrera told the audience.
She later realized her inability to embrace what makes her different and her unwillingness to see her singular experience as her greatest tool for connecting to others is what stood between her and her greatest potential.
Her experience helped students in the audience cope with their own struggles of being Hispanic.
“I identified with her story because sometimes, as a Hispanic, you don’t want to be seen as a Hispanic; you want to blend in more with the culture and she helped me see we should embrace being different instead of trying to hide it,” junior psychology major Jany Baldomi said.
After becoming a critically acclaimed actress and achieving so many of her goals at a young age, Ferrera decided it was time to give back and make her voice heard in a different way.
In 2008, she chose to get involved with the presidential primaries. Despite her apprehension, she wanted to use her voice for what she believed in as a citizen. Since then she has been traveling around the world speaking on issues that are important to her.
Tuesday night, she shared the vital role Latinos and youth will play in the upcoming elections.
“It’s no secret that 22 million Latino eligible voters are sleeping giants. Whether or not that giant wakes up is in our hands,” Ferrera said.
She discussed the pressing issues relevant to the minority and youth community. Some of those concerns include the increased cost of tuition, lack of available jobs and current academic curriculum.
During this election, instead of campaigning for a particular candidate, Ferrera decided to team up with the nonpartisan organization, Voto Latino, and launch the campaign America4America.
Her campaign assists people in registering to vote and informing the public on the issues at stake.
Ferrera concluded by saying, “The biggest loss in this election will be if the morning after headlines are ‘Young people didn’t show up, again.’”
She urged the audience to get registered and vote, because she believes that’s the best way to fight back and get your voice heard.