By Jay Roberson
WOMEN entrepreneurship week and Hispanic Heritage Month were combined in a night full of empanadas, guacamole and plantains along with panel discussions led by Hispanic entrepreneurs on Oct. 12 in Lynch Adler Hall 202.
One panelist, a Rider alum and founder of Lopez and Associates Behavior Counseling, Jennifer Lopez, ’13 and ’15 respectively, spoke about her experiences establishing her own business in the field she’s in.
The other panelist, founder and owner of E.S.T.I.R. Inc. Esther Tanez, explained how her life led her to serving the community through her business.
“Serving the community was just a part of growing up, to serve, to give back, to help. I hear somebody say they have a situation, and I go into fix-it mode,” Tanez said. “For the most part we [the Hispanic community] are warm, loving, community-based and service-based because it’s a part of our culture.”
Before the attendees grabbed food, they were given a live demonstration on how to make their own empanadas, guacamole and pico de gallo and recipes to take home.
Tanez spoke about some of the adjustments she had to make to assimilate to American culture while remaining true to herself.
“Authenticity is key: be yourself, but be appropriate. When you are dealing with people at the end of the day, people are people and they like to be cared for,” said Tanez.
Being yourself in business
Sophomore entrepreneurship major Nanci Lazo explained that she sometimes struggles with authenticity as she navigates college.
“Sometimes I’m either too Hispanic to join this group, or I’m not Hispanic enough to join this group. Events like this remind me it doesn’t really matter and I’m OK with being Hispanic, but also just being American,” said Lazo.
Many Hispanic women feel a certain pressure to be perfect through periods of change and don’t attempt to look for help, but Lopez reminded the attendees that finding support within the community is essential.
“Find people in your corner that are going to help and support you,” said Lopez. “You have to develop, right, and I’m not going to say that it was easy. Change is difficult and uncomfortable and I think that you have to be OK knowing that at that time it might seem like it’s not OK, but there’s another side to it.”
Sierra Willis, a junior marketing major, found
the event constructive as she looks to start her own business in the future.
“Hearing people that have been through this and experienced it and actually having people at Rider find their way on their path. It encourages you to want more and do more,” Willis said.
Time to develop
Lopez spoke about her never-ending journey of self discovery and recently graduated in 2023 with her executive master’s of business administration in order to enhance her business.
“Go at your own time. I think we are so aware of the people around us, so we want to rush and we are missing our own time. So if you are centered and grounded in your own time it’s going to help you build that foundation that you need,” said Lopez.
Through talking about shared experiences, lots of attendees felt reassured and seen by the panelists.
“The thing I loved was the food because it feels so close to home,” said Lazo. “What I loved the most is that it wasn’t just talking about information or whatever. We also got close on a personal level. And I feel that’s what made it a wonderful event for me.”
The most emphasized piece of advice given was to advocate for yourself and establish yourself as an asset.
“In life some doors get open for certain people, other times you’ve got to kick that door open … You’ve gotta let them know what your worth is, you have to call them and say what you can offer them and how they’re missing an opportunity,” said Tanez.