My guest today is Cynthia Gomez. Cynthia was born in Peru and immigrated to the United States at age 6. She grew up in the Los Angeles area to parents who worked in industrial, service, and retail jobs. Cynthia attended the California Academy of Mathematics & Science (CAMS), a public high school focused on math and science which she credits with helping her access opportunities and prepare for higher education. Cynthia received her Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology and Master of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Stanford University. She shifted from a pre-med focus to working in the health business sector and is currently the Vice President of Customer Experience at Silversheet, a healthcare technology start-up. Cynthia is passionate about healthcare and helping individuals from underserved communities gain access to and thrive in higher education and professional settings. She is a member of Management Leadership for Tomorrow and a board member for the Stanford Latino Alumni Association of Southern California. Here is a little of her First Gen Journey . . .
In this episode, Cynthia describes how her path has shifted due to life circumstances. Here are a few highlights from her episode:
· Cynthia’s parents were very influential in shaping her dedication to education (1:40).
· She prepared to be a doctor in high school by volunteering and doing research but ultimately decided against being pre-med in college (4:13).
· Cynthia found that being First Gen was a barrier to asking for help because she was so used to figuring things out for herself (8:21).
· She found another career path by working on campus and gaining experiences to figure out what she wanted to do in her future career (9:22).
· Cynthia used examples of successful alumni to explain the career decisions she was making to her parents and help them understand the path she was taking (15:39).
· She learned the importance of networking from her mother who was an entrepreneur (17:31).
· Cynthia’s father passed away while she was a few months into her first job post-college. As a First Gen, she didn’t know she could ask for support from her employer and luckily was met with empathy and guidance from colleagues and mentors (20:58).
· Cynthia learned how to get her needs met while also framing it in a way that benefited the company (23:40). Having such a supportive company made it possible for Cynthia to stay committed to her job when her mother got sick with cancer. She found a way to find opportunities and build her career while still being loyal to a company that helped her make time for family (25:09).
· For Cynthia, finding balance meant going to therapy (26:46) and engaging in other self-care activities like exercise, taking a break by being in nature, or taking small trips (31:49)
· She uses her leadership position in her current job to create environments where people’s ideas are supported (33:23).
· Cynthia hopes that future First Gens will be able to see themselves in professional settings and she works with organizations to support underrepresented communities (36:07).
Cynthia mentioned the MARC (Minority Access to Research Careers) program she was a part of. Find more information about it here.
Therapy can help people find balance, manage relationships, or relieve symptoms of mental illness. If you are interested in therapy, contact your insurance company for referrals or search for a local provider on Psychology Today.