Professionalism & Authenticity - Maria Harris

Professionalism & Authenticity - Maria Harris

On ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves. We would love to feature everyone in our community on their own episode. That said, we publish one episode a we created a story submission option for people to self-publish & share their experiences with the world. 

Tell me about a time when you repressed parts of your authentic self?

Maria HarrisI've listened to your podcast and often thought about "what or who even is my authentic self" and truthfully reflecting back on my journey I had repressed my authentic Latina self until September 2021.

What brought me out of the depths of assimilation was actually my little sister. In June 2020, my husband and I took legal guardianship of my little sister who at the time was 15. We moved her from Phoenix Arizona to Stevens Point Wisconsin which was a culture shock going from predominantly Hispanic communities to predominantly white communities. On top of that, COVID was intense and when she started school here everything was virtual. She had no opportunity to find her sense of belonging in our community/her school because the world was shut down. When things finally started opening up in 2021 and she started going in to school, she really saw the culture difference as she was one of few minority students at her high school.

In July/August of 2021, I during a checking in with her and she expressed how uncomfortable she was being Latina in Stevens Point/her school. She was ashamed of her darker features and skin tone and sometimes she was afraid to be her authentic full self.

This was one of the most defining moments of my life to date, it felt like one moment I was blind to the assimilation I had put myself through to seeing the reality of my shame/embarrassment of my latinidad.  I felt like it hit my like a ton of bricks and from then on I started to look inward and did what I could to immerse myself and my little sister in our culture and creating a space where we could talk about what it means for us to be authentically latinas in our lives.

This journey to being proud of my latinidad led me to leaving my corporate job to serve as the Multicultural Resource Center Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. It also led me to create Fiesta Point, which was the first ever Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in our city (and county!) I was able to put on 7 different events across the town to highlight businesses and create opportunities for our community to enjoy our culture!


When do you feel the most comfortable being your authentic self?

Maria HarrisAlthough this is an on-going journey, I can honestly say that I now feel comfortable being my authentic self now in every space I enter. I wear my latinidad with confidence not just for me but for my little sister, the students I serve, and the community at large.


What would give you the confidence to be your authentic self, regardless the environment?

Maria HarrisWhat gives me the confidence to be my authentic self are my hoops and my lash extensions, I consider both to be my power suit.


Have a story to share? Let us know here for an opportunity to be featured in the podcast!

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