This Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) we’re thrilled to host a new virtual series featuring our friends at [email protected] With a focus on Leadership development, we spotlighted ten YouTube Latinx leaders in a series of “Tech Talks” with DreamWakers classrooms across the country. So far, the Hangouts have been inspiring our #DreamStudents, #DreamSpeakers and #DreamTeachers alike. Today we’ll share with you highlights from three of these HHM flashchats.

First off, Alan Montelongo, Hardware Chief of Staff in the Legal Patent Department in Google, kicked off the series. Montelongo was born and raised in South Texas. He told the students that “education was the foundation for the road that I would walk upon in my journey to Harvard University.” He studied English in college but noted that he “learned much more than the language before [graduating] in 2014.” He also took from his university experience priceless lessons in grit, determination, and perserverance.

In his #flashchat, Montelongo spoke with middle schoolers based in Rosemeade, CA. He lit up the classroom with jokes but also shared valuable words of advice for students, especially around the imporatnce of prioritizing tasks. “I knew where I wanted to go,” he said, “But to get there, I had to learn to prioritize my time.”

Montelongo also discussed the importance of honing soft skills in order to succeed in college and in the workforce. “Learning how to communicate verbally and non-verbally is crucial, so that you know how to carry a message across and to stand up for yourself.”

Following the flashchat, #DreamTeacher Heather Shotke reported that Montelongo’s discussion planted seeds of inquiry that she was able to expound upon in later classes.

The next flashchat of the HHM series featured Breanna Zwart, Associate Principal at YouTube, where her portfolio includes partnership development, education, communications, and business strategy execution. A lifelong advocate for women and girls economic empowerment, she currently serves as a Mayoral appointee on the City and County of San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.

Speaking to 4th and 5th grade students in North Carolina, Zwart talked about the importance of constantly adding new skills to one’s professional “toolkit.” Growing up, Zwart “loved reading,” but she noticed that “technoloing was continuing to grow.” As a result, she said: “I knew I had to have that [technology] language and knowledge. This made me try to gain as many tools in my tool kit as much as possible.”

In closing, Zwart told the students: “Be kind to everyone because you don’t know who will or can help you out in the future. And remember what you are worth and fight for it.” Si si si!

Our final chat of the series featured Mrs. Pearce’s students in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. They were surprised, thrilled and in disbelief when their #DreamSpeaker, Frank Rodriguez of YouTube, told them he was going to send them ALL Google Cardboards!!! First Rodriguez asked: “How many of you know what Google Cardboard is?” **ALL hands went up** Then he asked: “How many of you have a Google Cardboard?” **Zero hands went up.**

Then — in an Oprah giveaway fashion — he announced that he would send them all Cardboards in the mail! “With Cardboard, you can go to Cuba where my family grew up. You can go to Antartica. You can go to space!” Mr. Rodriguez’s generosity is truly out of this world! At Google, he leads the Virtual Reality team to “help define the future of this amazing technology.” Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Mr. Rodriguez left the sunny beaches behind to study Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. After college he worked in Research and Development at Lockheed Martin, before becoming a Product Manager at Google in San Francisco, CA. When asked what advice he had for middle school and high school students, Mr. Rodriguez “Think big. There’s a way. Find the path to get to whatever it is you dream.”

Thank you Mr. Rodriguez for the behind the scenes tour of the YouTube VR lab, for the priceless advice about having GRIT and overcoming IMPOSTER SYNDROME, and for making our dreams a reality.

Mrs. Pearce’s students all made Mr. Rodriguez digital thank you notes like this one to express their gratitude. We’re lucky to have role models like Mr. Rodriguez who will inspire future generations.

Some other amazing speakers we are featuring this Hispanic Heritage Month are: Agustin Mora, Software Engineer at Google, Sol Accinelli, Project Manager at YouTube, Julio Chavez, Software Engineer at YouTube, Sylvia Duran Chen, YouTube Support Infrastructure Manager, Stephen Salinas, Chief of Staff, Global Operations and many more!

Keep up with our HHM “Tech Talks” by subscribing to our YouTube channel and following our Instagram. Videos will be posted on YouTube with subtitles in both Spanish and English.