Learn more about Breakthrough Behavior staff and their background as we celebrate and honor National Hispanic Heritage Month.
Selena Antunez, Analyst in Training | Osceola Clinic
What is your background and where is your family from?
I am a first generation Mexican-American. Both of my parents are from Mexico and came to the United States in the early 1990s.
How is your Hispanic heritage important to you?
I think my Hispanic heritage is important to me because there is so much history and contributions that we have made in a country where we are minorities. I remember being younger and being embarrassed any time that my parents came to pick me up from school while playing Mexican music. The area I lived in did not have many Mexican-Americans and I used to try to blend in with those around me. It took me a while to embrace my culture and be proud of it. It definitely has helped shape me as a person, my values, and my beliefs.
Who were your role models growing up?
My role models growing up really were my parents and my brother. My parents were and continue to be my heroes. To see how they sacrificed what they had and left their country in hopes to provide my siblings and myself a better life is something that I will be eternally grateful for. My brother is on the spectrum himself. When we were younger, we used to go to his therapy center after school where he received three different services, back to back. On top of that, he had other activities that my family had him attend. I remember thinking how tired he must have been. Seeing the progress he has made and what he has accomplished is truly inspiring. They were and continue to be my heroes.
Why do you work in the behavior analysis field?
I work in the behavior analysis field because it really does cover a little bit of everything. You get to work on programs that can assist the way someone communicates or improve someone’s fine motor skills while also working on their behavior. What drives me to do what I do is the progress that my clients make. My brother’s therapists did a lot more than just provide service to him. Those little wins they assisted my brother with helped my brother progress the way he did and it gave my family and I a little bit of hope. I strive to provide that hope for the families that we serve. Hope and comfort that their child is receiving help by someone who genuinely cares and wants them to achieve.
What advice would you give to other Hispanic Americans looking to start their career in this industry?
Do not give up and do not get discouraged. Do not get discouraged because that there are not enough Hispanic Americans in this field yet. Do not get discouraged because you may not speak Spanish fluently. Although language barriers are a factor that can affect services, that is not all you can contribute to. You can contribute to the field by bringing awareness to cultural aspects to your team and to others. If you do speak Spanish but get afraid to translate medical documents because it is intimidating, it is OK. Don’t let that stop you. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues for help. Listen to videos or podcasts in Spanish. Remember, small wins build momentum. You can do it!