On March 8, female students from Houston ISD's Chavez High School visited BBVA Compass Stadium to celebrate International Women’s Day. The student group consisted of the girls’ soccer team and members of the Just Keep Livin Foundation which focuses on the health and well-being of youth.
The visit included a behind-the-scenes tour and career panelist to hear from the following women who currently work in the Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash and BBVA Compass Stadium front office:
- Tiffani Whittington – Sr. Director, Fan Relations
- Pierina Inciarte – Coordinator, Video Services
- Martha Carvajal – Manager, Premium Service
- Liliana Cardenas – Administrative Assistant, Dynamo Academy
- Anakaren Martinez – Supervisor, Fanatics Team Store
- Veronica Latsko – Professional Soccer Player, Houston Dash
Panelists shared their experience as students and professionals, provided advice on how to achieve goals and overcome challenges, and answered questions directly from the students. The event ended with a gratitude circle, a cornerstone of the Just Keep Livin Foundation where students, teachers and panelists alike expressed their excitement around the camaraderie within the group and the perspective the day together gave them.
Christy Saldivar, a librarian at Chavez High School and chaperone on the trip commented, “Everything the panelists said was inspirational and I think it is so motivational for our students to see people that look like them, even a Chavez alumna, in a place where they are happy and successful and hear how they overcame obstacles to get here.“
The alumna mentioned was Liliana Cardenas, a graduate of Chavez High School and University of Houston. “It’s pretty cool to see them out here. The fact that I came from Chavez too and that they get these types of opportunities are amazing to see,” Cardenas said. “The stories and advice my coworkers shared about mentality and focus can apply to careers, but also throughout life.”
The students themselves took away quite a bit of inspiration as well. Valeria Moncada, a junior who hopes to pursue a career in psychology or sports medicine, shared that her favorite piece of advice from the panel was to always be the most hardworking person in the room and how important it is to keep focused on what you want regardless of what other people may do or say. “It meant so much to hear how I should value myself as a woman; that we are powerful, strong and worthy and we can be so many different things,” she said.
Senior Sjade Hollis recognized that she hasn’t received many experiences to interact with women with careers like the ones on the panel. “I can be easily overwhelmed or scared at times," Hollis said, "but after hearing from the panelists I feel more confident in myself and that by doing the right things I can be as successful as the women up there.” She has plans to attend community college and pursue a career as a psychologist.
The inspiration from the day spread well beyond the students in the room. Veronica Latsko, forward for the Houston Dash, mentioned several times how grateful she was to participate.
“I never really get to meet the people who work behind the scenes, especially the women. The people and the resources devoted to the team are what make the Dash possible,” Latsko said. “Hearing their stories is incredible. To have an event like this and see how engaged the girls were and willing to ask questions is so inspiring.”