This week, we’re featuring millennial techie Ariel Lopez as our Everyday Chica. La boricua spoke with Ain’t I Latina? about why she founded 2020Shift, how her mamá has influenced her and why Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a #latinawhorocks.
You’re the founder of 2020Shift, a social enterprise invested in connecting recent grads and current students with opportunities in technology and digital media. What prompted you to start this venture?
I was prompted to start the venture after looking closely at the diversity gap in the space. With an average of 2% Blacks and 4% Hispanics at a number of well known tech companies, it’s obvious enough isn’t being done to employ underrepresented individuals. The goal of 2020Shift is to provide access, education, and resources to minority students and recent grads so they can be successful. There’s a big misconception on what it means to work for a tech company, and a huge disparity in the actual workforce itself; we’re here to change that.
We’re also focused on exposing students to the different opportunities available to them within technology and digital media. You don’t have to learn how to code to get a job you love. Your career should be a mixture of your skills, interests, and aspirations; we want to help people make their passions profitable.
In addition to 2020Shift, you’re the community manager at Infusion. How do you balance your full-time job and your startup?
I wish I had the right answer to this question. (Laughs.) I honestly can’t tell you how I balance it all. I think for me it’s making a to-do list for 2020 and Infusion everyday. I usually have 5-10 goals for each and I do my best to meet them; however, if I don’t, I don’t beat myself up about it. I believe in doing your best everyday and having faith that things will figure themselves out.
How do you identity? Do you consider yourself Afro-Latina, or use another term to describe your race and/or ethnicity?
I definitely consider myself Afro-Latina, but if someone asks me what I am I say Black and Puerto Rican. Most importantly, I’m just me! My race has everything to do with who I am as a person but I strive not to represent any stereotypes. It’s not an easy thing to do, especially being a minority female in business. Often people will have a preconceived notion of what you’re going to be like, I like to surprise them.
What is your earliest memory of identifying as Afro-Latina? How did you come to identify as such?
I would say my earliest memory was probably in first or second grade. Not many people around looked like me, so I was often questioned about my background. I grew up in rural North Carolina where there wasn’t a ton of diversity. Everyone was pretty much Black or white, with a small percentage of Mexicans. Puerto Rican was a foreign thing to most, so I always had to explain myself. Also having the last name Lopez doesn’t make things much easier – “What are you” is usually the first question I hear.
Which Latina matriarch do you most identify with and why?
I would say Sonia Sotomayor as I’ve always been extremely politically driven. My life plan for a while was to go to law school, work my way up in Washington, and become a Supreme Court judge. I think that’s changed a bit, but it’s still a part of who I am.
Who inspires you?
My mom by far is my biggest inspiration. I know it’s super cliché, but I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t. I watched that woman make a way out of no way so many times; she has everything to do with my strength as a person and my faith. My mom showed me that it’s not about where you come from but the destination that matters. I carry that with me in everything I do. Regardless of circumstances I believe you have the power to create your own destiny. When things get rough that keeps me going.