Venezuelan Activist Wants Students To Embrace Their Individuality

Mariana Atencio speaking at the FIU Center for Leadership conference at Graham Center. Jordan Coll/PantherNOW

By: Jordan Coll / Assistant News Director

Mariana Atencio, author, and public speaker from Venezuela urged students to not “give someone the pen to write your story,” at a panel hosted by the Honors College.

She spoke about self-development and key leadership skills on Feb. 13 at the Graham Center Ballrooms. The panel was hosted by the Honors College along with the Center for Leadership program.

As a college student participating in Venezuela’s pro-democracy movement, she was tear-gassed and faced several forms of adversity. She later decided to leave the country after going out for a hike and ending up with a gun pointed at her head.

Once Atencio entered the United States in 2008, she faced several challenges as an immigrant. Entering college in the U.S she began to see the pressures that came along with being a Hispanic woman.

“I believe what made me different is what made me succeed,” said Atencio. 

Her message on valuing the role one plays in society was brought up to students who felt they are discriminated against on the basis of their heritage. 

As a former NBC/MSNBC reporter, Atencio felt that her calling was to always help people improve their lives by taking leaps of faith in all walks of life.

Studies by the Radio Television Digital News Association in 2012-2016 suggests that newsroom staff were 77 to 79 percent white, and primarily male.

During her time as a news reporter, she mentioned how the Latino community to this day is underrepresented, “but I faced it head-on,” said Atencio. 

Working as a news anchor for Univision and transitioning to a reporter at NBC “the demand for covering stories was quite different, feeling it was much tougher in NBC,” said Atencio. 

Covering stories such as government protests, presidential campaigns, global natural catastrophes, and others.

Studying marketing in Venezuela she felt that her passions lied with journalism. 

“All my life I have always been a searcher for purpose and I found it as a reporter,” said Atencio. 

 The first 50 students to arrive were given a free copy of the book. “Perfectly You: Embracing the Power of Being Real”. The book is intended to help readers see how their perceived weaknesses can actually be their strengths.

“The message of my book is that you too can make it. By sharing my journey, I hope to inspire others on their journey,” said Atencio. 

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