Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. Generally, the month is a time to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. For me, a Mexican immigrant woman, my heritage is not always all about celebration.
I was born and raised in Mexico in a US border town to a traditional Mexican family. By traditional, I mean a mother who sacrificed her career to stay at home and care for her children and a father that worked long hours to provide for his family. As such, some in my family did not have high expectations for my professional achievements. On the contrary, I was expected to have at most a part-time job that would allow me to fulfill my most important roles: being a wife, to a hardworking man of course, and a mother. Imagine then my father’s surprise when I proclaimed I wanted to be an engineer and have a career. My path from that moment to attending college in the US across from my border town was not easy and not without tears. Thankfully, my mother was my ally. She fought hard for me to have that opportunity and changed the course of my life.
Prior to coming to MIT, I spent 10 years working at an aerospace company where I had opportunities I would have never dreamed of. Those 10 years have not been without similar challenges to the ones I faced as a young Mexican girl wanting to be an engineer. This, compounded with the lack of representation in the spaces I try to occupy, often have made me question my abilities and goals. Nonetheless, I have stayed my course and have found incredible people who have encouraged me.
Early in my career, I worked for a director who became my biggest champion. While I doubted myself and struggled to define my career goals, he encouraged me to dream, and most importantly he showed me by example to have faith in my abilities and potential. His mentorship changed my life and how I think about the future of my career. He was the first person I discussed the possibility of applying to MIT’s LGO program, and he made me feel LGO was within my reach. 7 years later from that conversation and with the support of countless mentors I have had since, I made my way to LGO.
Now being part of the LGO Active Allyship Committee is one way for me to pay respect to my mentors, champions and allies. My hope is that my classmates, the leaders of tomorrow, see the value in diversity such as mine and use their positions to do for other underrepresented minorities (URMs) what my mentors have done for me. When I look back at my heritage, I would like to be able to say that after making it into MIT all I see are the good, amazing things Hispanic culture has to offer, but I am not there yet. So far, being at MIT pursuing dual degrees in engineering and business has not been enough to get rid of the self-doubt or the feeling that I do not belong in places like this.
Nevertheless, from the moment I arrived at MIT I felt I have finally arrived home, and my LGO classmates have made me feel welcome. Through our short time together, they have made me realize that while our struggles and paths to MIT might look completely different, we all have so much to learn from each other. They have shown me kindness, community and have given me so much hope for the next two years. I arrived excited to study aerospace, business, and operations, and while I am still very excited about my studies, my goals for the next two years have changed. MIT is not just a place to get some of the best education available, it is also a place to change, grow and to find your true, free self. My hope is that by the end of my time at MIT, I will gain the confidence to pursue big dreams unapologetically, to lead authentically, and to embrace all the messy parts within myself.
If you see some of yourself in my story, please know MIT and the LGO program are for you, and you belong here. MIT and your future classmates need you to be here to share your story. You will be welcomed and appreciated for who you are. I hope to see you around next year.
Blanca Murga, LGO ’24
MBA/MS in Aeronautics & Astronautics