Kelly Prestel

1) Please explain what you do for living.

At present, I am the Associate Director of Education at the Boch Center in Boston, MA. I oversee our award-winning creative youth employment programs, City Spotlights Summer Leadership Program and the Teen Leadership Council. These programs employ over 70 teens throughout the year to train as community artists and advocates for social change.


2) How important in your identity is being Latino?

Being Latinx grows in importance with each passing day. I am a mixed kid with only one Latinx parent. I am white-passing, and felt like I could not call myself Latinx throughout my childhood because I didn't look or speak the part. It took encouragement from my mother and a friend/mentor to embrace my Latinx identity. As I continued my education in graduate school, I realized that being Latinx wasn't defined solely on your skin color or language. It's about the culture, the people, the pride we take in our families and communities. I am working with a sizable Latinx youth community in Boston, and hope to continue using my talents in leadership and the performing arts to provide youth development opportunities to as many Latinx youth as possible.


3) Is there something that you particularly value of your nationality or being Latino?

I take great pride in our commitment to family and community, as well as our resiliency. It is a core value in my life, and I see myriad examples of this value in practice around the world. It's evident in the outpouring of support led by influential Latinx people in the recovery efforts following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. While our communities may face insurmountable challenges, I often witness Latinx folks stand tall in the face of adversity and march forward. I aspire to live these traits unconditionally in my life, and for that, I am grateful. Oh, and also the food!


4) Have you been treated differently because of being Latino (in the workplace, in public settings…etc.)?

If so, can you describe a situation?

As I mentioned, I do not "pass" as Latinx to most people. I am used to folks looking at me curiously when I tell them of my Latinx identity, as if they are trying to find it in my appearance. In the past, I would overly explain my background and try my damnedest to pronounce every Spanish word with a strong accent, as if to prove my story. I finally feel confident enough in my identity to let those looks and questions roll off my shoulder. I don't have to explain who I am to anyone; I can just be me.