10 Hispanic People Who Have Influenced the World, and Me

Categories: Diversity & Inclusion, IDEA Group, Hispanic Heritage Month

Growing up and being first generation Mexican American, it was important to me to seek role models that looked just like me. Being Hispanic American is something bigger than just a label. It is your upbringing, the challenges faced being a minority, learning to balance being Hispanic and American enough at the same time, and overall, being the product of the American dream my parents once chased.

Hispanics have influenced our society in different ways and industries not just in the United States but worldwide. Here are the top 10 Hispanic people who have made an impact on society and inspire me.

  1. Eugenio Derbez
    Eugenio Derbez
    Photo Source: Angela Weiss/Getty Images
    Eugenio Derbez is a Mexican actor, comedian, director and producer. With many growing up watching his shows like “La Familia P. Luche” or “XH DRBZ,” he is a well-known Hispanic household name. After becoming very successful in Spanish media, he decided to focus on acting in English and set his sights on Hollywood films. Some movies he starred in include “How to Be a Latin Lover” and “Overboard.". In 2016, a star was added to the Hollywood Walk of Fame recognizing his success in Hollywood.
  2. Carolina Herrera
    Carolina Herrera
    Photo Source: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
    Carolina Herrera is an international fashion designer from Venezuela, known for her elegant styles and designs that have splashed major runways and red carpets for decades. In fact, Herrera has designed clothes for most almost all of the U.S. First Ladies since Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Herrera started her fashion designing career at age 40, and since then, has not stopped designing her glamorous collections. In 2014, Herrera was awarded the Couture Council Award for her global brand and impact in the fashion industry.
  3. Alberto “Beto” Perez

    Alberto “Beto” Perez is one of the founders of Zumba, a widely popular aerobic dance workout. Perez is from Cali, Colombia and moved to the United States to seek business ventures, where he eventually created this exercise program by mistake. Working as an aerobic teacher, he once forgot his aerobic music list and impulsively improvised by using upbeat, Latin music for the dance exercise instead. His style of fitness programming has gone global, with instructors leading Zumba classes in local communities and large-scale gyms, fitness centers and wellness retreats, all uniting through a love of dance and music.
  4. Frida Kahlo
    Frida Kahlo
    Photo Source: Bettmann/Getty Images
    One of the most well-known artists in the world is Frida Kahlo. She was born and raised in Mexico in “La Casa Azul,” or “The Blue House” in English. She was known for her art style of realism and her inspiration for her work was getting to know her greatest muse – herself. Many of Kahlo’s paintings depict her life and her emotions, which are expressed in various forms of color and technique. Her art was also greatly influenced by both her European and Mexican background, but it was inspiration from her Mexican roots that represented her work best throughout her life. During her time, Kahlo was very outspoken about her opinions and managed to shake social norms for women. To this day, she is one the most famous artists whose work is recognized and appreciated across the globe.
  5. Pitbull
    Photo Source: Donald Kravitz/Getty Images
    Mr. Worldwide, Mr. 305 or most commonly, Pitbull, are the stage names of Armando Christian Pérez. He is of Cuban American descent and grew up in Miami, Florida. Pitbull has an optimism and determination that has made him the international icon he is today. Not only has this Grammy-winning, but international star also taken the music industry by storm, Pitbull has also managed to influence and help the Hispanic community through entrepreneurship, education and advocating. He has his own record label called Mr. 305 Inc that specializes in reggaeton and hip hop acts. Pitbull runs a non-profit education organization called SLAM! that supports the expansion and operations of tuition-free, public charter schools in underrepresented communities nationwide.
  6. Sonia Sotomayor
    Sonia Sotomayor
    Photo Source: Paul Marotta/Getty Images
    Sonia Sotomayor has been a U.S. Supreme Court Justice since 2009 and has trailblazed that space for so many. As first-generation Puerto Rican American, Sotomayor is the first Hispanic woman to be appointed to this prestigious role, and the first minority to hold this position. Growing up in the Bronx, she never imagined being a supreme court justice, but she knew she wanted to chase her dreams as a lawyer and make her family proud. Achieving her dreams and then some, Sotomayor will forever be known for her contributions advocating for criminal justice reform, women’s rights and encouraging higher education endeavors within the Hispanic community.
  7. Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena
    Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena
    Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
    Guillermo Gonzales Camarena is a name many may not know, but his invention quite literally turned life as we know it from black and white to color, via TV that is. In 1940, Camarena patented a chromoscopic adapter that allowed televisions to capture color on the screen. It was groundbreaking, especially for the times, and was the first patent for color TV in history. His invention grew global recognition and in 1979, NASA transmitted images while on a space mission to Jupiter through his discovery.
  8. Lionel Messi
    Lionel Messi
    Photo Source: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Associated Press
    In Argentina, soccer is not just a sport it is a way of life, and Lionel Messi is a name that everyone knows. Messi has played for multiple European soccer clubs but is currently a part of the national Argentina football team and Paris Saint-Germain football club. Throughout his career, he has set records like “most goals made in a calendar year,” and won numerous awards, often being referred to as the greatest soccer player in the world. Messi was named FIFA’s World Player of the Year five times and Europe’s Ballon d’Or winner six times. He has inspired soccer players of all ages and different levels of experience to continue chasing their dreams, especially in Argentina.
  9. Jorge Ramos
    Jorge Ramos
    Photo Source: Alan Diaz/Associated Press
    Since 1986, Jorge Ramos has been a well-known reporter and anchor for Univision. He was part of the rise of Spanish broadcasting in the United States, and has interviewed multiple political figures and celebrities who have impacted modern society. Ramos has been recognized for his hard work with multiple awards, including winning 8 Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Ramos is a trailblazer in the Spanish broadcasting world and has shown his work ethic throughout the years.
  10. Dolores Huerta
    Dolores Huerta
    Photo Source: Cathy Murphy/Getty Images
    “Si se puede!,” is a slogan from Dolores Huerta, a pivotal member of the Chicano civil rights movement. Huerta is an American labor leader, civil rights activist and co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, now known as United Farm Workers. Well-known for her efforts during the California farm workers’ movement in the 1960s and ‘70s, Huerta has dedicated her life to advocating for workers and women’s rights. In 1998, she received the Elanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from President Bill Clinton, and in 2012 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama.

    A common phrase I grew up hearing in Spanish is “ponte las pilas,” which is another way of saying, “focus to reach your goals.” These 10 Hispanic influencers were determined and focused on their goals to the point that they ended up leaving their mark in their industries and in history. As I begin my career journey, I aspire to be a role model to someone the same way these people have influenced me to never give up and always give it my all.