I can't believe that next month will be five years that I first created 'Carlitos' World,' and began writing right here for En La Vida.
At the time I was working in the field of public health and decided to address the issue of HIV/AIDS among Latinas in Chicago as my first article. To my surprise the article was well received by those I shared it with and the feedback I received from old professors at my school was remarkable. That prompted me to continue writing with the hopes of entertaining, educating and informing people of what was going on in the community.
For the longest time, I never focused on my life or on the experiences I had encountered growing up as a Latino because I was enjoying informing people of what was going on in this great world in which we live today. After thinking long and hard about it, I decided something was missing in my writing and that was entertaining and educating people. From that point I wasn't sure what direction I would take to accomplish that, and I struggled before I came out with a piece about how I became involved in writing articles and short stories.
I then started getting responses from readers who wanted to inquire more about why I started writing and how they can put their thoughts onto paper. I tried my best to teach one girl, who asked for help, but it turned out that writing wasn't something she enjoyed at all, but the experience of trying to bring writing into her life was fun. I do have to admit that time really does fly when you are doing the things that you enjoy the most.
Since I joined the Windy City Media Group in 1998 I have always tried to push other Latinos like myself to share their stories and thoughts with others for the magazine. Happily, some did for a short time, but others, well they just didn't have the passion I've had since I was in the fourth grade.
It all started off with short stories I was required to turn in for English class, and slowly turned into journals for high school and college projects to personal relief from real-life troubles.
These last five years that I've participated in this magazine I was privileged enough to have met a lot of inspiring individuals who have motivated me to move ahead and follow my dreams in life. I have covered health issues such as Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV/AIDS, promoting the importance of getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases. I have also done great tributes to my fallen colleagues who spent their whole lives advocating for what was right and wrong in the world we live in.
During this time I've also had the grand opportunity to have met and interviewed some great stars like Academy Award-nominee Edward James Olmos (Selena, My Family/Mi Familia and American Family) and Grammy Award-winner Shakira. From the loss of hip hop's own Big Pun to the stories of the Latino community of Chicago.
I was also given the fortunate opportunity to create the first Top 25 Inspiring Latinos in Chicago, but due to my busy schedule I wasn't able to continue that special project annually like I wanted to do for a long time. I however can actually say I did it, and as I look back at the results—I have become very satisfied with the outcome.
I never thought I would get e-mails from any En La Vida readers, but since I began publishing my e-mail address throughout the years, I have had wonderful responses from people in the community telling me how much I have inspired them.
Being involved heavily in the field of HIV/AIDS, I sometimes got involved in controversial issues in which I advocated for our Latino community every day. However, I always maintained my focus on my work as a journalist.
These last five years with En La Vida I have been able to tell the many readers about my life, my dreams, my loves and the people who were making news in the communities of the Windy City. From all my jobs (some may joke) to the helm of the HIV Prevention Planning Group for the city, I have experienced it all (well, not exactly everything), but I have enjoyed sharing it with others.
And look forward to continuing my thoughts with you.