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In continuation of the spotlights we promised in our campaign launch post, there are several passionate people behind Impact Hub Houston we want you to meet. Carlos Sotelo (https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlosotelo/) shares how his experiences growing up and helping students as a college counselor led him to join the Impact Hub Houston launch team:

Growing up in working-class Pasadena, I learned some of my greatest values from family and friends who called this hard-working, aspirational community home. Resilience. Echale ganas. Determination.

Still, I longed to expand my horizons beyond the endless refineries located just blocks down from our family’s apartment. I wanted to honor my parents’ sacrifices by taking advantage of every opportunity I could find. As an undocumented student, sometimes that meant creating a few along the way too.

Here, I also learned about what occurs when access to opportunity is limited for those that need it the most. Immigrant day laborers robbed of promised wages. Uninsured individuals unable to afford preventive health care. Financially-stressed parents with more options for predatory payday lenders than asset-building opportunities. Residents putting up with broken infrastructure and regulation-breaking industry. Students falling through the cracks at under-resourced schools.

I took these experiences with me to college. There, I studied public policy to learn how to find solutions to social problems. Thanks to those who helped me overcome the barriers of my educational journey, I believed in the power of education as a driver for positive social change.

The ladder of social mobility needs to be widened for the future of our country. As the one making the generational leap in my own family, I wanted to address the inequities in access to opportunity for all as I began my career.

So when I began serving as a college counselor, I connected with so many of my students who aspired to be the first in their families to go to and graduate from college.

Still, advising them on how to navigate the process of obtaining a postsecondary degree/certification of any kind was not enough. Too many of our students were failing to show up to their first day of college classes. Further, data shows that far too many students of a low-income or underrepresented minority background were not graduating.

With these problems in mind, I went to my first Impact Hub event last year: Open Project Night. I had hoped to just listen to what other people’s challenges or ventures were. Yet, something else happened. I got pushed to present about the problems I faced.

After jotting notes down on paper, I nervously spoke to the crowd about the experiences of my work and students. Soon, my two minutes were up and I started talking with people who came up to me. Just as quickly, my nerves went away. The free beer probably helped too, I may add.

The collaborative energy was infectious. Everyone was friendly and encouraging. People offered helpful advice and their contacts. Feeling uplifted, I returned the favor and visited the other presenters to offer my own support.

I joined Impact Hub Houston because I got pushed. I’m glad I got pushed.

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Because that’s what Impact Hub Houston intends to do for the community of problem solvers. Push them forward towards enacting solutions. Push them to connect with one another to work smarter together than harder alone. Push resources and opportunities in our paths. Push the envelope for what sustainable impact looks like. Push social entrepreneurship as a viable option for addressing our most critical issues.

Being part of the Impact Hub Houston community is an opportunity to ensure a better future for a more equitable and prosperous Houston for future generations. Now, as we get ready to launch, expand our programming, and build our community, I push anyone who cares about making a difference to support and donate to Impact Hub Houston. You’ll be glad you did.

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