My First Latina Supervisor

Martha (left), Kristy (center), and Cynthia (right) at a Kemp’s ridley hatchling public release.

One of the reasons I took the internship at Padre Island National Seashore (PAIS) was because of Cynthia Rubio, a Mexican-American biologist. Cynthia has worked at PAIS for almost twenty-six years in the Division of Sea Turtle Science and Recovery. She interviewed me in the Spring for the History Science position at PAIS and I had never felt more seen by someone. I never had the opportunity to be supervised by a Latina supervisor, so I ecstatically accepted the chance for this internship.

Over the past few months, Cynthia has shared her experience as a woman of color in a science field. Her experiences are riddled with micro-aggressions, racism, and sexism, yet they are also full of perseverance and strength. Cynthia adores her job with the sea turtles, and she supervises with intentionally, admitting to her faults whenever necessary, and with respect for her peers and the sea turtles. Cynthia’s hard work inspires me every day. Her story is one that deserves recognition. Thanks to her efforts, and that of many others of course, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle conservation efforts were and continue to be successful.

During my time at PAIS, Cynthia has shared her salsa recipes with me, while bonding over shared feelings and experiences as Latinas in majority-white spaces. Although I hope I am wrong, I might not encounter another opportunity to be supervised by a Latina woman. I am extremely grateful for Cynthia’s mentorship which has impacted me in ways that I never imagined.


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