SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO) is hosting its 27th annual professional development and training symposium March 20-24 at the Admiral Kidd Club on board Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Center.
The symposium includes educational and training development sessions, mentoring opportunities, and senior service leadership presentations focused on the theme, "Hispanic Americans: Our Rich Culture Contributing to America's Future."
"It's extremely important we get to know each other and learn about each other," said Dr. Sandra J. Rodriguez, the Mexican American National Association's chair of the board of directors, and symposium panelist, "We [Latin-Americans] have been in the United States for 500 years and for many years we've been the invisible minority. These organizations help us join together, support each other, and speak in a unified voice for opportunity. We need to be active and make a difference."
One of Rodriguez's fellow panelists, Raymond G. Mellado, CEO of the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation, explained how there are many different cultures and communities within the Latin-American ethnic group.
"We need to recognize and celebrate the differences between a Mexican-American and a Dominican-American and so on," Mellado said. "We need to educate ourselves about the cultural and biological differences.
ANSO's mission is to assist officer recruitment and retention efforts in the Hispanic community; support and nurture junior enlisted personnel desiring to apply for officer programs; and foster the professional growth and development of Hispanic sea services.
Storekeeper 2nd Class (AW/SW) John Laureda, of Naval Air Station North Island's Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL)-49, said he came to the symposium to get educated on the different opportunities for Latin-American Sailors.
"I want to learn as much as I can during the conference so I can take information to my command and help spread the word," Laureda said. "I think ANSO offers a great foundation for people to build on and it encourages everyone to stand up for our culture."
Another HSL-49 Sailor attending the symposium explained how the Navy was a very diverse environment.
"The Navy has people from all cultures and all races," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW/SW) Keala Mattos. "We're a big mixing pot. A conference like this one helps us gain the courage to celebrate our differences and be proud of who we are."
ANSO fosters the recognition and advancement of Hispanic officers in the uniformed naval services. It was formally established in February 1981 to address Hispanic recruiting and retention issues and to serve as a link between the Hispanic community and the sea services.
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