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Zurich North America colleagues Christian Vargas, Cecilia Parnell, Juan Leal and Dawn Mills, all of whom are members of LUZ: Latinos Unidos for Zurich, reflected on their pride in their past during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Christian Vargas (clockwise from top left) thinks of love, unity and respect when he reflects on his Dominican heritage. “Everyone in my culture is taught how to give love as well as how to receive love,” said Vargas, a Market-Facing Underwriting Trainee at Zurich. “Growing up, my family struggled financially, but one thing we never failed to do was show each other love as well as compassion. Everyone in my culture is taught to be unified. A way I describe it is, if one falls we all fall. (And) everyone is respected in my culture. Whether you’re an elder or very young, your voice is heard and everyone’s opinion matters.”

Cecilia Parnell talks about how her background broadens her perspective. “For me, I am a Mexican, I am also American and I am Latina. No matter how you identify, whether Latino, Latina, Latinx or Hispanic, there’s a place for you in this community, and that makes me so happy and proud,” said Parnell, a Customer Experience Manager at Zurich and Co-Chair of LUZ. 

Juan Leal, as a child, sometimes felt embarrassed about his background. Now he feels proud. “Being born in Mexico and raised in the United States, many times, my family and I felt out of place. Nevertheless our Latino background meant we were always together as a family,” said Leal, a Senior Middle Market Underwriter for Zurich.  “I now realize the sacrifices my family made to pave the way for my sisters and I to fight for a shot at the American dream. I’ve also grown to realize that my Latino background has proved to be an enormous asset in the workplace. This is what my parents, who were migrant farm workers, would have wanted for me. So when I think about how I feel being Latino, I feel a sense of responsibility, pride, respect, grit, inspiration and loyalty.”

Dawn Mills smiles about the skeptical looks she sometimes gets when she says she is of Hispanic descent. “I get a lot of, ‘you don’t look Spanish; do you speak Spanish?’ And that’s why Hispanic Heritage Month is important to me. It’s more than a look, it’s more than a language I speak. It’s who I am, it’s how I was raised, it’s my perspective,” said Mills, a Staff Legal Administrative Manager at Zurich. “Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for us to connect on our similarities and explore differences in our culture.”

Read more about Parnell and Hispanic Heritage Month at Zurich here.