As a graduate student at Texas A&M University, Dr. Jeniree Flores Delgado ’16 never pictured herself as a future podcaster.
A native of San Cristóbal, Venezuela, Flores Delgado had earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida prior to coming to Texas A&M in fall 2011 to pursue her doctorate in the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry as a member of Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Dr. Karen L. Wooley’s polymer chemistry-based research group. She successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation in December 2016 and joined BASF’s Ph.D. Leadership Development Program, where she held positions in technical services, strategic marketing and product development in the respective areas of pigments, oilfield chemistry and personal care.
After completion of the program and the whirlwind experience of living in three different cities — Detroit, Houston and New York City — within the span of two years, Flores Delgado decided to return to Houston, where she currently works a senior research scientist and technical marketing manager in the field of metal additive manufacturing, also known as metal 3-D printing.
In July 2020, she embarked on her latest professional endeavor, launching the LatinX Can podcast series she says was inspired in part by her observations to date in industry.
“My motivation for the podcast arose from my experience in corporate America and the lack of representation of Latinx professionals at this level,” Flores Delgado said. “Once I left academia, I realized that there is a long way to go in our efforts of diversity and inclusion. Although the Latinx community is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the U.S. and represents around 18 percent of its population, we are still highly underrepresented in many fields, especially professional fields.”
Flores Delgado believes one reason for this underrepresentation is that the Latin American community has yet to accumulate similar generational knowledge and wealth that other demographic groups within the U.S. have. She sees LatinX Can as her golden, if not maroon, opportunity to make gains in both areas by highlighting the achievements of her peers, many of whom not only are fellow Latinx professionals but also fellow Aggies.
“I realized I had access to an incredible network of professionals, including the Aggie Network, and that by interviewing them, we could share the tips and tricks that helped all of us reach our goals,” Flores Delgado said.
Despite having zero background in podcasting, Flores Delgado recalls she soon found herself watching YouTube videos to learn about the necessary equipment. She also attended a webinar that covered the logistics of podcasting, including where to get music, what type of equipment to use and how to publish episodes via a podcast host. She then taught herself how to edit the audio files and mix in the music.
“This is where having a Ph.D. is useful, because it helped me master the skill of teaching myself,” she said. “This process has been a lot of trial and error and remembering what worked and what didn’t work, just like the research process.”
With some basic knowledge regarding editing, adding music and streamlining her purpose under her broadcasting belt, Flores Delgado put together a trailer episode to share with a short list of potential guests. Summoning her nerve while simultaneously tamping down her fear of rejection, she asked fellow Texas A&M chemistry graduate and Wooley Lab member Dr. Stephanie Florez-Pollack ’13 — one of two 2013 recipients of the prestigious Brown-Rudder Award honoring Texas A&M’s top two graduating seniors — to be her first interviewee. The rest, as they say, is inspirational history.
“I have to thank Dr. Stephanie Florez-Pollack for being the brave soul to accept the initial invitation,” Flores Delgado said. “We had a first meeting to go over the topics we could cover during the interview, and then we met a second time to record the first episode.”
Flores Delgado says she chooses her subjects based on the goals she sets up for each podcast. If her focus appears to gravitate toward STEM, that’s because it does, and for good reason.
“My interest leans more toward the STEM fields because I believe it can provide opportunities for the Latinx community that other fields don’t offer, especially when it comes to financial assistance, which is a big limiting factor for people that want to pursue graduate or professional school,” she added. “I also choose individuals who have a desire to help their community and who understand we have been privileged to find opportunities and that our job now is to pass those forward.”
Although it took her nearly a year to muster the courage to launch the podcast, Flores Delgado says two months and seven episodes later, she’s glad she made the leap to practice what she’s preaching.
“My goal is to highlight the stories of Latinx professionals who have worked so hard to achieve their goals and to represent the great diversity of the Latinx community,” Flores Delgado said. “I want to inspire people to dream big and to provide actionable knowledge that can help everyone turn their dreams into reality.
“I hope many Latinx students, including those at Texas A&M, learn about it so that they can see themselves represented and find inspiration to keep working hard to achieve their own goals.”
LatinX Can is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts. Catch previous episodes and learn more about the series at https://www.buzzsprout.com/765251.