NextGen Collective recently spotlighted Karina Mora. Read about her thoughts on assimilation, her various projects and nonprofit work, and more.
Where are you from?
What do you do today and where do you want to go in your career?
I’m a photographer, speaker, and podcast host. As millennials, we’re doing a lot of healing and bridging two completely different generations together. We’re literally holding on to our ancestral roots, while decolonizing our lives. Through my photography, I share my trips to Mexico, and what I’m learning about each city I visit. I also offer framed prints of the pictures I take in Mexico as a way to have a piece of Mexico in your home. Our homes are our safe space and it’s so important to feel like you’re surrounded by things that bring you joy and represent who you are.
This year I started offering guided trips to Mexico. With every group guided trip to Mexico, we are diving deeper, and forming a connection to our ancestral roots while learning about the history, food, and culture of Mexico. As a podcast host, each guest elevates our stories so we can learn, share, and shift the narrative for the next generation.
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
My father. He immigrated to the US when he was young, and has worked hard to provide a different life for his family. He has always taught me to never stop learning, and to always be generous and kind. He set an example as an entrepreneur which inspired me to build a business that also helps other people. He also placed a high value on knowing my culture. We often travel together to Mexico to learn about different cities. It’s been great to take the empowering things he taught me, while also healing from generational traumas and barriers. We now have open conversations about how I’m working to do things differently to build on his cultural legacies.
What do you wish you had known at the start of your career?
That I’m not alone. I tried so hard to assimilate, and play the part, do all the things, but there was a point that I realized I was not being my whole self, and it was exhausting. After having that realization, I worked hard to build a community of fellow Latinas who had similar experiences as first and second generation, and now I know I’m not alone…and, in fact, we are stronger together.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for Latinx professionals early in their careers?
The pressure to assimilate, to play a part to make others comfortable. The struggle is REAL, but eventually that will lead to burnout.
How can Latinx professionals better advocate for themselves?
Standing in their truth. There has been this immense pressure to fit into a certain box in the corporate world, in education, in the creative space; but in reality the most important thing is just to show up as you are. You are enough, and the more that we embrace the beauty in diversity, we will be able to make a difference for the next generation.
What are you most excited for in 2022?
Mexico trips and in-person workshops and events. After two years of being on hold, I’m so excited to have the opportunity to lead and host in-person events again!
When you get a new idea what’s the first thing you do with it?
I write it down! I have so many paper notebooks and notes apps so I can write ideas down whenever they pop up. Writing it down raises the possibility of me being able to take it from an idea to making it a reality.
Then, after looking at it over and over again, it’s easier to start developing the idea further until it comes together as a plan so I can take action on bringing it to life.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As a photographer I love to share the beauty of Mexico and share my story. As a podcast host and speaker, I LOVE being able to hear and share other people’s amazing stories. I also love being able to facilitate discussions to help us heal and transform ourselves in order to pour into the next generation.
Which causes are you passionate about?
I’m on the board of the nonprofit The Firehouse Dream, an organization founded by my friend Jasmine Lopez. The Firehouse Dream provides young adults from communities that have experienced disinvestment with opportunities to discover creative skill sets like photography, cinematography, and brand identity, while being equipped with financial wellness and other tools needed to create an income, and to partner their lived experiences with purpose allowing them to thrive. It’s an honor to be part of such an amazing organization.