Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

At Whitley Penn, we are proud of the diverse experiences and identities that shape our firm, and celebrate this by fostering an inclusive environment that values diverse perspectives and cultural experiences. Hispanic Heritage Month is a special time for us to celebrate the rich history, traditions, and contributions of Hispanic and Latino communities. Join us in hearing from our team about their pride in the Hispanic community and culture.

Q: How has your heritage shaped your identity and values?

Brenda Hernandez: I admire my heritage to the greatest extent. It’s because of my heritage that I do my best to live life with an open mind and show kindness to others.

Lupe Garcia: Both sides of my family are blue-collar and very hardworking. Never did I hear my parents complain about working too many hours, I thought a 50-60 hour work-week was normal. Did we have everything we wanted growing up? No, but we were never without what we needed. Working hard and providing for your family, extended family too, was engrained in me early on. Expenses for extracurricular activities in high school were starting to add up so I applied for a cashier position at Kroger, a grocery store close to home. My first day was my 16th birthday. My mom was not happy about this and felt working was going to affect my grades. She always emphasized doing well in school and pursuing an education after high school so she refused to give me a ride to or from Kroger. Several times I would have to walk to Kroger and/or walk home. I didn’t lose focus on school and my grades didn’t suffer. Since then, I’ve always had a job, sometimes two. My mentality of working hard has not stopped and neither has pursuing an education. You never stop learning with a career in accounting, there are always new pronouncements, new requirements, CPE requirements, etc. that require continuous training.

Stephanie Servin: I come from a typical Mexican-American family; my heritage has shaped everything about who I am today. Being a Mexican-American, I identify with both Mexican and American cultures, my family participates in both Mexican and American traditions. My heritage has influenced me in the food I love to eat, the music I love to listen to, the languages I speak, the places I’ve traveled to, the work ethic I have, and the goals I have for myself in my career. I love knowing I can have the best of both worlds, living an American dream while having pride in my Mexican heritage and culture.

Q: Who are some influential Hispanic figures or role models that have inspired you?

Brenda Hernandez: I would have to say my dad. He has always taught me to honor my roots and embrace who I am. To never let anyone define me.

Lupe Garcia: I know there were other influential Hispanic figures in the 80s and 90s, but the most influential Hispanic figures in my life growing up were my parents. They have inspired me because I knew their backgrounds, their stories, and their struggles. It always put everything going on in my world into perspective and I realized at a young age how blessed and fortunate I was. It seems cliché to say, but they truly wanted a better life for their children, and I was going to do everything in my power and ability to not let them down. I will give honorable mention to Ricardo Valenzuela (Richie Valens). La Bamba was a movie I grew up watching over and over (and quoting ever since!). I am surprised we didn’t wear out the VHS tape.

Stephanie Servin: A few influential Hispanic figures in my life are Selena Quintanilla, a Tejano Music Artist, Jose M Hernandez, a NASA Astronaut, Daniel Lubetzky, the Founder of Kind Bars and a social entrepreneur, Juan Toscano-Anderson, an NBA Player and the only Mexican-American player to win an NBA title, and Vicente Fernandez, a Mexican Mariachi Artist.

Q: What are some Hispanic traditions dishes that are important to you and your family?

Brenda Hernandez: Not necessarily a dish, but technically a side, hand-made flour tortillas! Tortillas go great with anything. Of course, you can never go wrong with making burritos or tacos, but in my family, this is considered our eating utensil too! I don’t recall my family hardly ever using knives, forks or spoons when having our meals.

Lupe Garcia: Food, music, and laughter come to mind. Any celebration was going to have plenty of all three. Fideo con pollo, arroz, frijoles, y tortillas were staples in our house growing up. If tamales, fajitas, or any type of pan dulce was on the table, they would be devoured in short order.

Stephanie Servin: My family gathers every Sunday for lunch to have Menudo, a traditional Mexican dish. This is a tradition my grandmother in Mexico started; all my aunts, uncles, and cousins meet at my grandmother’s house to have Menudo together and gather as a family. This is a tradition that my mother has continued, for my immediate family. I can always count on a hot bowl of Menudo every Sunday.

Brenda Hernandez

People Team

Onboarding & TOA Specialist

Lupe Garcia

Public Sector Audit


Stephanie Servin

Client Accounting & Advisory Services (CAAS)

Senior Associate

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in accounting, and do you have any advice for Hispanic students and young professionals who are considering this path?

Brenda Hernandez: I work on the People Team (Human Resources) at the firm, and my experience since I’ve first joined has been wonderful and quite the journey. I chose to work in the accounting industry for its professionalism, challenge, and growth opportunities.

For any student that has the desire to go into either field, my advice is to believe in yourself. Confidence and self-awareness take time to grow and that’s okay. In any career path, an employer will always narrow it down to character. You can have all knowledge and expertise under your belt, but what they seek is if you’ll be a fit for their team. Believe me when I say that there will be plenty of No’s thrown your way, but as a professional, especially for a student, one should not look at a “No” as a rejection but as a redirection!

Lupe Garcia: I didn’t know any accountants growing up or even that accounting was a career path. I do remember in fourth grade writing a paper that I wanted to be a stockbroker. Maybe it was because my dad trusted me with make his 401k allocations. Dad, what were you thinking?!? Accounting was not my initial career path and honestly, I was lost the first couple of years of my college career. At one point, I remember doubting if college was even for me. When I found my way to the University of Houston’s Bauer College of Business, I knew I had found the perfect fit for me. Now in 2023, students have access to resources to research and explore potential career paths in the palm of their hand. However, nothing replaces being able to speak to someone that can answer questions and give real-life testimonials on what a career in accounting looks like.  Students need to seek out family members, family friends, teachers, counselors, religious leaders, etc. to find someone that can give them this valuable information and guidance.

Stephanie Servin: I always knew I had an aptitude for math and solving puzzles, so naturally I gravitated towards accounting when I was choosing a major in college. When I was growing up, I also saw my parents operate their small business, and they inspired me to want to help people like them. Accounting has become my means of helping people.

My advice for Hispanic students and young professionals is to join organizations focused on professional development. I, myself, joined organizations like Beta Alpha Psi and the Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA), while in college. It is the best way to network and meet professionals to connect with. Pursue professional credentials such as the CPA. I’ve learned that only 10.8% of CPAs in the United States are of Hispanic heritage. I aspire to become a CPA and hope to be a part of the generation that has helped generate more Hispanic CPAs. Lastly, use your bilingual skill set in the professional setting. There are many advantages of being a bilingual Accountant, such as opening doors to be able to assist and provide services to a wider community of clients, both nationally and internationally. Being bilingual enhances communication, cultural understanding, and marketability, making it a valuable skill set in today’s diverse world.

Q: In your opinion, what is the significance of Hispanic Heritage Month, and how can we continue to celebrate and promote Hispanic culture and achievements beyond this month?

Brenda Hernandez: I believe Hispanic Heritage Month is all about honoring one’s roots and sharing one’s culture with others to bring forward unity. Hispanics show pride and celebrate their culture is many ways such as through music, dance and my personal favorite, food! One can never go wrong with Taco Tuesdays!

Lupe Garcia: As of sometime in 2021 or 2022, Hispanics officially make up the biggest share of Texas’ population, a fact not many people realize. Hispanics are a large part of the history of this state that precedes Texas or the United States. Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to recognize and celebrate all the contributions Hispanic Americans have made. The history we all learned in school is the history that someone, somewhere decided was the history we needed to read and hear about but there are so many untold stories that are at risk of being lost to time. Hispanic Heritage Month is the perfect opportunity to educate people about all the accomplishments and influences that the Hispanic culture has contributed. If this is important to you, there are several organizations that are dedicated to Hispanic and Latino culture. Subscribe, share, like, comment, and donate so that they know their mission is important to you.

Stephanie Sevin: I view Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to recognize and celebrate Hispanic and Latino history, achievements, and contributions to society. I also see this month as an opportunity to show the pride I have in my heritage.  Beyond this month, we can all continue to have conversations about the importance of our own unique heritages. Educating ourselves this way will be a great way to build a bridge between different cultural groups, promoting understanding and inclusivity.