Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, and the Somos Energy Group is honoring people of Hispanic heritage by featuring Jorge Lopez, work management specialist for Energy Supply and Fermi, and a member of Somos. We asked him to share his thoughts on what Hispanic heritage means to him. Read on to hear his story.

How has your culture shaped your life and career?
My Mexican-American upbringing has shaped my identity. I’m proud to have grown up with strong values on family and education. My parents raised me to know that family is everything, that we support each other no matter what. My success is their success. I’m a first-generation Latinx college graduate with a fruitful career at DTE. This has allowed me to pay it forward and contribute to the Latinx community with a focus on higher education. I use Somos to support and develop Latinx talent through DTE programs such as STEP. Our company’s Summer Talent Exposure Program brings diverse students into our company as interns to provide us with diverse ideas and talents while also helping the students gain valuable work experience and exposure to potential career paths. We have authentic, open dialogue about our experiences, it’s a learning moment for both employees and interns.

Can you share a personal story from your culture about a person who had some impact on you?
Our former Somos executive sponsor, JoAnn Chavez, senior vice president and chief legal officer, has continued to have a tremendous impact since I first started as a student co-op. Her mentorship has developed my leadership skills and ability to empower the next generation of Latinx professionals. A memorable lesson JoAnn imparted is to be proud of my dual identities and that success does not require assimilation.

Can you share a favorite memory about Somos, in person before the pandemic or virtually during the pandemic?
Together with our current executive sponsor, Camilo Serna, vice president, Regulatory Affairs, and with all of our SOMOS members, our objective is to create a supportive DTE community and explore ways to celebrate our cultural diversity for all. My favorite thing about Somos is how we’ve managed to stay connected virtually during the pandemic. A fun way to bring a community together is through cuisine. Somos recently hosted an interactive virtual cook-along with Chef Gabriel Jonas from Chicago. We partnered up with our company’s Energize Your Life team to create a fun experience with a diverse audience. Apart from appreciation for our cultural diversity in our delicious meals, I learned helpful cooking tips and a new recipe for Salmon Vera Cruz.

Another favorite memory was when our DTE team won our first fútbol match at the Copa Motor City!