Engage! Cleveland's YP Rising Star: Luis Cartagena

Luis Cartagena By: Annie Morino

According to this issue’s Engage! Cleveland Rising Star, Luis Cartagena, you don’t need to play second base for the Indians in order to drive victories in this city.  In fact, when we asked what Luis’ favorite thing is about being a young professional in Cleveland, he replied, “The tons of opportunities to become a champion of the city! If you want to get involved and make a difference, Cleveland has plenty of opportunities, organizations, and projects a young professional can get involved with!” Luis is Engage! Cleveland’s Rising Star because not only does he make a great point, but he leads by example.

One way to get involved in Cleveland is to work for a cause you are truly passionate about, whether that work is on an employment or volunteer basis. Luis’s work with the Young Latino Network, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, and the Minority Business Development Agency as a Strategic Planning Business Advisor demonstrates how you can integrate your passions with your career.  Working on a service project or a committee with others is a great way to build a network of folks who share your priorities and hopes for the future. In fact, one of Engage! Cleveland’s mission is to match more young professionals to boards and committees of organizations who are looking for fresh ideas and younger perspectives.

For anyone who’s apprehensive about how to get started, Luis’ advises, “Don’t wait for an invitation—if you want to help, show up!” If there is an organization that catches your eye or sponsors an event you find interesting, visit their website and find out how you can help. It’s all about using your talents to improve our community in any way that you can. Volunteering may even help you learn a lesson Luis did not learn until later in his career. Luis was was happy to share this lesson with our readers, “Build your network before you actually need it!” He says. “It is easier to navigate through the landscape and utilize resources when people already know who you are versus trying to ask for their help while [at the same time] introducing yourself and explaining what you do. People have to vet you, get to know you and trust you. It is better to build the relationship before you actually need any assistance.” Volunteering provides great opportunities to build that trust.

If we can boil his message down, it is to become a champion for a cause. Luis’ favorite Cleveland memory is the memory of looking at the inflatable NBA Championship trophy outside of "the Q" during the 2007 NBA Finals. “Who doesn’t love seeing the city on national television?!” he said. But our Rising Star has been a Clevelander long enough to know those moments are to be cherished. Luis moved to Cleveland as a junior in high school from Paterson, New Jersey and never left. The long sports drought and his optimism for the city seem to have fueled his involvement in Cleveland and belief that you have to create your own triumphs in whatever you choose to do in life.  Hopefully, E!C’s Rising Star, Luis Cartagena, inspires our readers to do the same!

If you know a young professional doing amazing things for Cleveland, consider nominating him or her as an Engage! Cleveland Rising Star. Interested readers should contact Engage! Cleveland and nominate their colleagues by sending us an email at Amanda@engagecleveland.com.

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