Meet Benjamín Pérez, the Advisor Who Wants to Change the Narrative in the Latinx Experience

Benjamín Pérez The Advisor BELatina Latinx
Photo: BELatina.

There is no denying that misogynistic behaviors and problematic attitudes towards women, referred to as machismo, are deeply embedded in the Latinx community. However, many Latinos have decided to change the script. Benjamín Pérez is one of them.

Rather than feeding into the toxicity of machismo, Pérez uses his voice to uplift the entire Latinx community. He does so in a manner that exposes his vulnerability, which is often a stigma for Latinos in the community. 

Pérez, also known as Pérez the Advisor on Instagram, is the founder and host of Find You Purpose and the Latinx Greek Life Podcast.

He has made it his mission to be a vehicle to empower, educate, and guide college students and a community unaccustomed to having genuine guidance from a Latino. As his Instagram username suggests, he advises on the struggles many Latinx face, such as imposter syndrome, career direction, and dealing with life as a first-generation student. 

His teachings and words of motivation can be consumed via Instagram, either on Instagram Lives or his feed, as well as through his podcast. 

Though it’s been established that the Latinx community is not a monolith, there’s no denying that some factors, including stereotypes, are linked to the community more often than not. 

This is why Pérez’s contribution to ending the destructive patterns that the Latinx community has continuously associated Latinos with is so significant. Through his work, he is showing the community that Latinos can be more than their machista counterparts.

In a recent conversation with Benjamín Pérez, BELatina News was able to uncover his motivation and why he has tasked himself to elevate the Latinx community. 

Check out what he has to say below.

BELatina News: Would you please give us some background on yourself?

Benjamín Pérez: Of course! My pronouns are he/him, and I was born and raised in Salinas, California. It’s a small city on the central coast of California, close to Monterey and Santa Cruz. My parents are both from Mexico, and they migrated here in the eighties. I have two siblings, one older brother, one younger brother,  the oldest brother born in Mexico, and my younger brother and I were born here. However, my oldest brother didn’t come to the United States until much later. So, growing up, I took the role of the older brother. 

So, how did you deal with the responsibilities that came with being the older brother during that time?

BP: Well, first of all, my experience growing up in Salinas was beautiful. I had very hard-working parents who gave us that example. They worked in product packaging, such as packing salads. They did that for many years. In fact, my dad still works in that field today.  But as I grew up, I always heard my family and friends of the family,  even my mother telling my younger brother, urging people to reach out to me. I was the one who, at that moment, would try to figure it out and had answers, according to them. So, I became that resource and still am that resource for the whole family. I won’t lie, I felt so much pressure then, but I’ve come to realize that it is very honorable, and I now take that badge with a lot of responsibility and treat it with respect.

When did your passion for inspiring and helping others start unraveling? 

Benjamín Pérez: Well, I slowly built up my passions throughout my experience of my own work and academic experiences. Within my circle, I was the first one to go to college. This included my family and even the friends of my family, so that was a big deal. Since then, I’ve been working in education and trying to see how I can share my ideals with others. But it all comes down to the beginning of the pandemic when it dawned on me that I still needed to be a resource for people, for my students, and everyone else. But I knew I couldn’t see anyone at that moment because of the pandemic. I was stuck in my house. So I said, “you know, I think social media is a great way.” My students followed me there, so I decided to try to help them find their purpose via social media. I wanted to let others know nothing should hold them back and that the sky’s the limit. 

Why is education important to you?

BP: I remember not having access to college representatives or recruiters when I was in school. Instead, the boys would only get military recruiters, which would tell us things like Mexicans are great mechanics. But I knew my parents wanted me to go to college, so I did. I went to community college, which was the most attainable option for the school I came from, mainly filled with Latinos. But, now, I act as that resource for others, so they don’t have to feel out of place. However, one thing I always tell students is that as their resource, I am never going to tell them what to do, but I will always bring options. I help them decide what’s their best option. I know higher education is not the only way, so if they want to go right into the workforce or technical school, I want to know their “why” and their reason behind it. I don’t believe in judging. I just want to give advice and guide students accordingly.

Would you tell us more about Find You Purpose?

BP: It was December of 2020, which is when I finished my first season of Find Your Purpose, that things started to move faster. The series Find You Purpose, which takes place via Instagram Lives, was based on speaking to people about different subjects. These people went ahead and spoke to me, which I shared with my audience, including my students, about their stories because they had once inspired me, and now I wanted others to feel that same inspiration as well. But it was that December that my perspective changed, and I started wondering if I could do more, so I started thinking bigger. The Find You Purpose series started in December, and the following week I released the Latinx Greek Life podcast. Since then, the sun has been shining on me.

How does your Latinx Greek Life podcast intertwine with the community as a whole?

BP: When I talk about Greek life and why it’s so important for me is because as first-gen, as a person from the Latinx community, it acted as a support system. Going to college and being the first one, being alone, feeling homesick, and many times feeling like I couldn’t do it, was tough. But I found this fraternity that let me know they had my back. So, it’s very important for me to share and shine that light on Greek life, especially since the negative aspects of it are usually highlighted. And I’m not saying those things don’t happen. Unfortunately, they have happened due to bad people, but these organizations aren’t all that way.  And I started this podcast to shine a light on the beautiful experiences and the history, and the purpose between the Latinx community and Greek life. 

Before starting these online spaces, what were you doing? 

BP: I currently also work with students who are in college through an organization that deals with middle and high schools. So, once those students graduate from high school, the organization has a team that works with those students to help them with the college experience or their career. We essentially continue supporting these students until they either graduate from college or find a career, whatever that might look like for them. I’ve been doing this for the past five years with this organization. Before that, I was working at a university in the student life office. I’ve also always been a tutor. I like working with students. I like hearing them out. And I really saw myself sometimes when I heard them, and I’d often think to myself, “wow, this was me back in the day.”

Why did you decide to embark on this journey?

BP: There have been moments in my life where I’ve been down and felt like I was alone, so I’m also trying to shine that light on other people. I’m trying to shine the light on and bring people up, try to be that resource, and inspiration for them to show them that they’re not alone in their experiences; if they are suffering from their mental health, they are not alone. Through me, they can find a community that cares. And I know I’m not the only one doing this kind of work. There are a lot of people on social media doing this. But I know that I’m just one of the few Latino men contributing to this. 

What do you focus on to try to achieve your goal?

BP: I have three pillars that drive my vision. These pillars focus on the Latinx community’s college experience, including talking about their mental health and Greek life. I do my best to be a voice of reason for each of these components, and it’s vital for me to develop them with care. 

What are some challenges you’ve encountered with your mission?

BP: Some of the challenges are making sure I’m intentional and respectful at all times. What I mean by being intentional is that I want to be as inclusive as possible for the sake of my followers, who all have diverse backgrounds. But since it’s just me, it’s a little challenging to decipher what’s acceptable sometimes. Luckily, I have my wife, who pays attention to my work and gives me feedback often. I also pay attention to my followers. I want everyone to feel comfortable in my spaces. 

Do you have any advice that you want to give the audience that you would’ve wished you had when you were younger?

BP: Absolutely! First, don’t be afraid to follow your passions as they will provide you, hopefully, with your happiness. I was always following what others wanted for me. So, I felt like I needed to check off these boxes because this is what they always wanted from me. I did whatever was expected of me. But you have to believe in yourself and take chances. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Lean on those people that have the best interests in you. Sometimes these people are family, sometimes friends, but it is important to know that sometimes the people in our lives don’t have our best interest. And I’m not saying to block people out from your life, but set boundaries now and then. It’s okay to say no to some of your families or friends while searching for those people who can guide us towards that essential passion that will ultimately lead to happiness.

You can catch Benjamín Pérez’s Find You Purpose series on his Instagram page. As for his Latinx Greek Life Podcast, you can find it on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and their favorite podcast platform. Learn more about him by clicking on his website