A Resolve Unlike No Other
Alex Ysquierdo
surrounded by like-minded and like-colored people. Up here the culture was totally different. I got picked on a lot. I had to get accustomed to the
culture up here. What helped me break out of that, and also my brothers, was the fact that we were pretty good at football. We got immersed in
sports. It may sound cheesy, but we just got into the weight-room and worked out. We started connecting with people. Because we were really
good football players, the community kind of took us in. But in the past, there were a group of guys that picked on us. It wasn’t until I got into the
weight-room and showed them that I could hang with them that we began to feel accepted.

Q: Sports has a way of bringing people of all backgrounds together. I heard that you went on to play college football. Tell me about your college
experience and playing football.
A:  I attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP.) I graduated with a major in Latin American Culture Studies and a
minor in Marketing, Human Resources and Business Administration.  I loved my experience at UWSP, some of the academics did not come
easy to me but I was able to face my challenges and overcome them with the support of a network of mentors.  
Playing football was a lot of fun. I went to school full-time. But I didn’t have the funding for it, so I had to pick up a part-time job on the side. So
very quickly, I had to figure out what my priorities were. Do I want an education? Did I want to succeed in higher education? The answer was
yes. Because the financial aid wasn’t there and the funding wasn’t there, I dropped the football aspect of it. I tried it for over two years. I
worked full-time, went to school full-time and played football. Football up there was interesting. It was not at all what I was used to in Nekoosa.
As with any sport, there was politics that go on. I played, I should say I tried to play, but the funding just wasn’t there.
Once I wasn’t playing football, it allowed me to get more involved on campus. I had a couple of jobs on campus and it allowed me to get
involved with the multicultural center. There were some key people in the program who became my mentors. There were a couple of times that
I was on academic probation, and those mentors helped me. They helped find tutors for me. They also had crucial conversations with me and
let me know that if I wanted an education I had to commit to it. They told me that I could not be mediocre; that I had to commit to it 100 percent
and I did.

Q:  What are you doing professionally in the workforce?
A: I work for Associated Bank as the assistant VP, business development officer in Associated’s Bank at Work program.  In my position, I help
local businesses take advantage of our free program.
This program allows employers to offer their employees financial services and benefits through us. The program can make their workplace
more efficient and productive, while helping the employer attract and retain quality employees.
My role also includes administering financial education seminars. These seminars provide a wealth of information on personal finance topics
that include:  Identity Theft, Understanding Your Credit, Budgeting and Debt Reduction.

Q:  Generally, do you feel supported as a young professional of color in our community?
A: In our community, as a Latino professional, I feel very supported. Some of this support has come from mentors such as Dora Zuñiga, Juan
José López, Oscar Mireles, Scott Haumersen and Christian Albouras.  These folks along with others have helped support and guide me on my
professional journey here in Madison.  

Q:  What networks or organizations have you personally and professionally benefited from here in Madison?  
A:  The networks and organizations that I have professionally benefitted from here in Madison are the Latino Chamber of Commerce, Centro
Hispano, Latino Consortium for Action and Rotary Club of Madison.  They have opened the door to networking with other local professionals in
the community.  Some of these connections have led to great personal and professional opportunities I would not have had otherwise.  

Q:  You have been instrumental in the work of the Latino Chamber of Commerce.  Tell me more about your involvement.
A: I have been involved with the Latino Chamber of Commerce since 2014, I started out as a board member and for the past two years have
been part of the executive board as their secretary. As an executive board member, I have been involved in helping roll out some key
initiatives.  An example is our very first business incubator that is helping with economic growth here Dane County.  I was also instrumental in
hiring our first executive director who is now our president and CEO, Jessica Cavazos. This milestone is significant because this represents
the growth that our Chamber has experienced in the last few years.

Q:  You made a reference to the business incubator. What is that? How does one get involved?
A:  It’s a program that you have to register for. Basically, if someone comes in and tells us they want to start a business, the first question we
ask is what type of business? Once the student has an idea of what he or she wants to do, we put them through a program. We help them
develop their business plan. We help them gain a better understanding of what it means to be a business owner in Wisconsin. I believe that we
are the only organization of its kind in Wisconsin that offers these programs in Spanish.

Q: Do you have to be a member of the Latino Chamber of Commerce to avail yourself of the services offered through the business incubator?
A:  We would love for them to be a member of the Latino Chamber of Commerce but that is not always the case. In fact, we have our first cohort
graduating on December 7, 2017 from the business incubator. We then set them up with mentors and coaches that will continue to follow them
through their progress.

Q:  What are some of the other civic engagements you are involved in?
A: Two other civic engagements I am involved in are the Latino Consortium for Action and I am a guest instructor at Centro Hispano in their
“Caminos Finance-Teller Training.”

Q:  I have never heard of the Latino Consortium for Action. Tell me more about that initiative.
A:  It is a smaller group of about 12 people that explore issues and how we can make positive change. We look at issues that need our
immediate attention.

Q:  What is the “Caminos Finance-Teller Training” program you also mentioned?
A:  The program is offered through Centro Hispano. It has been pretty successful. They have had several graduating classes. I have talked to
them about sales and how to meet sales goals. From what I have heard the placement for graduates is high. I think it’s about 80 percent at
local financial institutions.

Q:  What is your proudest accomplishment as a young professional in our community?
A:  I am most proud of my community outreach and involvement through The Latino Chamber of Commerce and Centro Hispano.  Being able to
help other people is an honor.  I love giving back to my community because I believe in helping where ever I can.  These organizations have
allowed me to give back and that alone is my proudest accomplishment.  

Q:  Who are the people that inspire you in our community?
A:  The people in my community that inspire me the most are those that selflessly give without expecting anything in return. This can be
summarized from a quote from Leo Buscaglia, an author and motivational speaker.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all
of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
In my years of living I have benefited from those acts of kindness.

Q:  What current issues affecting our city are important to you and why?
A:  Nationally, many consumers are not equipped with the proper financial education and good financial habits by the time they enter the
workforce. The city of Madison is not immune from this trend. As such,  consumers are not equipped adequately. This affects everything from
basic budgeting, taking on too much debt, living paycheck to paycheck and not having the right plan in place for retirement.  I am fortunate to
be in a position that allows me to offset that financial education gap through Associated Bank’s programming and resources.

Q:  What advice would you give to young professionals of color that are new to Madison?
A:  My advice to young professionals new to Madison is network and get connected.  Madison has a lot to offer and there is always something
going on. Also, never stop developing yourself personally and professionally. Healthy doses of humility and consistency go a long ways. Lastly,
dream big and surround yourself with people that will help you achieve life’s ambitions.  

Q:  What do you enjoy doing outside of your work and civic activities?
A: My wife, my daughters and my dog are my world, Anna, Kaiya, Kali, Mariana and Chino.  Outside of all I do, I enjoy my time with them.  

Nia Trammell is a professional working in the legal field.  
The road leading to where he stands today was by no means easy.  Alex Ysquierdo grew up in a migrant
working family that traveled between Texas and Wisconsin.  Spending time away from the familiar spaces
and faces in Texas presented its own set of challenges.  It was through sports that he soon began to feel like
he was part of the fabric of the community in Nekoosa, Wisconsin, where he spent his time as a teen. Despite
the adversities he faced as a child and eventually working his way through college, he clearly had the
strength and commitment to succeed. The journey without doubt has more than prepared him to live a life of
purpose in Madison, along with his wife, daughters and their dog.   

Q:  If you are not native to Madison, tell me how you got here. What's your personal story?
A: I am not originally from the Madison area. I moved to the area about five years ago when I met my wife. I
grew up in Texas. My family moved to Nekoosa, Wisconsin when I was thirteen. We came up as migrant
laborers for several years and then eventually settled down and made Nekoosa our permanent home.

Q:  What was it like growing up in Nekoosa and being part of the migrant community?
A:  It didn’t feel like home coming from Texas and going back and forth several years. Nekoosa felt like a tent
city, even though we had housing. It didn’t always feel permanent and we didn’t feel connected to people.
When we settled in Nekoosa, my parents still owned property in Texas. Growing up in Texas, I was