National Hispanic Heritage Month: meet Trudie, Ricardo, Ana, Juan and Ray

Five Hispanic people at Square Enix share their thoughts on working in the games industry, the things they love about their cultures and what people can learn from Hispanic Heritage Month.
By Square Enix Team

Square Enix is fortunate to have a team of talented people, who work tirelessly to bring you amazing games, merch and more.

National Hispanic Heritage Month affords the perfect opportunity to recognize and celebrate some of our staffers with Hispanic heritages. They share their personal insights about their backgrounds, the importance of their cultures and how it’s helped them in the games industry.

Trudie Graziano - Senior HR Generalist

How did you get your start in the games industry?

Square Enix was my introduction to the games industry. I had previously been a part of a few different industries, including Makeup Artistry, the legal field and Fin Tech. Being a Latina has been an advantage in my various jobs because it has given me a different perspective than most, due to Latino’s not being very well represented.

I have always tried my best to use it to my advantage, and prove we have a lot to bring to the table - my most important goal being to approach all situations with my heart leading the way, which is a big part of my Hispanic culture.

Ensuring that all employees know that I am coming from a genuine place of care, concern, and wanting what is best for them has always been number one to me. I am very glad to be a part of a company that aligns with my values and sees the importance of them!

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Celebrating my Hispanic culture and being able to share what makes it special is a wonderful thing, which is what makes Hispanic Heritage Month so important.

It gives us a chance to share our history and highlight the different aspects that were sometimes challenging but grew our resilience and our hearts just the same!

Also, I love to cook and eat all things Hispanic, so there’s that too!

The first thing that drew me to Square Enix was learning they celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, which none of my previous jobs did.

I was immediately interested in learning more about the company due to this and was very happy to learn that Square Enix was open to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) and growing in that area. Sadly, some companies are not, no matter how hard you fight for it.

What do you wish more people understood about your culture?

Latino and Hispanic are not interchangeable terms. A person who is Hispanic is one who was born in, or has ancestry from, a nation where Spanish is the primary language. Latino is a phrase used to denote someone from Latin America. Hispanics may be Latinos, although not all Latinos are Hispanic.

Do you have any Hispanic role models?

My main Hispanic role model would have to be my mother. She is one of the strongest people I have ever know and will always find a way to figure it out… no matter what the situation is.

She always taught me that there is always a way if you have faith, look hard enough and are willing to do what you have to do. This has helped me immensely in not only my career, but my life all around.

She taught me to always put those you love first, the importance of family (blood and otherwise), and to never give up. I am very lucky to have her!

What aspects of your culture are you passionate about?

I absolutely love to cook! I’m so lucky to be Hispanic and to have grown up with a wide variety of foods.

I love bold, bright flavors and am happy to add a little extra spice to basically everything. This also makes spending time with loved ones a little easier, since food brings people together.

I have also been able to open my husband’s eyes to thing he swore he did NOT like, but now loves! He also thinks he is “Hispanic by Marriage”. I try to tell him that’s not how it works, but hey - I guess I can let him have it!

Ricardo Mireles - Executive Creative Director

How did you get your start in the games industry?

I got into games from the very start of my career when I was fortunate to land a job with an agency focused on videogames and film advertising. Games (and also comics and films) have always been very influential in my life.

As a child, my family would repeatedly travel back-and-forth between Mexico (San Francisco del Rincón) and Los Angeles. As such, games and comics were a sort of escapism from that instability.

The limitless nature of imagination, creativity, and storytelling within them were also very influential to me as an artist. The inherent struggles that come from being an immigrant child constantly bouncing between two very distinct “worlds” evolved through games and comics - from the dread of always being the new kid into an unwavering ability to adapt.

That multi-cultural adaptability, as well as the inherent diversity of thought that comes with being a Mexican immigrant in the U.S, has provided me a unique perspective throughout my career as to the importance of considering “otherness” in our storytelling and creative.

I don’t consider that an advantage however, because we still have a lot of work to do as an industry when it comes to embracing the “super powers” that come from unique cultural points of view.    

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Hispanic and Latino cultures are so eclectic - broader, and more connected than we understand, so I love seeing all of our cultures recognized and celebrated during this month.

In particular, I really enjoy the exposure and recognition it provides artists and creators in our industry.  

 What do think people should learn about your culture from Hispanic Heritage Month?

I think a special aspect of Hispanic Heritage Month (and other heritage months) is that they highlight cultures with a point of emphasis that doesn’t occur the rest of the year.

My culture exists and matters beyond just Sep 15 - Oct 15 of course, but I absolutely love that during that time I see its colors, sounds, people, food, art, music, and history celebrated in a manner which exposes many others to its beauty.

There is so much wonderful art and history in our cultures, and I’m always happy to recommend a good book or two.

Do you have any Hispanic role models?

That one is easy - Guillermo del Toro! I admire him as a person, a fellow Mexican immigrant, and of course as a master creator and storyteller.

He has always been an example of what is possible when you are true to your culture, your values, and your creative spirit. He’s always inspired me to embrace my weirdness, my culture, and my passion for creativity.

What aspects of your culture are you passionate about?

By far, the most notable passion of my culture (Mexico) has been that of artistic expression.

From Teotihuacán to Siqueiros, or Luis Coto to Guillermo del Toro, Mexico has a rich history as a cradle for the arts and artists. Creative expression is the bedrock of Mexican culture and the modern Mexican experience.    

Ana Horta - Associate Sales Analyst

How did you get your start in the games industry?

I was obsessed with KINGDOM HEARTS as a little girl and glued to watching my older brother play FINAL FANTASY X! I thought: “Wow, it would be so cool to work there someday!”

I pivoted into the gaming industry from education by keeping tabs on the Square Enix job ads on LinkedIn. I took a leap of faith, applied (tailoring my resume), and here I am today! I`m forever grateful!

As a Mexican American, I treasure the values inherited from my family - never giving up and following my dreams. It's those precious values that helped me advance in my career and break into the industry.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Hispanic Heritage Month is important to me because it’s an opportunity for me to reflect on who I am as a second generation Mexican American born from immigrants.

In order to recognize the sacrifices my family has made to give me the opportunities and freedoms I have today, I strive to live my life using the knowledge that I have learned from their values and languages.

What do think people should learn from Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month allows people to celebrate their families and themselves. Many teach the community about their funds of knowledge and various forms of capital. Whether it be cultural, aspirational, familial, social, navigational, resistant, or linguistic knowledge – our heritage is an asset that contributes to success.

Do you have any Hispanic role models?

My Hispanic role model is my papá! Not knowing any English, he emigrated from Mexico to the United States when he was around my age, hoping for a better future.

To leave absolutely everything and start all over to follow a dream, takes an immense amount of courage and determination. He's shown me that anything is possible and inspired me to follow my own aspirations.

What aspects of your culture are you passionate about?

Mexican fiestas are the BEST! They are the embodiment of things I love about my culture: the delicious food and catchy music.

You’ll always find me always eating tacos al pastor with chile… but the moment “Payaso de Rodeo” starts playing, I’ll be frantically taking off my heels to run to the dance floor. If you have a chance to go to a Mexican fiesta, you`ll have tons of fun!

Juan Centurion - Senior QA Tester

How did you get your start in the games industry?

I studied filmmaking and writing, then stumbled into the Quality Assurance field without many expectations - just an eagerness to be part of the game-making process any way I could.

Our work with Japanese titles localized into English means there’s always a focus on ensuring that this change goes as smoothly as possible and that the end result feels natural. Having the experience of learning English as a second language early on gave me a great  foundation for understanding its rules, as well as how people tend to speak it.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Gestures like these are small but welcome signifiers of the progress made in American culture’s embracing of Hispanic and immigrant cultures in general.

What do think people should learn from Hispanic Heritage Month?

It’s an invitation to acknowledge and learn more about a variety of cultures. This can be done in pretty much any way that works for you as long as you’re approaching with respect. Art and cuisine are easy entry points!

Do you have any Hispanic role models?

My mom and dad, obviously - would feel criminal not to mention them. Absolute powerhouses that put a lot of effort into flying their family to a new continent and making sure that me and my siblings maintained our cultural roots as best we could while growing up in Texas.

Honorable mentions must go to Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez; the literary magical realism movement is something that has quietly but strongly influenced a lot of modern media and Hispanic authors like them helped define that movement.

What aspects of your culture are you passionate about?

Soccer goes without saying. Maybe a steak dinner with chimichurri and a good glass of wine, if that counts. My personal favorite foods are empanadas (meat-cheese pockets!) and alfajores (cookie-like pastries usually dipped in chocolate).

There’s also a huge rock music culture thanks to legends like Gustavo Cerati and Charly Garcia!

Ray Velez - Manager, Product Marketing

How did you get your start in the games industry?

I got into gaming via another branch of the entertainment industry - film, but my true passion has always been games.

Bringing a Latino perspective to the team has been particularly valuable in marketing titles to diverse gamers everywhere - because who doesn’t love video games, particularly when you feel respectfully reflected in them!

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

Hispanic Heritage Month is very grounding for me, particularly these last few years. My Abuelita passed just before the height of the pandemic and each HHM since I’m encouraged to learn a bit more about my roots since she’s no longer around to field my questions.

What do think people should learn from Hispanic Heritage Month?

Every single Latin-American country has a different way to celebrate because of so many unique and distinct cultures being present.

Learning about new cultures can be tough, but make it fun and you’ll learn that much better. Some practices may seem weird or unfamiliar to the uninitiated, but take a leap of faith and your trust will be rewarded!

Do you have any Hispanic role models?

Guillermo del Toro is among my top Latino role models. Bringing a unique cultural view into the mainstream via fantastical stories and an unwavering vision is always something I strive to do with my work as well as my other creative endeavors.

What aspects of your culture are you passionate about?

Comida y peliculas (food and movies). So much of my own fascination with my culture is sated by fully embracing these two things.

I highly recommend giving machaca a go in the kitchen (alongside your favorite salsa) and learning to groove a little bit better by enjoying the sweet sounds of Cuban musical collective Buena Vista Social Club.

Many thanks to Trudie, Ricardo, Ana, Juan and Ray for sharing their insights!

Square Enix is only what it is because of the people - and greater diversity and inclusion can only benefit the company, and the games industry as a whole.

So, if you’re interested in joining the team, and working with talented people like those in this article, be sure to check out our careers page: