Article Written by: Tiffany Anderson
"We all want the same thing, which is a better future for ourselves and families. We are all human."
For some, the gift of connection runs deep in their veins. Pulling together people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages requires a healthy understanding of personalities and a deep love for community.
In South Carolina, Ivan Segura is that connector.
His journey has been a remarkable story of cultural exploration, education, and community building. Growing up in Aguascalientes City, Mexico, Ivan spent the first twenty-four years of his life immersed in his native culture and first learned English when he visited Belize and met his now wife. “That was the only way I could communicate with her,” he laughed, “she’s from Kentucky so I had to master English quickly!”
Together, they moved multiple times and eventually landed in South Carolina, which was supposed to be a temporary move to get closer to Kentucky. But the charm and appeal of the Carolinas won them over, and they made Columbia their permanent home. Ivan’s first work opportunity was in Hispanic outreach where he began connecting with people with employment opportunities, seeing his innate talent for community building coming to life.
In 2019, Ivan joined the Hispanic/Latino Affairs Division at the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs where he currently serves as the Director of Multicultural Affairs and Community Engagement. He’s played a pivotal role in fostering collaboration, supporting the Hispanic community, and establishing long-lasting connections. “There’s only twenty staff members, and we do a lot of important work. It means we communicate with many people every day.”
Additionally, he’s led Palmetto Luna Arts, a non-profit organization with the mission to foster Hispanic & Latino arts and culture in South Carolina, for over a decade in a volunteer capacity. He serves as an ambassador, bridging cultures, fostering relationships & creativity, and providing opportunities for Hispanic & Latino artists to thrive.
For over twenty years, Ivan has worked to unify communities, which has made Ivan a familiar face and trusted leader across the state.
For Ivan, living out his culture means educating people around him about the many diverse backgrounds intersecting in South Carolina. “I feel like I live my culture by paying homage to those memories I have of my cultural expression. I love Day of the Dead, and there’s so many fun parts of celebrating that. It’s an easy door for me to educate people about what it means to me.” He’s dedicated to dispelling stereotypes and showcasing the richness of his culture through communication and celebrations. “It’s not enough for us to celebrate at home, we need to take it outside!”
When asked about Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, Ivan mentioned, “I became a Latino when I moved to the states. I was always Mexican beforehand.” For him, remembering and celebrating his culture comes through the form of education. He believes people should leave events with a deeper understanding of Hispanic culture that goes beyond stereotypes and misconceptions.
As a passionate advocate, Ivan’s greatest hope is equality in opportunities and treatment for all people, regardless of their background. “My goal is for the Hispanic community to be recognized for their contributions. I want it to go well beyond tolerance - I want people to know my story and recognize we all want the same thing, which is a better future for ourselves and families. We are all human.”
Ivan has been a steady champion of the Hispanic Alliance’s mission for years, attending community events and supporting its evolution. “They have always impressed me with the structure they have, they’re incredible in their strategic vision.” His goal for the future is to work together more and to encourage his network to do the same.
His advice to others is simple: “find your passion and pursue it.” His love for art and culture led him to create a network of over 500 people across the state of South Carolina - all of who dedicate themselves to supporting their community and making it a better place for everyone.
“We need help on all levels, and if you aren’t helping - you can! We need others to stand up and speak with us.” In a world where connection and understanding are vital for us to hear others, Ivan stands as a bridge between cultures, advocating and educating about the richness of Hispanic culture.