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Olympic Medalist Laurie Hernandez Empowers Latinos with her Positive Words

MIAMI -- Olympic gold and silver medalist and Dancing with the Stars champion, Laurie Hernandez, won over hearts at the Hispanicize conference with her bright smile and empowering words.

During a luncheon where she was given the Latinovator award she talked about the 2016 Rio Olympics and said “It feels amazing. I still look back at those moments and say ‘Wow, that really happened.’”

The 16 -year-old Puerto Rican gymnast was the first Latina to join the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in over 30 years. As one of the youngest members of the U.S. Olympic team last summer, Hernandez won over many hearts with her sweet smile and personality. Her fans nicknamed her the human Emoji because of her many smiles and winks. Hernandez told NBC Latino one of her favorite Emojis is the one of the monkey covering its eyes.

When asked what advice she has for young girls, Hernandez responded, “My advice would be to wake up every morning with positivity, with a smile. And just understand that your smile can beat anything,” she told NBC Latino.

Hernandez was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey to first generation Puerto Rican parents. She began taking gymnastics when she was 5 years old. She said her mother has told her it all evolved after she saw a gymnast on TV who “looked so confident. I said to my mom I want to be just like her.”

Hernandez is now grateful she is a role model for young girls. She said it’s “inspiring and heartwarming” when parents go up to her and say she has inspired their children.

Olympian gold medalist Laurie Hernandez chats with NBC Latino at Hispanicize 2017. Carmen Sesin

Hernandez has taken a break from gymnastics to launch her book titled “I Got This: To Gold and Beyond.” She plans to return to gymnastics in the next few months.

She also shot her first commercial with Crest, which airs April 10th.

Hispanicize is holding its 8th annual event in Miami this week. The event brings together thousands of Latino influencers and trendsetters from fields including music, film, blogging, marketing, and journalism.

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