Victor Hugo Cueva Immigration Attorney Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow at the Worker Justice Center of NY
How did you get to where you are today? I came to this country with my, from Peru, when I was 11 years old on 01/19/2001. We settled in Kingston, NY once we arrived to this country. I spent about 10 years in this country as an undocumented immigrant. Experiencing the hardships that undocumented immigrants face on a daily basis, gave me motivation to succeed in school. My parents, through their hard work and sacrifice, paid for college since I could not apply for financial aid. I first went to SUNY Ulster where I graduated with distinction. Then I graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Albany and finally went to the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of law in order to become an immigration attorney. I was chosen to be a part of the Immigrant Justice Corps Fellowship, where I was trained to become an immigration attorney. I spent two years of the Fellowship with Catholic Charities Arch. of NY in Manhattan, but my clients were from the Lower Hudson Valley. Now, I am spending my third year of the Fellowship with the Worker Justice Center of NY at their Kingston office as their only immigration attorney on staff. It is wonderful to be able to come back to the town where I grew up and help the immigrant community here! Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? Daniel Alejandro Perez Cueva: Daniel is one of my many first cousins. Unfortunately, Daniel was one of the victims at the Virginia Tech shooting back in April 16, 2007. The nation does not know that Daniel was also undocumented. I looked up to him as he was showing me that graduating college, while undocumented, was possible. He was killed a semester away from his graduation. All of my accomplishments are in his memory. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? I am a political science major and a Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor. I chose these majors I have always been interested in the political process and I wanted to know more about Latin American history/affairs. I wanted to know my roots. I chose to be an immigration attorney, because of my own personal immigration experience. I feel that having lived as an undocumented immigrant for almost a decade, makes me a better immigration attorney because I can connect with my clients in a way that others cannot. I use my skills as an attorney to help the immigrant community; particularly the community in the Hudson Valley where the help is much needed. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? I was born and raised in Lima, Peru. My parents and grandparents are Peruvian as well. Best memory of growing up. The best memories where from my childhood in Lima. Before I became undocumented in the U.S.; before I was aware of social inequalities; before and racial inequalities; I experienced racism in the U.S. I grew up in my grandfather's property with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. I remember being worry-free and only caring about school, soccer, and playing with my cousins. Daniel was still alive and I will never forget these happy moments in my childhood. Best memory of a day at school or work. When I first started working at Catholic Charities, I was given a tough asylum case from a kid attending Kingston High School. Due to scheduling conflicts, my supervisor could not attend the asylum hearing with me, so I went alone to NY Asylum represent this teenager. We prepped before the interview, but it was a tough interview for him, since he only spoke Q'eqchi (Mayan language) and a little bit of Spanish. Despite these difficulties and the complexities of the case, we won the case. Being able to have my first major victory in my career be an undocumented teenager from Kingston High School (where I graduated from) was amazing! Best day ever. 01/08/2011: When I married my wife, Amanda Batista. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? I went to SUNY Ulster and then I transferred to SUNY Albany where I majored in Political Science with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies Best book you ever read. The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman Favorite quote? "Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging." -Justice Sonia Sotomayor Favorite sports team. Alianza Lima (Peruvian soccer team) Favorite song. El Perdon - Nicky Jam Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. Live is full of obstacles that will inevitably bring you down. But you will be defined by how you fought these and overcame these obstacles. Each one of us, especially in this country, have our own success stories and it is up to us to share with the younger generations that look to us for guidance. Never give up, fight back, and always remember where you come from.
Francisco J. Ferrer, Jr Senior Credit Analyst People's United Bank
how did you get to where you are today? Francisco currently covers New York City and the Westchester/ Hudson Valley region of New York as a senior credit analyst with People's United Bank's Commercial & Industrial Lending division. He has previously served in roles in both the retail banking and brokerage businesses of People's United Bank and its brokerage subsidiary People's Securities Inc. Before joining People's United in 2015 Francisco founded Xavier Philip LLC, a consultancy focused on Startups and their service providers. Prior to founding Xavier Philip LLC, Mr. Ferrer served as a Managing Director of a Family Limited Partnership that specialized in Real Estate, Hard Assets and Equity stakes in publicly traded and private companies. During his tenure he spearheaded the family’s private company acquisition efforts. Additionally, Mr. Ferrer advised on the value and restructuring efforts of existing portfolio assets. Previously, Mr. Ferrer worked in various positions at JPMorgan Chase & Co. where he spent over half a decade advising the firm’s individual and business banking clients. In his roles he would forge many relationships with the founders and leadership of many of New York’s largest hedge fund and private equity firms. Relationships that he maintains to this day. Prior to JPMorgan Chase, Mr. Ferrer was an analyst and trader with the New York based proprietary trading firm Chimera Securities, (formerly Chimera Capital). Mr. Ferrer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in American History from Union College (Schenectady, NY). He is on the volunteer board of directors of the Patricia Gardens Owners Corporation and is an Alumni Volunteer with the Office of Admissions at Union College. A native of New York City, Mr. Ferrer currently resides in Larchmont, NY. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My younger brother. In knowing that he was watching my every move growing up, it forced me to be the best I could in all my endeavors. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? As a teenager I witnessed the meteoric rise and subsequent crash of the telecom boom in the late 1990s. I was fascinated, not just as a bystander but a holder of hundreds of shares of telecom companies that stemmed from an initial purchase of 25 shares of AT&T stock that my grandfather had purchased when I was just a few months old. As a result I took the a full year of Economics my senior year of High School and have since pursued finance in various capacities in my career. The fundamental understanding of our world through economic terms is the last piece of the puzzle to parity for any immigration wave. This is why I volunteer with the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Our community can only be empowered to self determine our success if we are armed with the knowledge required to succeed in America. Economic empowerment is rooted more so in knowledge than it is dollars. I have dedicated my personal time to enriching the knowledge of those around me and mentoring young people on basic personal finance principles and larger economic factors that affect or everyday lives. It is my belief that we need more Latinos at the highest levels of leadership within our nation's financial institutions, if our numbers are to be truly reflected and interests properly attended in the economy of the future. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Puerto Rican Best memory of growing up. Our parents made sure we had a diversity of experiences including that of nature when they sent us up to summer camp in Ivoryton, CT. Those summers in the woods and on the lake offered perspective on a different speed of life from that of the big city. These were some of the best days of my childhood. Best memory of a day at school or work. June 11th 2006, Mom and Dad looked on as I crossed the stage at Union College's 212th commencement ceremony. Best day ever. On June 17th of this year my brother and his wife were wed. Many of our extended family and friends were present. The spirits of those we missed were present. Everyone was happy. It was a perfect day. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? Union College (Schenectady, NY), Bachelor's Degree in Political Science with a minor in American History Best book you ever read. There are two: "Liar's Poker" by Michael Lewis and "MYNE OWNE GROUND" by T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes Favorite quote? "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." From the Speech "CITIZENSHIP IN A REPUBLIC" by President Theodore Roosevelt delivered at the Sorbonne Paris, France April 23, 1910 Favorite sports team. I am from the Bronx, THE YANKEES Favorite song. The Fugees Album, The Score, in its entirety. Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. I always knew where I wanted to be when I wrote something like this. I am not there yet. It is important to set goals and fight tirelessly to achieve them, however, every route has its twists and turns, and it is important to understand that the character required to achieve your goals is ascertained along this unpredictable path. Embrace it, because ultimately it is only yours to claim.
Laura Patricia Garcia Balbuena Racial Justice Program YWCA Orange County
How did you get to where you are today? Laura Garcia is the Racial Justice Program Manager for YWCA Orange County, New York. In that role she oversees a portfolio of programs addressing Teaching Tough Topics, Mexican Initiative for Deferred Action, Immigrants Vote campaign among others. She is the founder of Dreamers with No Borders, a group of young adults whose mission is to educate and empower the Latino, undocumented and migrant community in the Hudson Valley through the attainment of higher education and civic engagement. Laura also coordinates Mujeres Latinas of The Hudson Valley, a group of undocumented, migrant women from Middletown and Newburgh area that meet twice a month. Understanding firsthand the need for woman to feel safe prompted Laura to find an alternative way to help woman in the community. Laura understands the difficulties of being an immigrant in this country, she arrived to the United States when she was only 8 years old and saw the struggles that her mother faced with language, and information assistance. By encouraging woman to run their meetings, by leading a discussion or a workshop, she has prompted them to take a stronger leadership role in a world that views immigrant women as second class citizens. Laura has served on the Board of Directors for the Rural and Migrant Ministry for the past 16 years. Laura took a lead part in a recent hunger strike to support the New York Dream Act. She was recently highlighted in a short video done by women of the word from the New York Times; was a special guest on Univision al Despertar (one of the largest Spanish networks in the country). Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My dad is the most important and influential person in my life. He left his mom, and his job in the government just to give my brother and myself a better life. He has sacrifice so much for my family just so we could have opportunities, he is the original Dreamer. He does not live in this country anymore, but the 27 years he spent here left him with nothing. He had to start a new life and start from the bottom all over again when he return to Mexico. His determination only motivates me to accomplish what he brought us here for, a better life with no limitations. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? When i was in middle school, i was part of a youth group that introduce me to a whole new world. I was just getting comfortable speaking the language so i was very shy, they push me to right away break barriers, whether it was speaking to legislators or in front of a crowd of 300 people. I didn't know then because i thought, it was only right, to speak up for those that couldn't, but the youth group made me an activist. I work for a not for profit that allows me to speak up and create programs that directly assist the very same community that helped me develop the skills necessary to be in the position that i currently hold. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage. Mexican Best memory of growing up. I hold very close to my heart the memories of the holidays I spent in Mexico when i was a little girl. The colors,the music, the food, the traditions remain part of my daily memories. Best memory of a day at school or work. When i started senior year of High School, i learned that i had won the Vice President position of my senior class. I knew then that the my political career was finally kicking off. Best day ever. When I met Pope Francis is 2015 at a private event that Catholic Charities invited me to attend. Most recently in January of this year Catholic Charities invited me to the 100th year celebration. I got to sit in the "important" table with the Governor NY, the Mayor of NY, with CEO's from MSNBC and some celebrities celebrities etc.The experience made me realize that I belong in a room and tables like the one I was sitting in. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? Received my Associates Degree from Dutchess Community College. Looking into finishing my Bachelors Degree and major in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy Best book you ever read. To kill a mockingbird Favorite quote. "nos quisieron enterran, pero no sabian que eramos semillas" Favorite sports team. Mexican National Team Favorite song. Gracias a la vida Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. We all have the opportunity to leave a legacy behind,tell your own and make sure your struggles get written, so that one day others can follow your footsteps while they create their own paths. - Laura Garcia
Annmarie Martinez Executive Director Health Alliance Westchester Medical Center Health Network
how did you get to where you are today? I received my Bachelors of Arts in Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. I remember having a true love for “college” My undergraduate degree has enriched my life in many ways. My university studies have provided the necessary tools to enhance my skills, and taught me valuable knowledge about this diverse global economy. My Graduate degree was obtained at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Services Master of Public Administration-Health Policy. University level studies stressed to me the importance of thinking critically and asking questions. Unfortunately, my time as an undergraduate was also faced as a single mother confronting poverty. As a result of my own experiences, I am familiar with the despair and frustration endemic to individuals struggling to survive. I am convinced that increasing individuals' access to quality healthcare can make the difference between despondency and hope. My life goal is to contribute in HealthCare Policy reflective of actionable, operational, and quality focused healthcare accessible to all. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My mother and father have been wonderful parents to me. They have worked hard to provide a stable foundation for my life and future. They have taught me invaluable lessons about work, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Growing up as the oldest of three child , I was raised by a hard working, progressive, feminist mother and a strong willed, committed, supportive, feminist father. They taught me the value of Hard Work, and reinforced in me the belief that with God all things are possible.My parents have that island, cultural mentality where everything is centered around family. You cook, you clean, and you’re never afraid of hard work. That was what my household was all about. You went to school, stayed out of the streets, and did the good you had to do. As an adult, these principles have guided all my activities, especially the pioneering work I’m doing right now, by making a commitment to open doors to ensure the next generation continues the work to reinvest in our communities by bringing innovation, quality, and equal access to healthcare. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? I often wonder when people talk of healthcare disparities, if they can ever truly grasp what it means, what crushing poverty entails, whether there was any acknowledgement and outage of the polar difference in quality healthcare within a 5 mile radius. I was born and raised in New York City, Brooklyn specifically a place where most people are suffering from one disease or another, conditions that encourage co-morbidities and compromises quality of life. Diseases which are highly preventable in this country, how was this possible? I never wondered who would help, or raise awareness; I was that someone. Coming from an underprivileged family, for me, it has always been seeing how we grew up and the lack of access, gaps in care that we experienced as a family. It has always been my life’s mission to take care of those communities that don’t have the ways and means to get access that other communities have. To me, Public Health is the most important aspect of community. For it is good health, promotes all other life dreams and goals. Public Health begins with policy the infrastructure which aligns the operational logistics and deliverables. The health system needs serious reform and the right management. Policy makers have failed to think long term and properly. With the demand for health care, there is a critical need for more Latinos overall in the healthcare. With workforce – especially in decision-making positions in the federal government and in the private sector so programs can be developed that are relevant for our families. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Puerto Rican Best memory of growing up. spending time at the beach with my family, Best memory of a day at school or work. My first executive in person staff meeting was held after 6 months in my new role. Prior to the in person meeting I met with the leadership team 2x a month via telephone conference. The morning of the meeting as I began to present; there was an abrupt (clearly Freudian slip) comment made in the back of the room. "Your Ann Marie??!!" But I though by your voice on the phone you were white, and I thought you were smart. Life is full of surprises isn't it. But you can call me Ms. Martinez. Best day ever. THREE DAYS: BIRTH OF MY 3 CHILDREN! Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY Best book you ever read. OH THE PLACES YOU'LL GO-(DR. SEUSS) Favorite quote? “You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes Favorite sports team. CROSSFIT REGIONAL GAMES Favorite song. RISE UP- ANDRA DAY Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. As Latinos we are embracing our culture and language, gaining economic and political clout, and expanding our global connections. These gains have been possible because of the vision, contribution, and relentless activism of our leaders. They have built a legacy of inclusive community leadership, based on cultural values and traditions, I aspire to make that contribution, and encourage ALL of our young people to harness the power of Latino Leadership,effective and powerful leadership from our cultural core that will infuse mainstream leadership with an inclusive community spirit that fosters contribution and service. Historically, power has been hierarchical, the domain of the influential few, and associated with control and dominance. Most often power has been found in the hands of White males. Latino power, on the other hand, has evolved from the community—it is the power of We—the power that people have to change their lives for the better. Diffused power means leadership is not concentrated in one voice or only a few. Instead, Latino power is leadership by the many—the thousands of Latino leaders working every day in communities across the country. Leaders who encourage people to tap into their own power. What I believe our young people should understand is that they can be leaders in their own right in their own community—in their neighborhood, church, college, job, or career, wherever it is. As a community let us honor the points of convergence from the common history and experiences shared by communities of color who despite racism and discrimination continue to focus on mutual advancement. ¡Si, Se Puede!
Esteban"Steve" Ramos Special Assistant to the Commissioner NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
how did you get to where you are today? Esteban “Steve” Ramos grew up in a public housing complex in upper Manhattan. Like many young people without proper adult supervision, he was a mischievous youth. Having gone to several high schools, Esteban ended up in an alternative high school. Upon obtaining his GED, he was in college by the age of seventeen. Esteban majored in Liberal Arts at LaGuardia Community College. It was during his time at LaGuardia that he realized he wanted to work with young people. Towards the end of his time at LaGuardia, his final internship was at a Beacon Program in Queens. Esteban was part of the team that was responsible for creating and implementing the after school program. Several months later, he applied and joined the inaugural class of Public Allies-New York (2000). Through a ten-month apprenticeship, Public Allies, advances new leadership to strengthen communities, non-profits, and civic participation. His partner organization was Fresh Youth Initiatives (FYI), in Washington Heights where he was asked to join as a Group Leader. In 2009 Esteban became the organization's Executive Director - during the height of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. By early 2014, Esteban steered the organization out of a six year in a row of deficit and into three years in a row of surplus - bringing the organization’s annual budget to $1 Million for the first time in its history. He took the organization through a marketing and branding overhaul. He developed new programs in response to pressing community needs – such as FYI’s Welcome Program, Community Service Learning Program, and College preparedness and readiness programs. Esteban not only brought life back to New York City’s only youth run food pantry, but he also brought life back to Fresh Youth Initiatives. Today the organization serves over 500 young people daily and provides services to youth in grades K – 12. Most of the young people served are either first or second generation immigrants from Latin countries. In September of 2014, Esteban was accepted into the Empire State Fellows Program. Each Fellow is appointed by New York State Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo to work directly with high-level policy makers. Esteban started his Fellowship at the Office of Children and Family Services’ Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY) working directly for the Deputy Commissioner. At DJJOY, he created performance metrics and data systems to help improve programs and strengthen current treatment programs for the juvenile justice system. He assisted with creating a college living unit within the Brookwood Secure Center and facilitated the creation of co-ed college classes between the Brookwood College Program and Columbia Girls Secure Center. He then did his second rotation at the Division of the Budget and Executive Chamber, working for the Nonprofit Coordination Unit. There he assessed the administration of the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program – a $100,000,000 statewide initiative; where he enhanced and facilitated the request for application process and overall application structure. Esteban has now completed the Fellowship and is currently the Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Esteban earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lehman College – graduating Magna Cum Laude, a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University, and attended Columbia Business School’s Institute for Not-For-Profit Management – Executive Level Program. In Albany he completed the Empire State Fellows Professional Development and Educational Program at The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government. Esteban was New York 1 News’ New Yorker of the week in 2005. He received Public Allies’ first Regional and National Change Maker Award. He was presented with a Citation from Assemblyman Dr. Guillermo Linares for being an Outstanding Citizen. He has also been recognized by: The Barack Obama Democratic Club of Northern Manhattan, Community Board 12M, the Latino Social Work Coalition and Scholarship Fund, the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County and Congressmen Charles B. Rangel and Sean Patrick Maloney. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? Who: My Uncle. Why: Always provided advice without judgement, has always been consistent, he tutored me in my times of need, and never wanted nothing but the best for me. Furthermore, I have always been able to speak with him about any topic - from A-Z, and it is always a stimulating conversation. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? As I worked with young people, one of my mentors suggested I go to school for Social Work. As I began to apply theory to practice, I was able to witness the impact I had on the youth as I supported them through the crossroads of their lives. I quickly understood the the larger impact it had on the community. Then, I began to hear the success of the young people - years later, when they would return and thank me for the guidance I gave them. My move into government, was an attempt to bring this impact from a community to a state level - shifting my focus from case to cause. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Puerto Rican Best memory of growing up. Playing with the water from the fire hydrant in the street, during the summer. Best memory of a day at school or work. Having to get my summer campers, youth counselors, and staff from Coney Island (Brooklyn) to Washington Heights (Northern Manhattan), during the North East Blackout of 2003. We left at 10:00 in the morning, and didn't get back until midnight! Although it was a crazy day, all the people involved still talk about it whenever we see each other. Best day ever. The first full day(s) my daughters were home from the hospital, after being born. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? Yeshiva University: Social Work / Lehman College: Social Work / LaGuardia Community College: Liberal Arts Best book you ever read. One of the best books I've read, would have to be Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Favorite quote? "Es chevere ser grande, pero es mas grande ser chevere" - Hector Lavoe Favorite sports team. NY Yankees Favorite song. Rise, by Herb Alpert Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. No matter the journey you take to reach each level/stage of your life (professionally and personally), as a Latino; it will be harder. Whether it be because of the color of your skin, sound of your last name, texture of your hair, and or zip code of where you're from. Understand this, accept this (for the moment), embrace it, and learn from it. Because if you do, as you attain each level you're aspiring to reach, you will do so and soar. It will feel like taking ankle weights off after training for a marathon. And that is when you take the reigns and begin to make change!
Jose Roberto Rodriguez Psychotherapist, Montefiore Health System Student, Baruch College, Healthcare Administration MBA program
How did you get to where you are today? My parents came to this country from Guatemala and Mexico. I was born in Houston, Texas and moved to Mount Kisco, New York at age five. I consider myself an American, and more specifically, a New Yorker. That is my culture. Besides the history books and from what my parents have told me about their respective countries, I hardly know a thing about either culture. Growing up in a privileged area of the U.S., I had the All-American upbringing. I had a fun childhood and teenage years. I studied hard at one of the best public school districts in America, played baseball, went to summer camps, held summer jobs, was team captain of my high school wrestling team, and was accepted to a top tier school, Boston College. I was like any other All-American. However, there were few instances that pointed out this was not entirely accurate. I was in fact a little different. As a junior in high school, my very liberal social studies teacher felt compelled to announce I had the highest score on the final exam. She asked about my heritage. I kept it simple and chose to say I was of a Mexican background. In front of the entire class she encouraged me to keep up the good work, assured me I will be successful, and to "do it for the Mexicans!". I knew her well enough to know that she meant that in a good way: I need to represent my people. This did not completely resonate as I did not know my people. I was disconnected from my people. While I was in college, I got into an argument with another student. He claimed that the only reason I was at a school that was predominantly white from privileged backgrounds, was due to affirmative action. This made my blood boil because I knew how hard I had worked and that I earned my stripes to be at there. My social studies teacher would have disagreed with this student. Shortly after, I decided that race had come up enough times in my life that I wanted to know about the immigrant experience. I visited family in Mexico City and I listened to my parent's immigrant experiences. They had it rough. They started from scratch once they arrived to the United States and had to assimilate in order to progress. Their attitude was different than mine. Complaining is useless but taking on a challenge and figuring out solutions gets rid of anything there is to complain about. I adopted that mentality. I reasoned that if my starting point was significantly more advantaged than their starting point, completely adopting that mentality will get me far in life. Since then, I vowed to ensure their efforts to provide me with a comfortable life were not in vain. I did not live the immigrant experience so I cannot say it resonates with me. However, my parents worked hard to position me to achieve the American Dream so my job is to be aware of their sacrifice and allow it to fuel my ambition. This also led to my decision to help as many people as I can throughout my life. I blended this goal with my passion for psychology and today I am a psychotherapist. I work in a community full of immigrants from all backgrounds. Although I do not carry the Hispanic culture with me I do carry the Spanish language. I am one of the few Spanish speaking psychotherapists at my clinic situated in the Bronx. At least half of my caseload are Hispanics that only speak Spanish. Most have children and work hard to provide the next generation with the same opportunities my parents worked hard for. This certainly resonates with me 100% and I serve as a supplement to the mental toughness those of the Hispanic community bring with them. I am there to do what I can to help my patients maintain their psychological strength to move the subsequent generation to positions of influence. This is a pivotal time frame in history and I do my best to help people one at a time. I am currently in an MBA program that will help me position myself at a greater level of influence. In the near future I will be working in a capacity that will help many people at once within the scope of healthcare. So how did I get where I am today? By living the American Dream. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My parents were both the most influential for several reasons. They taught me the principles, morals, and values that I hold dear to this day. My willpower and relentless nature towards fighting for what I want is deeply ingrained. They also instilled a high level of empathy that has led me to help not only Hispanics but my fellow humans. There were other highly influential people at different points in my life. My late Godfather advised me on life ordeals. His advice was sometimes advice that my parents would not tell me to do but it was the right advice. He also warned me about what to expect in life. One thing I should prepare for is that a successful path will often be a lonely one but nonetheless, "Soar like an Eagle, don't fly with the crows". My wrestling coach emphasized that nothing could stop me because I controlled my fate. He believed in sacrificing whatever was needed to maximize my potential. The most practical priest I have ever met explained to me that moving on was not about forgetting hardships and tragedies. Instead, the approach is to accept this as being a part of life and to co-exist with the pain in order to keep making progress. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? I took a mix of different subjects my freshman year of college. I was fascinated with psychology and decided that this was my passion. Pair this with my Catholic values of agape and I concluded that my goal was to use my knowledge of behavioral science to help as many people as I can thought my lifetime. I then had to choose a specific method to accomplish this. Given my firm belief in the power of thought patterns, I went to graduate school to become a psychotherapist. Given my ability to speak Spanish, I have been able to reach out and help the largely ignored Hispanic community in the Bronx. As I gained experience and my understanding of the world grew, I felt compelled to find a way to help people at at a larger scale. I reason that by getting into a position to make decisions that affect a large number of people at once, I can further help the Hispanic community as well as others. This took me down the path of the Healthcare MBA program at Baruch College. I envision myself in a position in which my decisions will help improve the quality of healthcare that people receive especially the Hispanic community. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Mexican and Guatemalan Best memory of growing up. My best memory of growing up was going outside every summer to meet with my friends right down the street. We would get our baseball equipment together and ride our bikes to the local deli where we would fuel up for a day filled with ongoing baseball games. You would think the movie The Sandlot was based on us. If you have seen the movie, it is a really joyful and rich childhood. Best memory of a day at school or work. The best memory at work was quite simple. The first time a patient told me that something I said and pointed out saved his life is a memory that stands out among any other work day. It was the first time I knew that I made the ultimate impact in someone's life. Best day ever. The best day ever was Graduation Day at Boston College. There was meaning beyond earning a degree. Something much deeply rooted. It was the first major milestone in achieving the American Dream. My parents invested a significant amount of time and energy to provide me the best opportunities I could get and for me to dive into them. It was not only a day that I saw my hard work pay off but it also represented my parent's altruistic hard work. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? I went to Boston College and earned a BA Psychology. Upon graduation, I immediately attended Fordham University and earned my Master of Social Work. I am currently in my 2nd year of the Master of Business Administration program at Baruch College. It has a healthcare focus as I plan to stay in this industry. Best book you ever read. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Favorite quote? "O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle. But you shall be a miracle." - Phillips Brooks Favorite sports team. New York Yankees Favorite song. All Along the Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. I have concluded that the two most important commodities are time and people. Both are irreplaceable. There are 1,440 minutes in one day. Make sure you use each minute wisely while surrounded by the people you love who foster positivity in your life. Recognize that this might be the most important point in American history for Hispanics. In response, it is imperative that we display our strengths, intelligence, skills, respect, and toughness of our Hispanic culture. We must continue having more and more Hispanics climb the ladder and claim more and more positions of power and leverage to ensure we are not pushed around. We know we are equal to everyone else. Now we need to continue proving it to those that think otherwise through our accomplishments and by conducting ourselves with class. We must not feed into the narrative of "them against us". Our goal is to unite with our fellow Americans so we stand together as a nation. We lead by example. This starts at the individual level. You do your part by being a productive member of society. Strive to reach the highest limits you have both physically and mentally. the rest follows.
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