Bernarda Arias Diversity Program Assistant Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
How did you get to where you are today? Bernarda Arias was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She came to the United States at a young age and lived in New York City until she came to Buffalo, NY, in the summer of 1998 to pursue her college education. She is currently the Diversity Program Assistant at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. In this role, Bernarda is in charge of organizing and planning different events throughout the year which focus on celebrating different cultures, holidays and other month-long celebrations such as, Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month. She also handles the many religious events like Celebrate Islam, Festival of Lights as well as luncheons that educate the Roswell Park community of different religions and beliefs. She is also responsible for assisting in handling any harassment and discrimination issues that the Roswell Park staff brings to the Diversity office’s attention. One of the best parts of her job in the Diversity office of Roswell Park is giving back to the community. This is very valuable in itself because helping others also offers many benefits. For example it can help you learn more about yourself, you get to meet interesting people who can give you new insights on things and life but the most important thing is that you are making a difference. It’s eye opening to realize that doing even small things can have a big impact on others. She enjoys planning a lot of the community outreach events with organizations like UBEOC, The Pride Center, The Native American Community Services, Buffalo Employment and Training Center, The Hispanic Heritage Council, Buffalo Urban League and a few other big leaders in the Buffalo community. Bernarda is a qualified Human Resource professional with over 13 years of experience and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from SUNY Buffalo State. She is also an alumna of EOC and attained her Medical Billing and Coding certification in May of 2014. Bernarda is a strong advocate of young women who want to succeed in life. Through her sorority, Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Señoritas Latinas Unidas, She became the co-founder of the L.A.D.Y.S (Leadership, Advancement and Development of our Young Sisters) program. This program focuses on reaching young high school women who are in need of mentors and support while aspiring to enroll in a college/university. She is also an alumni advisor to the Beta Chapter of her sorority which supports the group of young women enrolled at SUNY Buffalo State and the University at Buffalo. Bernarda was the recipients of the Mary B. Talbert Civic & Cultural Club (MBTCCC) award. The Mary B. Talbert Civic & Cultural Club (MBTCCC) is a community organization that honors the legacy of the founder of the NAACP and celebrates individuals who represent outstanding civic commitment and cultural contribution to the community. This year Bernarda was one of the honorees of the Unsung Community Heroes Award. Bernarda was recognized for her work within the community through her sorority and the work she does with Roswell. Bernarda is the proud baseball mom of 14-year old, Christian. Cheering Christian and his teammates on during the Baseball season is her #1 hobby. She is a big believer in overcoming life struggles no matter what obstacles you face and never quitting until you get what you want in life. This is a message she instills in Christian and his baseball team before every game, while maintaining a positive outlook and keeping the fun alive. If there is one thing that she would want everyone to understand is that we must always be humbled, we must always work hard and give back to others. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? I would have to say that my son at only 14 years old has been the most influential person in my life. Having him has given me so much strength and motivation to keep pushing forward and to be a great example for him to follow. Knowing that he is watching me, keeps me on my toes and reminds me that I can't give up. 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 always loved Business which is why I majored in Business Administration. Seeing my uncle build a Business in Dominican Republic inspired me to want my own Business. But along the way I developed a love for Human Resources and as I learned more about this field, I decided to make a small change and go on that direction. Working in HR can sometimes be hard, but it can also be immensely rewarding. One of the benefits of my role is getting to speak to a range of HR leaders and people in my community. People who are doing great work, but also to see the next generation of professional coming through is very inspiring. In my role at Roswell Park, I get to also give back and support the community by bringing in job fairs, facilitating workshops and educating people on the opportunities that we have for them. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? I am Dominican. I came to the U.S when I was only 11 years old. Best memory of growing up. I grew up in Dominican Republic and I have so many amazing memories growing up. Is hard to pick one but I would say, the best one would be just the freedom of walking the neighborhood and playing outside with all of my friends without needing to worry about danger. Best memory of a day at school or work. I would have to say that some of my best days at work are when we celebrate Diversity. I am in charge of putting together cultural events celebrating different cultures. To see how excited the staff gets over me putting together these events to celebrate them is just the best feeling. Best day ever. I would have to say that my best day ever would include, supporting my son in a baseball game, helping people in my community with either a community service or a job fair then going home to my loved ones to spend quality time. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? Buffalo State College, The State University of New York Best book you ever read. The Help by Kathryn Stockett Favorite quote? “The purpose of life is not to just to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have loved and lived well". By Ralph Waldo Emerson Favorite sports team. The New York Giants Favorite song Intentional by Travis Greene Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. To push forward no matter the difficulties that life throws at you. Life can sometimes be very challenging but we must always work hard, be a good citizen to your community and your peers and most importantly your family. Always treat everyone with respect and compassion as we don't know what battles others are fighting. Focus on your purpose, your physical strength, your mental wellness and remember to be confident, but humble. And last but not least, I would advise them to rely on their faith when times get hard. God is very intentional.
Gliset Colón Assistant Professor Buffalo State College
How did you get to where you are today? I am proud to say that I am a young Puertorican female born and raised in Buffalo New York. I attended the Buffalo Public Schools. My mother emphasized the importance of education so I was encouraged to pursue higher education in hopes for a better future. I earned both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Buffalo State College in special education and bilingual special education. More recently, I earned my PhD in special education from the University at Buffalo. I am now the Coordinator for the Bilingual Graduate Certificate at Buffalo State College. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? I was mentored by extraordinary faculty who truly cared about me as a person. I infuse many of the characteristics of my past professors into my current teaching.
Dr. Sarita Samora, former chairperson for the Exceptional Education department, was especially inspiring. Samora began to mentor me during my freshman year, informing me about opportunities in the field of bilingual special education, and was able to provide me with funding support. I continued on into a master’s program and graduated with a bilingual extension. We have maintained a relationship ever since.
Almost 20 years later, she continues to mentor me and is available whenever I need to seek advice or even just for a friendly cup of café con leche! 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? see above answer :-) What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Puerto Rican Best memory of growing up. Living in Puerto Rico and spending time with family. Best memory of a day at school or work. When I graduated with my PhD, I brought my regalia in to my 2nd grade bilingual classroo m. All of the students tried the regalia on and we took pictures and celebrated together! Best day ever. There are so many great days in my life but I would say my best days are when my son and I have celebrated one of his many successes! Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? Buffalo State College - Bilingual Special Education; University at Buffalo - Special Education Best book you ever read. The Color Purple Favorite quote? "No dejas para mañana lo que se puede hacer hoy." Favorite sports team. Buffalo Bills Favorite song Any salsa or bachata song really! Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. No te quites!! Our struggle is real and difficult at times. But know that our potential is limitless. Once given an opportunity, take it and show the world your worth. Vales un millón y más!
Natalia Marte Law Student University at Buffalo School of Law
How did you get to where you are today? My name is Natalia Marte and I am in a joint degree program at the University at Buffalo where I am pursuing both my JD and Ph.D in Sociology.
I was raised in Brooklyn, New York and spent a few years in Providence, Rhode Island. Being raised in a Dominican household by a single mother instilled in me the value of education and pursuing every opportunity that arises. I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Roger Williams University in 2013, then my Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2015, and now I am pursuing both my JD and Ph.D in Sociology.
Education is very important to me and so is giving back to my community. I am very active in student organizations who value the importance of diversifying the legal profession such as the Black Law Students Association and the Latin American Law Students Association. I am also very active in community organizations that value the importance of advocating for the rights of marginalized communities. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? The most influential person in my life was been my mother. I know everyone says this but mothers really shape your outlook on life and can have such a strong influence in your life choices.
My mother migrated from the Dominican Republic to the U.S. in the early 80s and experienced many difficult times trying to assimilate to this new country and culture as well as learning how to navigate it without learning English. It was even more difficult finding employment opportunities when your educational attainment was an elementary school education. Witnessing the tribulations that my mother experienced allowed me to appreciate and understanding the value of education, specifically in this country. It also allowed me to understand how important it is to provide love and support to immigrant communities.
Witnessing my mother's work ethic also instilled in me an appreciation for time. I am extremely efficient with my time because I knew all of the things that my mother could accomplish within a 24 hour time frame. Therefore, I had no excuse to waste time in my education or my daily life. I have always involved myself in activities that would make me productive and also bring meaning to my life, just like my mother did. 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 realized that I wanted to become an attorney by the age of 15 years old. I witnessed many friends and some family members enter the revolving door of the criminal justice system and I always wondered why so many of my friends and family members were victims of police brutality. In college, I started learning more abo ut the factors that lead to mass incarceration as well as the need for police reform. This also led me to become interested in pursuing a career in the legal profession, specifically being a criminal defense attorney. Given my background, I learned about the reasons why people were committing crime and my goal is to humanize my clients and advocate on behalf of them being victims to oppression and failed social institutions. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? I am Afro-Dominican. Best memory of growing up. My best memory growing up was attending the Dominican parade in Manhattan and seeing all of the different colors of Dominicanidad. Best memory of a day at school or work. My best memory at work was witnessing a student receive their college acceptance letter. Best day ever. My best day ever was representing a client in court and attaining a conditional discharge for them. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? I attended Roger Williams University and majored in Psychology and minored in Criminal Justice. I am currently attending the University at Buffalo School of Law and the University at Buffalo Ph.D in Sociology Program. Best book you ever read. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Favorite quote? Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. - Malcolm X Favorite sports team. None Favorite song Here and Now - Luther Vandross Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. Never give up! Remember all of the sacrifices that your parents, grandparents, and ancestors made for you to get where you are today. Align yourself with other Latinx people and lift as you climb!
Eliezer Rosario-Calíz II Parole Officer NYS DOCCS Division of Parole
How did you get to where you are today? See below Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My parents Eliezer Rosario and Maria Cáliz. They worked hard to raise seven children. I couldn’t imagine having that much responsibility. They made sure we had everything we needed growing up. 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? SUNY College at Oneonta Majored in Spanish and Africana Latino Studies. Canisius College Buffalo, New York MS in Education I had the opportunity to participate in the NYS Migrant Education Program in Oneonta NY as a freshman in high school. Years later I was recruited by the College Assistance Migrant Program along with EOP and enrolled at SUNY. My Spanish/Africana and Latino Studiesdegree was the groundwork that paved the way for me to work as a Teacher and Career Advisor for the Buffalo Public Schools, Adult Education Division and Erie County Correctional Facility. Work experiences since my days at SUNY Oneonta prepared me to pursue a M.S. in Education, work in my community not only as an Educator and Mentor, but also as a Probation Officer serving Erie County. As of July 2018, I joined NYSDOCCS as a Parole Officer. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Puerto Rican Best memory of growing up. Many good memories growing up in the Rosario-Cáliz household. Best memory of a day at school or work. Graduation day at SUNY Oneonta, Canisius College and NYSDOCCS Parole Officer Academy. Best day ever. The day my son was born. Marriage. Parents 40th Wedding Anniversary. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? SUNY Oneonta, BA Canisius College, MSED Best book you ever read. Isla de Luz by Elias Miguel Muñoz Favorite quote? For success, attitude is equally as important as ability. - Walter Scott Favorite sports team. Buffalo Bills Favorite song Díez Lagrimas by Lebron Brothers Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. Keep working hard to achieve your goals in life. Regardless of the obstacles and setbacks that you encounter along the way, use that as a learning experience and continue moving forward. Seek out exemplary role models and don’t be afraid ask for help. One day, it’ll be your turn to help the next generation of young people to get ahead. Success is defined by personal achievements. Always remain humble.
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