New Jersey | Attorney
I arrived in the United States at the age of nine not knowing a word of English. It wasn’t easy, as I struggled not only with the challenges of attending a new school and making new friends, but those of learning a new language as well as combating bullying because of my strong accent. Nevertheless, I went on to take honors and AP courses in high school and graduated with honors. Subsequently, I attended Seton Hall University and Seton Hall Law School and went to become a successful trial attorney. I am the first in my family to attend college in the United States and the first to attend law school, but most importantly I am proud that I was able to serve as a role model for my younger sister and cousins.
What have been your struggles as a Latina?
Some of the most challenging times in my life have been when fighting stereotypes both as a woman and as a Latina.
It is unbelievable the number of ignorant comments that I have encountered in life in general, in law school and later on in my profession due to the shape of my body, the color of my skin or the fact that I speak Spanish. Comments that are so degrading they are not to be repeated. However, because of these comments and incidents, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought I ever was and that I belong exactly where I am because I worked extremely hard to accomplish what I have accomplished and that I earned that Juris Doctorate through hard work and dedication. The only way to combat these comments and stereotypes in my profession is in the courtroom.
What does Latina Made mean to you?
Latina Made is pride. It is a movement that is helping to do away with stereotypes of what Latinas should look like or what we represent. We are beyond being sexual objects or portrayed a certain way in the media. We are whatever it is we want to be, we are teachers, doctors, lawyers, counselors, engineers, and we are mothers, daughters, sisters, daughters, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, business owners, and oftentimes we are many of these things all at once. We are whatever we want to be.
What made you who you are today?
I would be remiss if I did not give a lot of the credit for who i am today to my parents. They both left professional careers in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States with nothing. They started from scratch, my dad went from being in a top position for an important government agency to working at a factory and rising through the ranks. My mother did the same, left a position as an accountant and worked at a factory, took night courses to learn the English language and went on to earn a Bachelor and a Master degree. She is now a Spanish teacher to ninth graders and we couldn’t be more proud. However, without my father’s tremendous sacrifice of deciding to leave D.R. and come to the U.S. and then his meticulous work ethic and dedication, working double shifts at times, neither my mother, myself nor my sister could be where we are today. He is the true hero of our this story.
What advice would you give to young Latinas in our community?
Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. It may sound cliche, but it is amazing how much one can achieve if you write down a plan, execute each of the things on your list, and work towards your goals. It is also important to surround yourself with positive people that will support you and provide mentorship and advise as to how to go about achieving these goals. Mentors are so very important, especially when no one in your immediate family or friends circle is knowledgeable in the field where you want to grow. The sky is truly the limit. For example, who said you can’t be a lawyer and a poet all at once?