What country were you born in (if first generation, where is your family from), and how long have you lived in Cleveland? 

I was born in El Salvador, Central America, and came to the U.S. when I was 5 without speaking any English. 

The pioneers and supporters of International Women’s Day believe that “from challenges come change.”: What has been the largest challenge in your journey toward personal success? 

Thanks to ESOL, I was bilingual within 6 months. When my family moved to the Washington, D.C. area, it was before the civil war had started in El Salvador, and there was not a large Salvadoran community to absorb us. In hindsight, this was a blessing. Because, although we held onto our culture and language, we did not retreat into it. As a result, my family had the opportunity to experience many of the international cultures present in the D.C. area. I grew up having close friends from many different ethnicities and grew up trying foods from other countries and listening to foreign languages that, although I did not understand, appreciated, nonetheless. 

You have been nominated for this recognition by another amazing person, proving that we are so much stronger when we support one another. What is one piece of advice you have for women in your community and all over the world?   

My advice is to always expand your world – even when travel is restricted, you can experience other cultures through learning another language, reading books, taking cooking classes, or even attending one of Cleveland’s many cultural festivals. The bigger your world – the greater the opportunities for success.

How can the greater Cleveland community encourage, support, and amplify the success of international women? 

Like D.C. (where I grew up), Cleveland is a city rich with many proud, ethnic populations that have been here for generations and have much to offer. By celebrating our unique backgrounds, without focusing negatively on our differences, I believe that Cleveland, Ohio can truly become a microcosm of a world-class international city.