What country were you born in, and how long have you lived in Cleveland? 

I was born and raised in Marikina, Philippines. I moved to Parma, Ohio from the Philippines in 2006 when I was 14 years old to finally reunite with my single Mom, who worked as an immigrant in the US for a decade. Three years ago, the rest of my siblings joined us, and it has been a long but very fulfilling journey.

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?

As a creative woman, the challenge has always been having an “imposter syndrome” in everything I do. I try to challenge myself in ways that may seem impossible at the moment but learned through each experience that my biggest enemy is always myself. Additionally, growing up in a huge family in the Philippines and moving to a small suburb in Ohio presented a lot of challenges within me and how I interacted with my surroundings; I learned to fight through a lot of doubts and insecurities by really leaning into myself and my Mom. (I learn a lot from her and her sacrifice) I learned to trust people along the way and realized that I can build my own community in any surroundings. You really can’t do anything alone, and support from people you trust is key to any success.

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?

I believe that the communities I am part of are a large part of my identity. I have the opportunities that I have now because of the people who helped lift me along the way. My advice is to never take any person for granted throughout your journey. Learn to understand who your people are and to be grateful. Continue to see ways you can help someone else and always pay it forward.

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

Understanding the importance of integrating immigrants into the workforce by providing access to resources and connections can help the city create jobs and become a more welcoming place. By creating programs where the youth can be more involved in the community and feel empowered to be heard and included.

Sadly, up to now, women still face a significant struggle in their advancement, which is why I think it is essential to highlight all the disparities when we see them and look into ways to call out problematic behaviors and biases within and outside of our communities.