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? 

The largest challenge in my journey toward professional success was definitely having to learn the road on my own. Both of my parents did not complete high school, as my mother was raised in the West Bank in Palestine and my father in Caracas, Venezuela. Both of their journeys did not afford them the ability to continue their education. My parents’ journey to the United States is one like many immigrants: for a better future for their children. My parents came to the United States with young infants and continued to grow their families while working entry-level jobs to make ends meet. When I graduated high school and knew I wanted to go to college, while my parents were excited that I am choosing a path of options and growth, they weren’t able to help guide me through it. Oftentimes in my professional journey, I have met wonderful people who became part of my professional network- but most of them had parents who helped them build connections, introduced them to professionals in their interested field of work, or connected them to internship opportunities gain experience. My parents didn’t have these experiences or connections to be able to pass them along to me. Building my own connections, branding myself all by myself with my own wit, personality, know-how, and pushing myself to build confidence to not be afraid of what downfalls may arise by not knowing anyone to help me navigate, helped me truly grow even stronger as a person. 

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 to women in our community and across the world is to define your success on your own terms: be your true self and amplify women around you who are on similar paths toward their success. We will never meet everyone’s standards, and another person’s standards may not be our own- but, don’t sell yourself short or let others affect your confidence. Live your own life, follow your passion, and lift other women’s long the way because you never know who wouldn’t be where they are today without your help. We, women, bloom better with one another. 

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

In a world where women still face bias and other barriers at work, on top of bearing the disproportionate burden of the COVID-19 pandemic – having a safe space for women to share their struggles, give and get advice, and celebrate each other’s wins, has never been more important. Allowing for diverse women from various backgrounds to have the mic and platform to lead discussions, make decisions for their own community, lead in innovation that otherwise may not be heard- is something I hope Greater Cleveland can do more of to simply and support international women in all forms. Refugees, immigrants, to second-generation women hold beauty and knowledge from their rich background that holds so much power and benefit to the communities they work in and serve.