Career Spotlight: Director of Nemours Children’s Hospital


By Blair Beggan, Director of Communications for The Association of Air Medical ServicesMaria Fernandez, the Director of Nemours Children’s Hospital, has aced both personal and professional challenges to rise to her current position, but she wouldn’t change a thing. Her heritage and her culture only aid in the work she does today, and I was lucky enough to sit down and speak with her.

1) Could you describe what your current position at Nemours Children’s Hospital entails?

Currently, I work as the Director of Critical Care Transport Services. My patients’ ages range from birth to 18 years of age. And although a lot of my current position requires management and oversight, I am still able to practice my clinical skills. I started as a nurse practitioner, and to this day I still go out and do field work when needed. For me, the ability to go out and transport a pediatric patient that requires critical care is the most rewarding part of my job. I like to be there for the families and friends of the patient, as well as the patient themselves. And my job doesn’t end when the patient leaves the hospital. I follow-up with the patients once they go home and keep track of their progress.

2) How are you involved with the Association for Air Medical Services (AAMS)?

I have been involved with AAMS since 1992! During my first nursing job, I worked very closely with the director of my medical transport team. In 1997, I became a member of AAMS and was involved with the organization from Day One. Being able to attend conferences and training seminars helped me to expand my network and grow as a medical transport care provider. I love the wealth of information that AAMS has given me, both for my professional development and for the growth of the organizations I work for.

3) Can you tell us any stories about patients or situations that were especially meaningful to you?

Several years back, I was on a medical transport for a premature baby who had not yet been home due to ongoing medical issues. The concern was that the baby was going to develop blindness because of how premature he was. The patient was very unstable, but needed to be transported to a specialist at another hospital and the decision on whether or not the baby could make the flight came down to me. But I was confident in my team and the people around me. I knew we could safely transport this baby and give him a chance at a great quality of life. The baby was in Puerto Rico and it was a two hour transport to the states. We stayed by the baby’s side the whole time, making sure he was comfortable and stable. He survived the flight, underwent eye surgery and he is now able to see. The family feels like my decision to transport their son is the reason he isn’t blind today, and I still keep in touch with them to this day. This type of story is the reason I do my job – I want to give these children a chance to have the best life possible.

 

Early this year I had another patient experience that really moved me emotionally. A teenage child was found unconscious about two hours away from my hospital. The medical crew on site was not sure what had caused the child to pass out. I arrived on the scene and immediately began to communicate with my team back in Orlando. We used FaceTime to communicate and share thoughts about the condition. We came to the conclusion that the patient may be having an allergic reaction to medicine. We changed the medicine and, amazingly, the child did a complete 180 and survived. It was wonderful to be able to use my knowledge in a situation like this and help save a life. I tell people all the time that I picked the best profession!

 

4) Can you tell us a little about your background and how your heritage has helped you become the woman you are today?

I was born in Cuba, but I left for Mexico at a very young age. Shortly thereafter, when I was two years old, we immigrated to the United States. My mom was a single parent in New York raising two children, and we grew up speaking mostly Spanish in our home. She was definitely an inspiration motivating us to pursue higher education and take advantage of life in the U.S. Being a single mother myself, I appreciate her even more today and understand how hard she worked to give me a wonderful life.

 

I moved to Miami in 1978 because I wanted to go to University of Miami to get nursing degree. I graduated from nursing school in 1983 and went on to get my masters in nursing at Florida International University (FIU). I then received my Masters in Business Administration and Health Services Administration in 2006. And this December, I will be completing my doctorate in nursing!

I think growing up in a Spanish-speaking household gave me a huge advantage in the nursing world, especially in Miami and Orlando. I am at an advantage for working with patients that a have a Hispanic background because I can speak to them in their native language and put them at ease. During times of crisis, people prefer to speak and communicate in their native tongue and it is wonderful to be able to offer than to them. I love being a mentor for other Hispanic women looking to pursue a career in nursing – I tell them it is something they won’t ever regret!

Haunted: Legends of Our Past

One part of our culture is the leyendas or legends that are passed down throughout the time. As legends are passed through the grape vine each person, family, or even city has different versions of legends. Legends were once used to pass time or even scare children into behaving. Legends are an important part of our culture and are fun to talk about at anytime.

La Llorna:
“The crying woman” which is the literal translation of the phrase, is one of the most infamous leyenda. Though there are many versions of the story they all tell of a woman drowning her children either in sorrow, insanity, or selfishness. The tale most commonly goes that a young beautiful Mexican woman fell in love with a Spaniard, they had two children together. She waited and waited for him to make her his wife but that day never came. One day she decided she could hold her silence no more and traveled to his house to talk to him of their future. Upon her arrival she saw a fiesta (party) going on; it was her Spaniard’s wedding celebration to another woman. She was incredibly heartbroken and in a fit of insanity she drowned her children in the nearby river. She later realized what she had done and was cursed to wander the earth forever searching for her children. Some versions say that she drowned her children because she was waiting for her husband who never returned or that she wanted to rid herself of the burden the children caused. Each version warns children to not be out late at night because La Llorna searches each night for her lost children.

La Calle de la Quemada:
This legend despite its title (“the street of the burnt woman”) is not haunting like most legends, but instead tells the love story between Doña Beatriz and Martin Scipoli. Doña Beatriz was the most beautiful girls in her town; she easily charmed all men and had many suitors. Her father constantly pestered her to marry one of the men that loved her but she did not love any of them. One day she met a young Italian by the name of Don Martin Scipoli and they instantly fall in love. Soon the couple reaches turmoil as Don Martin is incredibly jealous and fights with everyman who looks at Beatriz. Doña Beatriz grows fearful that he only loves her for her beauty and decides to create a test. She places a wet handkerchief on her eyes and buries her face in coals becoming incredibly disfigured. Upon seeing her Don Martin does not act disgusted but instead ask her to marry him. They loved each other and neither one ever lived in fear again.

Pascualita:
There once was a clothing store in Chihuahua and the owner of the store (Pascuala Esparza) was said to have one of the most beautiful daughters in all of Mexico. Her daughter was soon to be married and on her wedding day tragedy struck, she was bitten by a black widow. Pascuala sunk into a depression and the store was closed for weeks. When the store re-opened everyone was in raptures over a new mannequin placed at the largest window in the store. The mannequin was incredibly beautiful and looked very life like. Soon people began to wonder about the mannequin because its eyes seemed to follow you and sometimes people swore it would come to life by smiling or winking at you. It was said that Pascuala found it difficult to part with her daughter that she preserved her body in the form of a mannequin.

By Ytzel McDaniel

Preguntale a Julianna: Amistad

15 de Julio
Escrito Por: Julianna Sanchez
Traducido Por: Luisana Clarke

Querida Julianna,
Aveces, la gente se burla de mí porque me esfuerzo a que me vaya bien en la escuela. Quiero ser exitosa en la vida y comprarles cosas lindas a mis padres cuando sea mas grande. Solo estoy intentando de mejorar mi vida. ¿Qué puedo hacer cuando la gente se burle de mi por sacar buenas calificaciones?

Querida Amiga,
¡Que genial que has decidido dedicarte en la escuela! Al final, nuestros esfuerzos se recompensarán. Creo que lo mejor que puedes hacer cuando se burlen de tus calificaciones es ignorar esos comentarios. Tú conoces tus razones para esforzarte y no hay necesidad de explicarselas a nadie. Sigue hechándole ganas en la escuela y muy pronto, alcanzarás tu meta de mejorar tu vida.

Con cariño,
Julianna

Querida Julianna,
Tengo una amiga que me hace sentir mal delante de la gente. A solas, es como una mejor amiga. No estoy segura de como hacerle, pero me deprime. ¿Qué debería hacer? ¿Qué harías tú en mi lugar?

Querida Amiga,
Hay un dicho que dice, “Con amigas así, ¿para que quieres enemigas?” Seguramente yo dejaría de hablarle y dejaría de juntarme con ella. Un amigo debería tratarte por igual en público y en privado tambien. Si la situación te deprime, tal vez deberías platicar frente a frente con tu amiga. Puedes preguntarle porqué te trata diferente delante de los demás. Si la situacion no mejora, busca amigas nuevas quienes te aprecien y te traten de la manera en que tú mereces.

Con cariño,
Julianna

Actor Luis Guzmán

Source: http://www.hispanicizeevent.com/

Source: http://www.hispanicizeevent.com/

At the Hispanicize Conference in Miami, where Latinitas co-founders Alicia Rascón and Laura Donnelly won the 2015 Positive Impact Award, they got the chance to interview the well-known actor Luis Guzmán, recipient of the Latinovator Award at Hispanicize 2015. Read below for his conversation with Laura, in which he delves into his inspirational success story and offers young Latinas advice on how to be women of integrity.

We are trying to change Hollywood. How close are we?
We’re right there. Technology has changed so much. There is easier access to the public now. We have the power of Internet and you can record or do a video on your phone or make a podcast. There are so many different outlets to pass a message. Even just doing short movies and putting them on YouTube – that has such an impact. By having this impact we outside Hollywood can do all this stuff to have an impact, and empower young girls…

To become directors themselves, or writers, or graphic designers.
Yeah, anything is possible. Especially now on a laptop. You can build anything from that. You can build fabric, clothes, design, you name it. But also you hit play and it records and you can edit it right there. Something you do in five minutes can have an incredible impact on the whole world.

 Who is a female you admire that is taking Latino voices to new spaces?
I admire people like Rosario Dawson. She does a lot of work for the whole community. Rosie Perez too. They don’t only impact the female community but also act as role models. Rosario does a lot of work with the Lower East Side Girl Club [in New York City] and Voto Latino.

Tell us a little about how you got your first start and what inspired you to go into the field?
I was a social worker on the Lower East Side and one day a few of my kids didn’t show up to the program, so I went out into the street looking for them. I happened to run into a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a few years, and he told me he was writing for a TV show and they were coming to NY and were going be looking for people [to cast]. He gave me a phone number, so I called up, went in, and auditioned. I had no clue what I was doing.

Next thing I know, I am costarring on the season premiere of Miami Vice. But I still maintained my job as a social worker for awhile because I didn’t know anything about acting or the entertainment industry. And I was really dedicated and committed to empowering young people and getting them off of welfare, and giving them tools to go out and succeed in society. Basically the tools that I provided were questions. “Who are you? Where are you going? How are you going to get there? Where do you want to be six months from now? A year? Five years?” And I found out nobody ever asked them these questions. They were like: “Oh wow, I never even thought about that because nobody ever asked.” So when you provide people with those kinds of mental tools they refocus themselves.

I used to tell all the young people I worked with: “Think of yourself as a camera lens. Right now you’re really out of focus. My job is to help you help yourself get better into focus.” So that’s what I do and I still go back to where I used to work and I talk to the young people. It’s an important element of my life because though I love what I do as an entertainer and getting to travel the world it’s important to come back. Sometimes the young people there put me on a pedestal. I didn’t necessarily want to be on that pedestal, but they see someone who comes from the same place as them and succeeded. I have the ability to give people faith and to give people hope.

You’d be great in Latinitas! What advice do you want to give to the girls at Latinitas?
Believe in yourself, take pride in who you are, love yourself. Respect yourself as a woman. Don’t give into male domination. Be in control and let a boy know that ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes.’ And as far as bullying goes, because that’s a big thing, bullying is not the way to go. Protect each other from that. Unfortunately there are girls out there who don’t have the love, don’t have the support, so they choose suicide over enduring violence.

DIY: Organizing your Jewelry

5502050-1Written by Priscilla Moctezuma

Accessorizing is a girl’s best friend! Organizing your cute jewelry doesn’t mean having to buy expensive containers. These DIY jewelry organizers are easy, simple, quick, and under $20.00 or less. It is fun and anyone can help you do it.

Necklace Organizer
This cute DIY  includes the use of power tools, so ask your parents or an adult for help!

Supplies:  1 Piece of wood, Acrylic Paint (choose a color) & Foam Brush, Drill, Sander, 10 hooks & 2 clips/latches

First, sand around the piece of wood with the sander — this includes the edges including the edges. Second, apply the acrylic paint with the foam brush on the wood of the desired color you’ve chosen. Next, allow the wood to dry. After the paint dries you can get creative and write a small quote on the top corner or you can always paint on a design. Third, you’ll need to drill in the 10 hooks in the middle or bottom. Just be sure you leave about ½ inch of space in between each hook to allow the necklaces to hang freely. Last, drill or hammer in the clips/latches at the back of the wood and hang it up!

Another necklace organizer — seriously, you can never have too many necklaces.

Supplies: Hammer, Curtain rod, Shower curtain hooks

This DIY is very simple and quick. First, you hammer in where you want to place your curtain rod. Second, put the shower curtain hooks on the rod and allow 1 inch of space in between each hook. Last, place necklaces on the heavier side of the hook to balance out. By the way, you could also use it as a bracelet organizer as well, just don’t add on the second step.

Earring Frame Organizer
Supplies: Picture Frame, Chicken Wire, and Picture Hanging Strips

First, buy a cheap, old picture frame and spray paint it the color you want it to be. Second, cut out the chicken wire to fit the frame. Then, put the chicken wire in first with the rest of the frame. Last, flip the picture frame over and stick on the picture hanging strips along the edges of the frame. Then,  stick it against the wall. Viola! You’ve created your very own earring organizer!

 Storage drawer Earring Organizer

Supplies: Plastic storage drawer, foam, and paint.

In this DIY, if you already own storage boxes, skip the first step. First, you will need to buy the amount of storage drawers you need to fit the amount of earrings you own. Second, cut the foam it to fit the size of the drawer and fill it in. Last, insert your earrings. Prefect way to sort your earrings.

Want VS Need

MoneyWritten by Priscilla Moctezuma

Have you ever walked into your favorite clothing store and wanted to buy every single item? I know I have, and it is extremely tempting. The real question you should ask yourself is:“Do I want it or do I need it?” Teaching yourself not to buy certain things will not be easy, but worth it. It begins with identifying the differences between want vs. need. When you want something it is because you desire it, everyone has it, so now I want one. On the other hand, when you need something it is because you cannot survive without it.In contrast, another way to look at differences is by observing how we eat. For example, needing something to eat vs. wanting to go out to a nice restaurant.

When you are of age to start working, getting a job will help create the boundaries between want vs need. In the mean time, volunteer! Volunteering looks amazing on your college application, and it will help you recognize the differences between your wants and needs.”What you want” will no longer matter because you will surround yourself with people who are less fortunate than you are and it will help you recognize that wanting the new iPhone will no longer be an importance to purchase since it’s something you don’t necessarily need at the moment. Doing so, will put everything into perspective and helps them realize “the new outfit mom bought was not a big deal anymore”.

Amelia*, a high school junior, says she loves to help her community. “It  teaches me that I can change a person’s life by a simple smile or a conversation. Volunteering helped me set aside my wants and focus on the things I already had. So, should you volunteer ? Absolutely! It really change my perspective on life.”

When you are ready to start working in high school, a job and creating a budget will help determine your wants vs needs. Balancing your money is super important.  A job can teach you the value of the dollar by working hours to get more money.  Once you have received your money, set it aside.  Cash can be very easy to spend, so I recommend storing it away. This method can allow your savings to increase and can create the opportunity to spend on something you truly need.

“One thing I have learned about getting a job is that’s it not easy, but totally worth the paycheck. Sure, you have urges to spend, but once you realize how much a meal is at Chick-fil-a that price helps you establish a budget. Especially, if you have the responsibility of paying for your cellphone bill now, like me since I am about to be considered an adult, my parents say. My advice is budget yourself. Once that is done, you can then separate what you need and want,” says Marianne, high school senior.

I know it’s hard to not buy that cute dress at the mall, but other young girls do not have that option. So, next time just think to yourself, “do I really need it? If the answer no, walk away.

*Name has been changed. 

Making Your Desk a Little Happier

Mod-Podge-desk-organizer

Credit: CraftyAmy from Babble.com

Written by Elena Barrera-Walters

Having a clean, organized, and inviting desk is the best way to get your work done, no matter the time of year. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the clutter and piles of pencils, in which case, that’s where this can help you.

YOU NEED:

  • a desk
  • a few desk organizers
  • a whiteboard
  • school supplies
  • bucket or box (if necessary)

1. If at all possible, get a desk that has a lot of room and space for organization. The more space, the better. It makes the work environment seem much less intimidating.

2. Organize and separate your supplies. Have what you use most often, usually pens and pencils, in the most available area. Put them into a desk organizer for easy access and separate them as you see fit.

3. Have a space specifically reserved for any extra school supplies, or big boxes of things. Boxes of markers or new notebooks always go in the same drawer, so it’s easier to know where to go when you need something.

4. Have an area for your electronic supplies or any other less commonly used school supplies. While it doesn’t need to be quite as well organized or accessible as the pens and pencils, it’s still very necessary to know where those items are.

5. You want to make sure that you are able to put your actual school binders and notebooks somewhere other than the exact space you’ll be working on. If you have more drawer space, keep them there, or buy a bucket or box to keep them in so they aren’t distracting or in the way.

6. For little study tools, I recommend putting them on top of your desk, as a source of inspiration to actually do that studying. Have a little organizer with post-its and paper clips, as well as some flash cards available.

7.  On a white board, set up a system to keep yourself prioritized. Making a chart with things you need to do, to study for, or prepare for really helps you with organizing how and when you’ll be doing your work.

8. While it isn’t necessary for homework, it’s really important to have some happy things on your desk that will make it feel like an inviting place to be. While candles or magazines are really good options, there are many things you could do that make your desk seem a little less intimidating.

 

While going to do work at a desk probably isn’t what you look forward to most in your day, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a place you dread going to. Having an organized space, with a few little things to make you happy, will make the whole work process much less scary.

Career Spotlight: Lecturer

booksCarolyn Rhea Drapes is an instructor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), she holds a PhD and imparts English and business writing classes.

What are some of your job responsibilities?

As a graduate student, I seek to use the dissertation process and time to create new knowledge and collaborate with my peers. Moreover, as an Assistant Instructor, I am tasked with gaining teaching experience as an RWS instructor of undergraduate rhetoric and writing, technical writing, and business writing courses.

Describe your educational background and how it helped you prepare for your career?

After first graduating from Loretto, I entered UTEP immediately, but then left school to help raise a family and work. Later, when my younger daughter entered high school, I re-enrolled at UTEP and completed a BA in Creative Writing. I then entered the RWS program and completed a MA in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, and am now in its doctoral program. All said whether in the workplace or traditional classroom situations, my personal and work experiences have enabled me to bring a unique perspective to the classroom. In addition, working as a corporate Webmaster, visual specialist, and social media maven from the mid-90s through today has helped me to use this eclectic skill set which is perfect for teaching. Overall, I see this as a natural progression.

How did you find your current job?

Previously, all positions with the exception my position with El Paso Natural Gas Company (which was found through an agency) was obtain with the help of friends and associates. My current job differs in that it was acquired from being accepted into the graduate program. As an Assistant Instructor, I am assigned courses to teach each semester, including summer classes when the opportunity arises.

How did you prepare for this career?

To prepare to teach in the program, I first earned the required number of graduate level course credits, which included a pedagogy course. This training also included shadowing an experienced instructor within the program. That semester I attended her class and observed others while also attending my graduate courses. Before the end of that semester, I was helping lecture. Throughout the semester, my teaching mentor and I normed grades and discussed various issues that a teacher is likely to encounter in the classroom. Currently, I attend several meetings each semester with those in the program; in these, we have the opportunity to learn and explore various teaching methods. Continuing professional education in the field ensures that our camaraderie remain vital, informed, and progressive.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Helping students gain their own set of writing and research skills is always important. However, a favorite aspect is appreciating their hard work and why they seek to remain in school and work towards a specific goal. Each goal is as different as the students I teach. This inspires me as I enjoy hearing about their lives and listening to their stories. This helps me understand their situation, which allows me to encourage them to use their current and past experiences when earning their degree. Their reasons for furthering their education help me immensely. Each day in the classroom, I learn new things, and this helps me improve my own writing and research methods.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

An important challenge is to balance my research and writing with teaching and, of course, to make time for my family. My family supports me, which is vitally important to my teaching and working towards my degree. Without them, my life would be quite empty and more difficult to navigate.

What impact does your profession have on young Latinas?

We as graduate instructors seek to help all students better understand the importance of working towards a goal, whether it is the goal of an assignment, or the goal of completing their degree. We support their aims and goals, no matter the degree. Rarely do I ever see a student that is undeclared or uncertain about what they want to do with their lives; this shows me how focused our student population is. Latinas, as are all students, whether young or returning, are valued greatly at this institution. To that end, we are given the opportunity to impart our knowledge and to positively support them.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

Photography, drawing, and writing have been life-long passions. I have found that I tend to capture images surrounding my life each day and then seek to manipulate and use them creatively. Even if I am unable to leave campus or home, I find I am constantly composing, whether with images or texts. I also like to read and explore social media trends.

Does living in a border city make you more aware of Hispanic issues?

Of course. My entire life has been a voyage between cultures and economic situations, even when my family and I left El Paso for life in Northern New Mexico for a time. Moreover, as a child of and partner in bicultural marriages, I find we all walk a fine line between various communities constantly. It is interesting to view how each group works with, for, and against each other. We blend and separate constantly, which makes it difficult to find and work for positive change for the whole.

What advice would you give to help girls to prepare for a job like this?

I would say that young women of all ages should think about what it is that they wish to accomplish and then, how to best attain that goal or sets of goals. While the path may shift or change, each student, each woman has a great opportunity to enrich their lives by completing their degree and stepping out into the wider world ready to make a positive impact. If they seek a graduate degree, they should understand that they would enter not only a scholarly environment for themselves, but also learning one for her and for others as well. She will need to understand that she is there to share her skills and knowledge so that the next group of young Latinas can learn and grow positively from the experiences she will share with them.

It’s Not Just a Dress

Credit: http://www.couturesbylaura.com/

Credit: http://www.couturesbylaura.com/

Written by Arianna Gomez

 

The incoming First Lady of Texas visited Coutures by Laura on a rainy Friday afternoon for one of the final fittings for the gown and dress ensemble she is to wear for the inauguration and ball. Coming off the coattails of a hard-earned victory in the governor’s election this past fall, one might expect a- rightly- proud woman. The kind of woman whose demeanor implies power and importance.
Yet there is no air of superiority. To a passerby, she appears entirely ordinary- simply one of the many influential Texan women that frequent the boutique. She speaks kindly with the seamstresses, and often consults her assistant for advice in a manner that suggests a friend seeking the opinion of another friend; she greets everybody with a handshake or a polite nod and smile. And, amidst the busyness of a fitting, Mrs. Abbott converses with me as I look on as Laura Gonzalez, my grandmother, makes those final adjustments to ensure that just right fit.
The gown. Under the light of the crystal chandelier which hangs in the showroom, it is a deep, rich red, starkly contrasting the rainy and grey weather that can be seen outside the window. Like every aspect of the gown, the color was carefully chosen by Ms. Gonzalez & Mrs. Abbott. “(We chose) the color red to represent the Republican party, but especially because the color red was really capitalized upon in the campaign,” she says, turning in the mirror at Ms. Gonzalez’s request. They are attempting to decide upon the belt of the dress; there are two styles Ms. Gonzalez has crafted. Ultimately, Mrs. Abbott selects the band adorned with a unique flower, made of the same material as the dress, as she feels it truly ties together the classic yet simple style of the dress.
Indeed, the phrase classic yet simple truly sums up the First Lady of Texas’ style. “I like the style because, to me, it doesn’t change with time. I like it simple,” she says. Ms. Gonzalez nods in agreement as she alters the gown ever so slightly. Style is not the only thing that the two women see eye to eye on, though- the handful of shared values between them is one of the many reasons that Cecilia Abbott chose Coutures by Laura to create her attire for the big day. 
Values of family, education, service, perseverance in the face of adversity, and faith were all cited by Mrs. Abbott as common principles between the two Hispanic women, along with their drive and determination. In an era when the Hispanic people are often dubbed the silent minority, they are anything but silent, each working hard to achieve their goals and succeed, to leave a legacy for future generations.
It was their common bond in heritage that served as a large component in the decision of who was to design the attire for Mrs. Abbott’s appearances at the Inauguration and Ball. And it was this common bond that gave Laura Gonzalez the desire to create the inauguration attire, and reach out to Cecilia. 
I wanted to make the clothes she would wear on such an important day because I knew her and because she’s Hispanic. I knew her already from her previous visits to the boutique – so I wanted to help her to be dressed the best way she could be, the way that best complimented her, and the best way I could serve her within my abilities and capacities… I really wanted to be of assistance to the woman that is going to be the first Hispanic First Lady of Texas,” she says. 
Over the course of the weeks Ms. Gonzalez worked on this dress,  and I came to realize that it represented what Mrs. Abbott and Ms. Gonzalez stood for. This dress was created with hard work, with careful stitches, with meticulous attention to detail. 
And this drive came, in part, from her heritage and past. Ms. Gonzalez has been in the business for over thirty years; Coutures by Laura began as a small boutique in McAllen, Texas. Ms. Gonzalez says she was taught the art of designing, creating and sewing as a very young girl. 
“I strongly believe that this passion for sewing, designing and creating is in my genes,” Ms. Gonzalez says. 
Her drive to design is much like Cecilia’s drive to better education within Texas, which has come from her parents- dedicated educators who were the children of immigrants. 
Hispanic people are hard workers; I saw this in the care and time my grandmother, Ms. Gonzalez, put into the dress and gown. Despite the hours and considerable effort that went into the gown, however, not once did she complain, or take off, or wish to be doing something else. She worked hard. She worked quietly, late into the night and early in the morning. She persevered. She did her best- a value instilled in her at a young age, from her own family as she grew up in Mexico.
“My Uncle Rafael always said to be the best at what you do. If you’re going to be a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper there is. So if I’m going to make dresses, I’m going to be the best at making dresses,” she says.
And the dress certainly was the best. As Mrs. Abbott stood in the mirror at the final fitting, it was easy to see that it fit just right, moved smoothly, and complimented Cecilia well, but yet never commanded so much attention that the eyes were not focused on the wearer. The hard work that had gone into the gown was visible. After she had inspected it closely one last time, and guaranteed that it was truly perfect, there it was: that hint of quiet pride that the Hispanic people hold, reflected in Laura Gonzalez’s eyes. 
It did not linger for long. She was already thinking about what was coming next. 

Living La Vida Healthy

Water - healthy optionHealthy chicas share their top tips to staying healthy.

1. Focus on the Whole You

-“You not only have to focus on being physically healthy or good eating habits, but also being mentally healthy, emotionally healthy and physically.” -Ariana

-“Being healthy by staying active and eating well will give you energy and it improves your emotional and physical being.”-Lesly

-“Keep your body healthy both mentally and physically.” – Elizabeth

 

2. Stay Active

-“Stay fit so that you can feel good about yourself.” -Victoria.

-“Exercising is healthy like volleyball, basketball, track, tennis and dancing.” – Ydaliz

-“Go outside and get active for 60 minutes or more.” – Alyssa

-“Exercise to keep your body healthy.” -Kiara

-“Be more active to keep your body healthy.” – Ashley

-“Exercise by doing zumba, yoga or even belly dancing.” – Abigail

 

3. Eat Healthy Foods

-“Eat healthy like veggies and fruit. Eat breakfast every day.  -Ashley

-“Eat vegetables and fruits.  It is not good to eat junk food all the time, but it is okay to eat a little bit for it sometimes.” -Alyssa

-“You should eat a lot of green vegetables and eat lots of colorful fruits to stay strong and safe.” – Natalie

-“We should eat more healthy stuff then junk food.” – Kiara

-You have to stay healthy and don’t eat a lot of junk food.” -Senorina

 

4. Be Confident & Take Care of Your Mental Health

-“Don’t listen to what others think or say to you.” -Elizabeth

-“You should also not compare yourself to other people and never give up on yourself.” – Victoria

-“I’ve been struggling with my self-esteem for a while, but I learned how to stay healthy mentally and physically. I know that I’ll eventually learn how to be content with me and my body.” -Ariana

-“You shouldn’t criticize yourself or compare yourself to other people.” – Senorina

-“Don’t think negative about yourself and love who you are.” -Elizabeth

5. Make Healthy Choices

-“Don’t do drugs like alcohol or smoking.” – Ydaliz

-“Smoking can cause a lot of bad stuff like it can cause cancer and it will cause a lot of problems.” – Kiara

-“Don’t smoke. It can cause lung cancer.” – Avery

-“Don’t drink alcohol. Too much beer can give you brain damage.” -Daniella