Life of a Teen Model

10003311_828865390463183_752459193_n (5)Currently in her senior year of high school, Kiersten Anderson shares a passion for life, family, and friends. Originally from New York, Kiersten currently resides in Miami where she is pursing her dream of being a teen model.

Who is your biggest role model?
My biggest role model is my beautiful mother, who I adore with all my heart.  She is my mother and father, as my parents are divorced and I rarely see my father.

You shared that you had been bullied in the past, can you tell us more about the experience?
I consider myself pretty popular in school and have a lot of friends.  When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I wasn’t popular and I can honestly say food was my friend. I enjoyed eating snacks and donuts late at night food, and, due to my night snacks, I was a little on the chunky/chubby side and was picked on by many children in school. Often I would tell my mother that I wasn’t feeling good or that I had a fever just to stay home and not have to deal with the bullying in school.  Kids would not want to eat or sit with me or even want to be my friend.  I was always very quiet and reserved, and was kind of a loner. My best friend was my mother, who, at the time, was a single mom because we had moved from New York to Miami and my father decided not to follow us.  My mother would always reassure me that eventually things would change and that I would make friends.  Things got so bad that my mother had to change my school because the teachers and principal would not do anything about the bullying happening to me in school.

As I started getting older, my mother stopped allowing me to eat the late night snacks and donuts. Her and I started doing lots of activities and she put me in dance class.  All the exercise made me lose a lot of weight, so, when I was like 10 or 11 years old, I saw myself becoming thin and getting tall. I had no problems making friends and the kids weren’t being mean to me anymore.  I have to be honest, when I was being bullied I hated the world and everything in it. But, because of my wonderful mother, I was able to overcome all the bullying and see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Fast-forward to now, I am 5’7, beautiful, tall, model who had overcome a lot of turmoil as a child. I am blessed to have a wonderful family, mother who loved me and taught me that we can overcome any obstacles as long as we don’t give up or give in to the behavior of others.

What advice do you have for those who are being bullied?
The bullies were the ones with the problem, not me.  I believe that by sharing my story I can help a child overcome bullying, because if I can make it, anyone can.  Bullying is a huge problem in this day and age, with a lot of children killing themselves because they feel they don’t have any solution.  Well, my solution is speak to your parents; don’t think you’re alone, seek help, and don’t allow the bully to win the war.

intru (6)What does being a teen Latina model entail?
Being a Latina teen model can be very challenging at times, because racism still exists in the world. Sometimes the casting designers will by pass the Hispanic and Black beautiful models and instead pick the white/faired skin, blue eyes blonde haired girls.  I am very confident, so when I am not picked by a designer I don’t let that bother me. I am friendly with all models, but I do see the favoritism.

How did you begin modeling?
I started modeling at the age of 13 and have modeled ever since.  On the streets people would tell me, “You are so pretty, why don’t you model?” My mom took me to an agency, they took photos, and soon after that I was modeling.

Do you have other interests, what are they?
I love to read books, love to go shopping and love to be in front of the camera. I like to play volleyball and go bike ridding. I also volunteer at the Animal shelter by taking care of animals that people don’t want.  We help find loving homes for those pets in need.

How are girls following you?
I have a following of young girls and teens through social media.  Also, I work as a volunteer in the Children’s cancer ward and every time I have a fashion event or show they always want to see my photos or videos, so the nurses will put on my videos for them to watch.

What advice do you have for young Latinas pursuing their dreams?
My advice to young Latina’s trying to pursue their dreams is shoot for the stars and to not believe anyone that says you can’t do it.  You can do anything you put your mind and heart to do.  With hard work eventually come rewards.  LATINAS, let’s stand up and be heard!  As we do have a powerful voice!

Spotlight: Pamela Silva Conde


From former Miami Dolphin’s cheerleader to full-time anchor on Univision’s Primer Impacto, Pamela Silva Conde is a woman of ambition and determination.

This Peru native has worked her way up the media ladder and has covered national and international news, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Boston marathon bombings. Her TV presence and journalistic work has made her a six-time Emmy award-winning journalist, one of PEOPLE’s 50 most beautiful, and one of the 25 most powerful Hispanic women in the world.

Pamela’s fame, however, has not swayed her from her humble roots. She’s a passionate philanthropist, who has devoted her time to numerous organizations and charities, as well as creating a scholarship for 1st generation college students.  Her upbringing has played a major role in all her achievements.

How was your home-life? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Peru – Lima, Peru – and I migrated to the United States when I was about 10 years old. My mother came first and we were apart for about three years before I finally moved to the States. I was brought up in Miami, so Florida has been my home ever since. I went to undergrad here, I went to grad school here, so I’ve been in Florida for the rest of my adult life.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a journalist? How did you get into the field?

I always knew that I wanted to. As soon as I got to college, I always wanted to do journalism. But I think when I was very very young, when I came to the States, I had a chance to do some TV work and that’s when I realized how powerful and universal media was. So from a very young age, I always new that I wanted to do something with media and influence people and just motivate people. Especially when you come from a humble background – and a Hispanic home – you want to be something that makes your community very proud. So growing up in the States, I knew that I wanted to do something with Hispanic media – that’s why Univision was my dream job. As soon as I started college, I got an internship and decided to come back to Miami to finish college there because Univision was the main Spanish network based out of Miami. I, also, grew up watching Univision and it all just came full circle when I finally got a chance to get a job there. I’ve been with them for almost eleven years. It really has been a win-win situation because it’s more than just a job for me. It is very personal for me to be able to do something with my Hispanic community.

From cheerleading to being a weather girl to an anchor, were there any obstacles you faced while working your way up?

There are always obstacles, especially in this industry because it is so competitive. There will always be obstacles with whatever job you take, but I think I take a lot of pride in whatever job I got or whatever opportunity I got. I know in that moment you feel like, “oh my god, should I be doing this? Do I really want to do news?” But it all comes together, retrospectively. All the dots connect. And I know it may not make sense at that moment, but take it and do it with a lot of pride. Be the best at whatever you may be doing, whether is be a small job – there’s never a job too small – and just give it a 100%. In the end, and once you look back, you realize that all the experience and all the things you ended up doing contributed to what you’re doing currently. But for me, everything that I did from when I was a producer, when I was a reporter, when I did weather, and when I cheered for the Dolphins – everything added and contributed to who I am today. I have been able to do well at work because I have all these skills that I have picked up along the way

What’s your favorite part about your job? What is the hardest?

My favorite part is that every day is different. That’s the most exciting thing about my job. I wake up every morning and obviously with news, you cannot really control it. You never know if it’s going to be a fast day or a slow day. And I think that’s the most amazing part about it. Every day I get to interview someone different or share a story that I’ve never heard about. The unpredictable part of it all is what I enjoy the most.

 The hardest part is, well, the schedule. You have to manage your time and sacrifice a lot of your personal time to do it. But once you’re so passionate about it, you love it so much. It’s hard for me to even pick a hard part because I do enjoy it so much.

You give a lot back to the community, what inspired you to do so and is there a specific cause you are passionate about?

I definitely do think, from a very young age, that I have to thank my mom for instilling that in me, even when we didn’t have a lot. But it’s about doing whatever you can and just giving a little bit back. Since I was very young, I’ve always had that in me. I’ve been very blessed. The more blessings I get, the more I just want to give back and be very involved. I always say it’s not about ‘quantity’ but ‘quality’.  I’m involved with three organizations. I started a scholarship for undergrad students at my alma mater and I’m very involved with that. I’m very active with St. Jude’s Pediatric Hospital, so I’m one of their Hispanic spokesperson. I’ve been very involved and I’ve been to the hospital – I try to go once a year. And there’s another nonprofit, Amigos For Kids, that’s mission is to address and prevent child abuse and neglect. I’m on the board for that organization. I always try to help out other nonprofits that ask for help, but I am definitely more hands on with those three.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring journalists?

Work hard and stay humble. To not give up and stay focused. It is a very competitive world and it is a constantly changing industry, also, with media and technology constantly changing. But I think it is definitely worth the sacrifice, if you stay focused and find the right mentor that can really help you get where you want to be. Once you get there, it is such a fun ride. It’s all worth it.

Do you have any advice for young Latinas?

For young Latinas, I feel the most important advice is not to forget your heritage. I think instead of thinking ‘am I Latina’ or ‘am I more Mexican,’ I think it’s best just to take it in as an advantage. I always tell people that I don’t believe – in regards to myself – oh I’m just Latina or anything special. You really are 100% Latina and 100% American and really take that as an advantage as something that is going to compliment you more than anything. Be proud of being Latina.

You can watch Pamela on Univision’s Primer Impacto on weekdays at 5p/4c.

Latina Spotlight: Raquel Reichard

Journalism, like many career fields, are glamorized by the media. If you’re aspiring to live like Carrie Bradshaw, then you’ll be disappointed. It’s a tough, cut throat world in which thick skin is a necessity. With more insight on what it’s like to be a freelance journalist in New York City is Raquel Reichard, who is currently pursing her MA at New York University’s Gallatin School.

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Photo Credit:

Raquel Reichard’s résumé is nothing short of impressive. Apart from attending the prestigious Gallatin School at NYU, the former Latinitas intern has had her work published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Latina and Elle, just to name a few. She is Puerto Rican and was born in Queens, but grew up in Orlando and is currently living in the Bronx.

LATINITAS: Why did you choose to be a journalist?

RAQUEL: I had no guidance and no idea what I wanted to do in college, but I knew I wanted to go. No one in my family had gone to college before me. I had to choose something and my English teachers always said I was good at writing, so I took Intro to Journalism at St. John’s and fell in love.

LATINITASYour parents must have been proud of you for being the first in the family to attend college, right?

RAQUELMy parents didn’t read newspapers or magazines, so they didn’t have any at home. No one understood too well about this world of going to college and journalism. They were happy (I was going college), but it would have been okay not to go to school because no one else had.

LATINITASThere’s a huge misconception on what it’s actually like to be a journalist in New York City, most people think they’re going to live like Carrie Bradshaw and work for Vogue.

RAQUEL: I’m not Carrie Bradshaw (laughs). I go to graduate school at NYU and do a lot of freelance writing and various jobs to support myself. I rarely see my girlfriends because I have to pay my bills. You’re likely not going to work at a magazine you love right after you graduate, you have to take what you can.

LATINITASNew York is tough, especially when you don’t have help.

RAQUELIt takes a lot of effort living in this city and being alone. I don’t have help from my parents, they both work to support themselves. I don’t have much of a personal life, but if I was living in Orlando I wouldn’t have the same opportunities that I do now that come with being in a big city.

LATINITAS: What keeps you motivated?

RAQUELThis is what I love to do… It’s challenging but I love what I do. Those who do it are passionate about it. If you weren’t, you couldn’t survive in this field because it’s so demanding. Latinas are under represented in this field. I don’t have the same privileges as others do of knowing people and having connections (already established). There’s still racism and sexism in this country and if I want to make it in a renounced publication I have to do twice the work. I have to have more internships than most people. I have to have more editorial assistant jobs on my résumé.

LATINITAS: Speaking of that, how often do you come across racism and sexism?

RAQUELIt’s definitely happened more than once. There are many times where I’ve been the only Latina, and sometimes only woman, in the newsroom discussing Latina related subjects and I know I’m just there filling a quota. It’s happened in big and small newspapers and magazines. Sometimes people don’t realize what they’re saying is belittling, racist, sexist or classist.

LATINITASWhat is your advice when coming across things like that?

RAQUELMy advice would be to learn how to hold your ground, but to remain professional. Be respectful, but let them know that you won’t tolerate it.

LATINITASWhat is your advice for Latinas who want to pursue this career field?

RR: It can be discouraging for many and it’s a hard time for all journalists right now, but as a woman of color you feel it more, especially if you don’t have the class privilege like others who have a lot of connections and climb up the latter easier because they know someone. My advice would be to make connections with people you admire. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out and message a writer or editor to tell them you love their work. Even if it’s discouraging, your voice and perspective are needed and Latino communities need to be covered. We need writers, editors and even producers to be a voice for the Latino community. It’s not to say every Latino journalist needs to cover social issues, but the perspective of journalist with a Latino background is necessary. Whether they realize it or not they could be inspiring a future journalist out there. It’s absolutely worth it if it’s something you enjoy.

LATINITASWhat are your short term and long term goals?

RAQUEL: I’m still thinking about this. I’m thinking about pursuing a PhD and expanding my research even further, but it’s expensive and time consuming. I wouldn’t be able to have five different jobs like I do now, I’d need a full-time position and it would be hard to have a full-time position at a magazine or publication while getting a PhD.

LATINITASLastly, how did the Latinitas internship help you?

RAQUEL: Latinitas was great because I got to cover what I wanted, you don’t have that opportunity elsewhere. At Latinitas I was able to get more specific and write about what I wanted to write about and was able to build off of what I wrote there. What they’re doing is so great and I’m so grateful, organizations like Latinitas are needed.

If you’re interested in more about Raquel Reichard and her work you can visit her website at

Día De los Muertos

groovy-sugar-skulls-1Are you afraid of spirits?

If you are, don’t be! Día De los Muertos proves that one doesn’t have to scared of spirits. It’s a day of joy and love.  Most importantly,it is a holiday for remembering and honoring those who have passed. It is celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and other areas in South and Central America.

Día De los Muertos is also celebrated in areas of the United States (such as California, Texas) and others in which the Mexican/American heritage exists. Many other countries around the world celebrate similar versions of Day of the Dead as well.  In Europe and Asia they celebrate the holiday according to their beliefs.

The celebrations occur between October 31st and November 2nd. It is said that the spirits of children who have died arrive on October 31st at midnight, and spend an entire day with their families. Adults come the following day, November 2nd, which is the official date for Day of the Dead.

Día De los Muertos is usually celebrated in homes and graveyards. In family homes, people prepare an altar (ofrendas) to honor the spirits with special foods and things that the person enjoyed most in life. In cemeteries, people decorate the graves of their loved ones with flowers, food, picture, drinks and candles. Traditionally, people spend the whole night in the cemetery and make a party out of it: they play music, have a picnic, and talk and drink through the night.

In Mexico, Día De los Muertos is considered to be the most important holiday of the year! Celebrations vary from state to state in Mexico, but they mostly consist of all-night parties to honor their dead.

Here are five top destinations in Mexico that are well-known for their Día de los Muertos observances.

1.  Oaxaca

During Day of the Dead, people can visit colorful marketplaces in nearby villages and witness vigils in a variety of cemeteries and take part in night-time carnival-like parades called comparsas. There are also sand-tapestry competitions and Day of the Dead altars set up throughout town

2. Mixquic

 The streets of this rural town are vibrantly decorated for Día De los Muertos for a march through town. In the parade, a cardboard coffin leads the way to the cemetery where a candle-light vigil takes place.  At the cemetery, the men, women, and children sweep and wash the graves, then cover them with petals of the flowers they carry. Then, they light their candles and they pray.  In midst of the silent night, a spiritual link is created between those alive and their loved ones who have passed away.

3. Merida, Yucatan

Here, families gather to prepare a pibipollo—a special chicken tamale wrapped in banana leaves.  This dish is cooked underground in a pit.  A shared belief in Día De los Muertos is that the spirits consume the food’s essence, and whatever the spirits leave, the families get to eat. There are also festivities in the streets and cemeteries, similar to the ones on Mizquic. Another common belief is that during the Day of the Dead festivities, kids   use a red or black ribbon on their wrist in order to stop spirits from taking them.  Pets are also kept inside the house (and sometimes, tied down) since they are most likely to scare the spirits away.

4. Aguascalientes 

This town celebrates Day of the Dead by holding an annual Festival de las Calaveras (Festival of Skulls) from October 28 to November 2. The festival offers exhibitions of handicrafts, concerts, traditional food and various theater productions. The grand parade of Calaveras along Aguascalientes’ Avenida Madero is a highlight of the festival.  Festival de Las Calaveras originated as a way to preserve the traditions of Day of the Dead. Moreover, it is meant to pay tribute to an Aguascalientes native and painter—Jose Guadalupe Posada.


 5. Chiapa de Corzo

This quiet colonial town is between Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristóbal de las Casas, is renowned for its Día de los Muertos celebration the cemetery is decorated in a lively manner with colorful ribbons, flowers and candles. There is also live music in the cemetery as families sing to their loved ones.

Although this celebration is associated with the dead, it is not portrayed as a gloomy or fearful time, but rather a period of happiness, full of life and fun. It is portrayed as a time to reflect upon one’s life and the meaning and purpose of human existence.

Con Voz Fuerte: Chicana Lit

Mexican-American literature takes on a different voice than other literary genres. Through the Latina author’s points of view, many readers have developed a different view on revolutionary topics, feminism, and what it means to be a Latina. The following five books were written by Chicana feminists, who paved the way and influence many Latina authors, and are highly recommended to read!


1. In the Time Of The Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies is based on a true story about the woes the Dominican Republic faced during the time of the unjust rule of dictator Rafael Trujillo (ruled 1930-1938; 1942-1961). It is a work of fiction that captures the story of 4 young sisters and their journey to free the Dominical Republic and spearhead the revolution.   This group of women is willing to put their lives on the line for a better cause. This is a great read that shows what it means to be a Latina feminist and how stand up for a cause despite being a woman; Alvarez explores the idea of what it means to be a martyr.


2)   What Night Brings by Carla Trujillo


What Night Brings tells the story of an 11-year-old girl living with her family in California during the 1960′s, What Night Brings is a book about a young girl and her battle against her family (particularly her father) and her religion as she struggles to find her identity and her own sense of freedom. Told by the protagonist, this novel shows the life of a young Chicana living in a household of domestic abuse and her struggle to find her freedom despite living with an abusive father and a mother who lives for her husband. The content for this book may be mature for younger readers, but


3) The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros


The House On Mango Street is a narrative of short stories told by tween Esperanza Cordero, a young girl living in the barrio of Chicago. As a shy teen with a love of reading and writing, Esperanza is raised in a traditional, male-dominated society.  Described by many as “a voice for the voiceless,” it teaches its readers about some of the struggles facing Chicanas today (identity, gender roles, sexuality, and physical appearance, to name a few). Through Esperanza’s point of view, the stories focus on Esperanza’s life and the women she meets as she struggles to find a role model.



770924) Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia

Set in the 1930′s to the 1980′s, Garcia’s Dreaming In Cuban  is the story of three generations of women,Celia (grandmother), Lourdes (daughter) and Pilar (granddaughter). The women communicate telephonically, which is a known talent of women in their family, and share the obstacles they face with one another. Celia lives in Cuba during a tough time, while Pilar, having moved to the U.S. from Cuba at two years old, struggles with her cultural identity due to her Cuban roots and her Americanized lifestyle and interests. This is one of Pilar’s main struggles, as well as her less-than-cordial relationship with her mother. By communicating with Celia, Pilar receives help. Dreaming in Cubcan  is a great novel that shows the identity struggles Cuban-American and Cuban women face everyday, while also telling the tale of a family struggling to communicate and be located in different sides of the globe. A novel that discusses family, identity is surely a must-read.

198905) So Far From God by Ana Castillo

So Far from God is a novel with the perfect balance of comedy and tragedy. Reviewed positively by authors like Sandra Cisneros and Gloria Anzaldua as true to the experience of being Chicana, So Far From God is a humorous tragedy about family, love and hardships a mother faces in light of her husband Domingo’s disappearance in a town that believes in the supernatural. This novel is about Sofi and the struggles she faces.  The book is definitely a page-turner, as it shows the sad but strengthening Chicana experience of one woman and her four daughters.


Connecting with Your Culture

With additional contributions from Latinitas Staff

In a country as diverse as the U.S., it can be hard to be comfortable and establish one’s identity or connect with your culture. According to the PEW Research Center, about four decades since the label “Hispanic” was deemed official, 51 percent of Latinos prefer to identify themselves by their or their family’s country of origin, while 24 percent prefer what is called a “pan-ethnic” label in 2012.

Hispanic, Latino/a, Chican@, etc. everyone identifies and struggles with culture differently.

During the 2014 Latinitas Blog-a-thon for Hispanic Heritage Month, Claudia Mendoza shared her experience about identity.

“Throughout my life I have been at a constant limbo between my roots (Mexican) and my birthplace (American).  Struggling to identify myself was never fun and even more so now that I am attending a university.  I grew up speaking Spanglish and when I do so at school I am looked at funny because of it.  People either enjoy it or get annoyed by it.  Now that I am a 20 year old, I now understand what it is to be a Latina.  I have the best of both worlds: the modern American world mixed with the rich Mexican culture… I am extremely proud to be a Latina and I am honored to be a good representation of a Latina breaking barriers,” Medonza said.

When there’s a large presence of different cultures, standards and expectations can be created — both from inner and outer influences. However, there are many ways to connect to one’s own culture, without changing who you are at all.

“I’m overwhelmingly proud to be a part of the Hispanic community. If it weren’t for my culture who would I be? If it weren’t for my mother’s constant mantra of “back in my country we would say…,” I would be a completely different person. My fondest memories are of being in Panama eating my Abuelita’s arroz con leche as she would tell me stories of her childhood. Or dressing up in my Pollera during Festival and walking down the Panamanian streets as everyone would laugh and dance to the music blasting from the surrounding houses.

Memories that are so full of life and happiness are what make me so proud to be a Latina. American festivals just don’t have the same sort of life emanating from the very core of them. An intoxicating pride coming from my relatives and their friends just for being a member of their country. There aren’t any words to describe how amazing it feels to be surrounded by so many people who are celebrating just being alive … Hispanic pride, in my opinion, comes from our victories as a people and our unity,” shared Isabel Meza in her blog.

Showing off your culture can be as easy as blogging about it during Hispanic Heritage Month or talking about it with your friends.

“The most important thing about connecting to your culture is by exposing other people to your culture and making sure the youth in your communities are exposed to it as well,” Rossie Lopez, a recent UTEP (University of Texas-El Paso) graduate said. ”

“[I] connect with my culture by showing pride in my heritage,” Lopez said.

Not sure how to connect with your culture like the ladies in the article? You can start by:

1073060_634345163243344_272352745_o1)  Doing research!

Hit the books outside of class and find out about your roots, traditions, holidays, etc. Learn a little bit more about your ancestors and find out where your culture really comes from and what makes it unique. You don’t need to connect with it right away, but the more you learn the more you can see your family history.

2) Talking to your family!

Culture tends to spread across older generations, so talk to your parents, grandparents and maybe even great grandparents! Chances are they know a lot. Not only will you learn a lot about your culture but you can also gain a better understanding on what kind of cultural/social backgrounds your older family members are coming from. Even if you don’t learn much about your culture, there’s no harm in getting to know your family better. 

2) Joining cultural clubs and organizations!

You’ve done your research and talked to your family. Still want to know more? Join a cultural club or organization at your school. There are after school clubs and organizations that are towards a specific culture group, and are even geared towards a culture group with a specific interest. Check your school’s website or talk to a teacher in order to see what’s available. You might even have the opportunity to start your own, how cool is that? Some middle and high-schools have Ballet Folklorico, Origami and other after-school programs that often involve an activity that comes from a specific culture. There is also usually a historical lesson about that specific culture in relation to the activity as well. If you live in Austin or El Paso, TX, check out Club Latinitas at your nearest public library or, if you’re lucky, there might even be one at your school!


1)  Sharing what you know with others!

When you are ready to connect with your culture,  put up posters of your favorite band, lyric or anything that signifies your culture. If you like it, and it celebrates your culture, don’t be afraid to show it! Wear that t-shirt or hang that poster. Show others you come from a different culture. Most will even embrace it or want to know more if you live in area where your cultural background is not common. You’ll be surprised at the positive feedback you’ll get.

Whether you identify with your culture 100 percent or not at all, ancestry is good historical knowledge, but diversity comes from culture. So even if you don’t identify strongly, that is okay, too. You can be who you want and diversity the culture you identify with and change others perceptions about it.

Q & A with Joyce Giraud

Joyce Giraud may appear to be just another Hollywood beauty queen, but don’t let the cover of this book fool you.

There are many words that you could use to describe the two-time Miss Puerto Rico, Joyce Giraud. The former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star is enthusiastic, articulate, sweet and gorgeous, but most of all: busy. After all, Joyce has many roles to play; she’s a mother, a wife, a philanthropist, an actress and producer. Joyce is currently working on two projects; producing a show premiering this fall on a Latin channel and developing a scripted show that she plans to star in sometime in the future. Luckily, Joyce was happy to answer some questions and give some inspiring words.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

What many people don’t know about Joyce is that she was an early high school and college graduate. By 19, Joyce had earned two degrees from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, one in Social Work and the other in Special Education.

“My mother always encouraged my brother and I to pursue education. She told me I could be a model or do pageants or whatever I wanted, but to study first,” said Joyce, and she did just that. With her education as a back up plan, like her mother suggested, Joyce found herself in the entertainment industry.

While she loves the entertainment industry, she admits it hasn’t always been easy. “Just last year, I had a girl I was on a show with say that I belonged in Miami with all the Latinas instead of LA,” she explains. Joyce was left in great disbelief, as she couldn’t believe she was dealing with racism in this day and age. However, being the optimist that she is, Joyce never lets much, if anything, put her down.

“I stay determined, I don’t let anything hold me back. If anything, I feed off [the negative] to do better things,” confidently adding, “If anyone ever has misconceptions, I often find myself proving them wrong.”

Joyce may have not pursued a career in the field she studied, but that doesn’t stop this Latina from believing in the importance of education, a subject she is passionate about. Education also served as one of the reasons why she started her own pageant, Queen of The Universe.

“[The Pageant] was started to give girls a platform to do amazing things,” she says proudly.

Joyce was inspired to partner with the United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, a charity that builds schools in Africa, after her mother-in-law helped open 500 schools. Having children of her own, Joyce strongly feels that, “No child should be denied the proper tools to succeed.”

It’s a breath of fresh air to speak to someone who has so much pride in being a Latina. Whether she’s on television or over the phone, Joyce speaks proudly about her background, but always remains humble.

Joyce credits “100%” of her success to her Puerto Rican upbringing by her mother, adding “I’m very proud of my background. I’m grateful to my mom because she made me the woman I am. She prepared me for life. [My upbringing] has shaped my values, my morals and outlook on life.”

There’s no denying that Joyce has become a role model for many Latinas; she’s successful, smart and ambitious.

When asked what she aspires for young Latinas, she says, “I want to encourage Latinitas to not give up on their dreams, they must persevere to achieve their goals. Education is the absolute key to a better future and a better generation. Looks fade, but one thing that remains is your brain and what you study.”

Women in Public Health

Being a happy and healthy girl is a goal many of us have, but we don’t always know how to achieve it. Public Health is the study of the health of a population or community, and can be used in many ways to teach members of a community about how they can lead a healthy lifestyle. Here is some advice that you can follow to stay healthy, given by five women at El Paso First Health Plans Inc. who have pursued careers in Public Health-related fields!


Maritza earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor and Chemistry, and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Public Health. She works with pediatricians in the El Paso area to make sure things like vision/hearing screenings and vaccines are given properly. She advises young girls to “be active, I know sometimes it’s easy to get involved with things like Facebook and chatting with friends, but find something you enjoy doing and stay active.” Whether it be dancing, running, or playing your favorite sport, getting active in a way that is enjoyable for you will make it less of a chore, and more of a fun time!

Gilda worked as a Registered Nurse for 11 years, and helped with patient care at a hospital, tending to patient needs for 14 hour shifts at times. “Get plenty of rest, I’ve seen in my kids have a lot of crankiness the next day and in need of a nap when they don’t get rest. Stay hydrated, drink lots of water!” Gilda shares. It’s easy to overlook the basic needs of our body, but doing so can affect our ability to perform well throughout our daily routines.

Crystal studied Public Health at the New Mexico State University. She started out her career as a middle school and high school teacher, and now works with children who live with chronic diseases, like asthma and diabetes. She works to educate children on how to manage and take care of themselves, and wants to help these kids to live healthy lives even with chronic diseases. “Find balance, in physical activity, food, talking with friends. Being healthy is also physical, mental, and social. Teach yourself, the more you know the healthier you can be,” Crystal advises. Learning about wellness in all aspects will help you be healthier all-around!

Adriana is the Outreach and Marketing Manager at El Paso First Health Insurance. She says, “Don’t give up. Maybe you aren’t made to be in a sports team, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be active; you can race, exercise, or follow a fitness video. In learning to eat healthy, don’t give up at it, you learn as you go. Just remember that our body is our temple, we need to take care of it.” Changing to a healthy lifestyle isn’t always easy and takes some trial and error, but every effort counts in working to keep our bodies well.

Michelle studied Health Education at the University of Texas at El Paso, and minored in community health. She works in public outreach for health needs, specifically in the area of prevention, combining her early love for the medical and education professions. She urges to all young girls, “Love yourself. If you love yourself and what you were given by nature, for all the great things and not so great things, you will be so much happier. Then you will want to take care of yourself and stay healthy because you love your body and want it to be well.”

Advice like this from those who have careers specialized in keeping communities healthy, and guidance from yearly check-ups with your doctor, are great ways to help steer you in the right direction towards a healthy lifestyle! If the health of a community and helping guide others towards healthy living is something that sparks your interest, pursuing a career in the Public Health field may be something for you to explore, just like these women did.

Mentally Preparing for College

college chica

High school graduates are spending this summer as a mentally and physically preparing to transfer to college, either in-state or out of state. Using’s ”6 tips to Get You Mentally Prepared for College” as a guide, we came up with advice on our with the experience of Kimberly Carmona to share her advice on how to mentally prepare for college.

Two of the major tips were to”be open” and to be ready for something new. A couple of things you have to remember is that some colleges are much bigger and much more diverse than a single high school. Therefore, there won’t be a vast majority of people who act a certain way, or are only interested in certain things. Be prepared to meet and interact with people from different cultures, different personalities, and different lifestyles. It’s important to have an open mind instead of pre-determined thoughts on what everyone will be like. You’re going to meet some awesome people in college, but not everyone will be your BFF and vice versa — not everyone in college is standoffish. Don’t judge someone or an organization before you get to know them. After all, college is about trying new things and diving into the unknown. Therefore, having an open mind about it is key to relieve stress.

“I always wanted to go to a college far away from home so coming to UT [University of Texas at Austin] made me happy,” UT senior, Kimberly Carmona said.

While college is an exciting time for personal growth, college is also a time for academic growth. Often people with anxiety about college don’t take into consideration the academic anxiety of being a college student. While this is definitely not something to fret about over the summer, as it is something you learn to cope with through experience, it is still something to be aware of. In college you are going to have to study a lot and will need to complete more work than in high school, so the more mentally prepared you are the better. As a college student, you will meet professors with different work ethics and work load.

“I was under the assumption that I did not have to study until I failed my first exam,” Carmona said.

College is a time to get serious about your studies, which means you need to take the time to study seriously. While some may have already learned this in the high school, some students think college is all about having fun! You’re going to have fun, meet new people, make new friends friends, and learn more about yourself as a student and person, but you have to be prepared to take your academic responsibilities seriously.

In most college courses, there are no re-takes, submitting of corrections, or “late passes” for arriving to an exam late. Therefore, it’s important to do your best on the first attempt at schoolwork; you eliminate the stress of worrying about your final grade if you do well from the start.

“Failing that exam made me realize that I actually have to sit down and study weeks before an exam,” Carmona said.

From exams to homework, it is far better to study and try your best from the start instead of mid-semester.

“That exam mentally prepared me to study before any exam and that I had to work hard to stay here,” Carmona said.

Overall, take time out of your schedule for your homework. If you’re busy in the evening then do your homework during the day. If you only have time to work on homework at night, then make sure the assignment is not too lengthy and get some brain food to keep you alert at night while doing your schoolwork. In the end, never forget about yourself. Studying 24/7 without caring about your mind and body will impact you, so relax. College is a learning experience, so take it a day at a time.

While college is a big deal and large turning point in life, it is not something that requires “training” for the entire 3 months of your summer vacation. Just like most anxiety, it’s all in your head! Just remember to keep an open mind and embrace new things. And the best way to clear your mind is to do things that keep you relaxed and in a positive mood during this time right before heading to college.

Middle School Survival Guide

Starting middle school can be an exciting time, but also comes with a lot of uncertainty. Handling everything middle school throws at you is rough, but not impossible! Here are a few tips to help with surviving middle school when times get tough:

Steering Clear of Drama

Middle school can bring a lot of drama between friends and other not-so-friendly classmates. While it can be easy to fall into the drama, it’s better to try your best to just stay away from it!  Gladys, 16, advises, “Staying out of drama is the best thing to know [in order] to survive middle school. Try to find who your true friends are in order to avoid gossip and rumors.” Finding a group of friends you can trust and who don’t bring constant drama into your life, and making sure you aren’t adding to the spread of gossip and rumors, will make your middle school years much smoother and more enjoyable!


Surround Yourself with Good Friends

Switching to different class periods throughout the day in middle school means constantly being mixed around with different people. All these new faces can be scary, but Hope, 14, suggests, “A way to survive middle school is to make at least one friend on the first day of school, after that make friends with one teacher. If you make an enemy try your best to stay away from [him/her].” Making the effort to be friendly to your classmates and teachers, and staying away from those who aren’t so nice to you, can help you create a supportive and happy group of friends to surround yourself by.

Getting Caught Up in the Social Life

While middle school is a time to make new friends and have fun, it’s easy to get caught up in the social life of school. Just remember that the social scene is not everything! Middle school can also be a great time to learn and grow in the classroom, and to  find things that interest you! Cristina, 16, says  her “…tips to survive middle school are to follow your heart and to not get carried away by the bad. Just work hard, get god grades and make memories.” Keeping a balance between school and friends is something that will help you now, in high school, and even college!

Staying True to YOU

This is a time when everyone is growing up and finding their way, and many students come across things that may not be healthy or feel right to them. Going with what you believe is the path for you can sometimes be against what most other classmates think is “cool.” Peer pressure can sometimes make students do what they feel isn’t the best road to take. Justine, 15, says, “during your middle school years, you are going to be introduced to new things that are good and bad. You get to realize who your true friends are; just stay focused on getting through those rough years and stay true to what you know and believe in.” Staying true to your heart and what you think is right, despite what all the others are doing, will help you be happier with yourself and your choices.

Middle school is a fantastic time to learn more about yourself, so be adventurous, take an elective in something you’ve always wanted to try, join a sport, and find what interests you! The challenges of middle school life will be there, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to handle them and be successful while doing it. Use these tips, advice from family and peers, and your heart to guide you along the way, and enjoy these wonderful middle school years!

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