Updated: Jun 24, 2020
I am one of nine siblings, grew up in Mexico City, mother left her own “comfortable” life with friends and family to keep us safe and give us an opportunity for a different life. She became a single mother with no formal education. She and the older siblings struggled to provide the essentials such as a roof over our heads and food on the table. I was 5 years old when we moved from the province to the city. The changes and challenges were definitely attenuated by the love and shelter that family structure provided to the chaotic new lifestyle.
My family moved to Mexico City, an overpopulated city to say the least. Mother and her kids were not very welcomed at many rental places; fair housing rules are not as established there as in the States. I remember having to move often from rental to rental every so often. Each kid was allowed to have one storage box where we were to fit all of our belongings (school uniforms, toys, books, clothing, and our bedding). That was because in a given notice we might have to move to pack our box and move to our next “home”. I think I attended at least five different schools during middle school and I remember walking an hour to get to one of those schools.
After completing middle school, I was forced to move to a different city and leave my family behind to continue school. High school in Mexico is not free, to my mother, it was unaffordable to pay for my education. With the help of an aunt and good grades, I earned my way into high school. We had to make a choice, end education or attend high school in yet another entirely new city without the rest of my family. I knew early in life that all I had in my favor was my way of thinking, perseverance and self motivation. In my heart, I knew I needed to make my mom proud. I was granted a scholarship to attend high school while working as a nanny to supplement expenses. After high school, my good grades and hard work earned me a scholarship to college. I graduated with a business degree. More importantly, I had the proudest mother in the whole world. I knew I had broken a lifestyle cycle and a societal statistic. I was the first family member to attend college and earn a college degree.
As I mentioned before, my mom had no formal education, she was a self trained midwife (partera). She delivered countless babies as she served the community. Many of those families had no other option to get healthcare services and most of the time she took whatever they could afford to give her in return for her services. Even though she never got the opportunity to attend school, she was the most intelligent , kind, and given person that I know. She gave us the seeds of love, desire, perseverance, and resilience. Her “seeds” provided the foundation for my attitude to see no challenge capable of blocking my path to a goal, but an opportunity for strength and growth.
After graduating from college and working in an executive setting, I saw the possibility for a different lifestyle as my desire and curiosity for a different lifestyle grew stronger. Especially when I told my boss that someday I would like to visit the United States, attend an American University, and become fluent in English just as he was. He said, “I doubt you can do that.” I worked in the business setting for five years and ventured to start my own business. This resulted in a loss of savings and put a dent on my entrepreneurial ego. Without knowing it, it also earned me a valuable lesson (falling is not the hardest part, getting up and trying it again is).
At age 23 I arrived in the United States, not knowing anyone, with $100.00 to my name, speaking little to no English and an education obsolete the second I landed in the country of opportunities. With a heart full of relentless perseverance and a mind full of dreams, I started my journey. As an adult immigrant many challenges lie ahead most natives would take for granted. The different culture, the exaggerated food flavors, the societal defined rules/liberties, and the inability to communicate was all a shock. Even though these might be seen as challenges to many others, to me they were a chance for new experiences and opportunities to better myself.
If I was on my way up to the top of the mountain by climbing the corporate ladder in my native country of Mexico, it felt as though someone kicked the ladder from under my feet when I landed in America. However, this was no time for questioning my decisions. Staying in bed, crying it out and taking a step back was not an option for me. I was curious and hungry to explore this new world of opportunities. My first priority was to learn the language; what better way than head back to school? Little did I know, my degree in Mexico had to be “validated” in the United States, which would take some time and money (both of which I lacked) so just as quickly have to improvise and adapt my plans.
However, that did not stop me, I simply found other paths and opportunities. I started attending English as a Second Language classes and challenged the GED (General Education Diploma). After that, I was eligible to enroll in college classes (yes, an american college!! cool right!!) My first semester in college I enrolled in Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Psychology and Statistics (all prerequisites for a Nursing degree). I attended Nursing School Monday through Thursday with classroom and clinical practice. On Friday evenings, I worked and weekends I worked long shifts that started early morning and ended late at night. Week after week, I did that until graduation. Graduation was upon me! Unfortunately my family was unable to attend, however, I knew they were celebrating with me in spirit! Now I had my degree and I was ready to set forth my path in America!
As a professional, my goal was to be as prepared as possible and earn the highest degree of education. I soon learned of the many paths nursing had to offer and the schooling that came with it. I worked in the Intensive Care Unit as I continued my education and completed advanced training to become an anesthesia provider. Following my goal of achieving the highest educational level and dream of making mom proud, I attended Anesthesia School. I earned a Master’s degree and a Doctorate degree (my fifth degree). I broke many other statistics such as minority college graduate, advanced nurse practice education, doctorate prepared CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist). My mom was able to celebrate the graduation of the inaugural Baylor College of Medicine Doctorate Class of Doctorate Prepared CRNA graduates right next to me…. in spirit. She passed a couple of months before graduation, but I knew she was there to see me walk that stage! I know that wherever she was she had a smile on her face and will forever be a proud mom.
I achieved the highest educational level for the profession I chose. What could be the next challenge? While in Grad School, someone mentioned military medicine. So, in 2003, I joined the Military and was commissioned as a Naval Officer. My top clinical education was not enough for the military, I needed to learn the new role as an Officer. Everyone’s opinion may be different, but I believe one of the disadvantages of joining the military with an education and a profession is you are assigned a rank to reflect your level of experience. Each rank comes with certain responsibilities and expectations that no civilian training can prepare you for. I began my next challenge, to become a military officer, a leader, and a mentor to junior shipmates and to become a mentee of my seniors (not just in rank, but in years of military experience regardless of their rank). I faced it with the same curiosity, relentless perseverance and desire to serve others as my previous life challenges. I then broke yet another statistic! I became part of the 1%; the 1% of Americans that serve in the military. I was thrilled and honored to become part of such an elite family!
As an anesthesia provider I often have only a couple of minutes to earn my patients’ trust, to provide them with comfort during vulnerable and scary times in their lives. I have had the honor of providing those services to fellow military members around the United States, overseas, and patients in many Central American Countries while volunteering on medical missions (another of my big passions). I love my profession as it allows me to serve others and often reminds me how brittle life can be. Life in the surgical room is like an orchestra, everyone plays an important role in the show and everyone's contribution is valuable to the end result. I truly enjoy contributing to the surgical teams I have worked with. As a traveler anesthesia provider, I have been blessed to meet amazing healthcare workers at every place I have practice and make some really good friends.
As a side gig, I have been in the Real Estate business part time for over 15 years. When I first saw the opportunity to invest in Real Estate, it was partly because of the desire to provide housing to families and also because it feed my entrepreneurial spirit. When I was given the keys to the first property I purchased (a duplex right across a middle school) I thought, a kid can attend their entire middle school without having to move once. They will have the stability of a safe, clean and close to school place to live.
The desire to multiply that feeling of providing and serving others with such essential necessity has been the driving force behind pursuing growing the real estate business. I name the business Up Plex Living to imply the concepts of living and bringing people up, up lifting, up Living, living it up! My husband and I are committed to provide housing needs to individuals and families as we manage our rental portfolio.
Everyone has a story, a past, a present and a future. Life happens to all of us and we might not have a saying on what happens to us or what obstacles we are to endure. But at some point in our lives, whether it is immediately or years after (as an adult) we have the choice to decide how we respond to those events. It is not what happens to us who makes who we are today, it is how we choose to respond to what happened to us that makes who we are today. Most of us have little to no choice on what happens to us especially at an early age. Either way, we still have the great freedom of choosing how we respond and use those challenges as opportunities to discover the best version of YOU!
What I share here is my story and the habits, strategies, tips and techniques that I have used successfully to break statistics, overcome challenges, and thrive in my personal and professional life. I can only motivate you so much, but that alone won’t be sufficient. So, I encourage you to take the seeds of success that I share here, plant them, and nourish them so you can also become the best version of yourself. Define your “why”, find what drives you, make your challenges an opportunity to become stronger, let your dreams show you the path, most importantly own your responses and take action. I will give you the recipe to achieve a fulfilling life, financial independence and happiness, it works, it worked for me, it can work for you. All you need to do is to take action! Start NOW, you owe it to yourself!