Our interviewee today is a 23-year-old girl, and her name is Jessica Ruiz.
What’s your story? “My story is very long, with many ups and downs despite my young age, but I’ve discovered over the years that all the things that happen to us in life are to move us in the right direction.”
What motivates you to think that? “When I was in high school, I got pregnant with my son. I am a single mother. It was a difficult time for my family. However, I must say that my son was a beloved child from the first moment I knew I was pregnant. I think that as he grew inside me, he gave me a lot of strength and maybe that’s why I was not as scared as everyone thought I would be at such an early age and with such a big responsibility. I did not drop out of school, because I had the support of both my family and the grandfather of my son, who has been an angel in our lives. I pray to God that my son will grow up and become an honest, hard-working and willing man that helps everyone, like him.”
What is your profession? “I’m a stylist and I must say I love my job. It is very nice to be able to do something as simple as changing the appearance of a person and raising their self-esteem. It is a profitable profession, if you are organized, responsible and are constantly self-educating. Nowadays, you can educate yourself not only by attending events or taking courses, but you can also find endless tutorials online.”
How do you see yourself in the future? “I see myself opening an academy to teach low-income women so that they can learn a trade that allows them to earn a decent living in a beautiful profession. We all deserve to receive a helping hand.”
I see that you believe in the value of family. “For me, family is very important, I grew up in a family where I was taught the value of work, honesty and to cherish how little or much you have. Since I was a little girl, I learned from my mother, who is an exceptional woman, that happiness is not what we have but what we can share.”
I also notice that you have a beautiful flower tattoo on your arm. “When my son was born. I wanted to tattoo his name to have him in my heart, my thoughts and even physically with me. I want to make clear that I never liked tattoos and never thought that I would have one. Even the person who tattooed my son’s name asked me if I was ready to get more tattoos and I told him it would only be that one. He told me that when you get one you cannot stop, that tattoos become part of your life as you write or draw on your body the moments that you want to remember. He was right because after a trip to Colombia, my country of origin, I received this flower tattoo. Now people remind me of the beautiful tattoo on my arm.”
How did you get here from Colombia? “My grandfather was living here in the USA, when a law came out in which if you worked for an American citizen you could change your immigration status. He did it and then he invited us. When I arrived here, I was only three years old. However, I spent many summers in Colombia so I speak fluent Spanish. From Colombia, I love its aromas, colors, and the joy and enthusiasm of the people. But nothing is perfect and it is a country where, although the rates of violence have decreased over the years, it is still dangerous. Here I feel safe and I know that my son will have better opportunities. I will always be grateful to my grandfather for thinking of us.
What would be your final message be? “Being enthusiastic, working hard, helping others and honesty are all part of the most direct path I know to success.”
María Danniella Gutiérrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before going after her own American Dream and becoming a writer in the United States. mdgutier@gmail.