The Story of Marianella Omana (with Haley L. Smith)


“Hello, my name is Marianella Omana. The way our culture approaches relatives is, I believe it’s warmer, we are all like a big group that stays together even though we live apart in our own houses. It’s a support system.

I was here just before I decided to come back and live here because I came back to the United States after I graduated from law school and did a Master’s degree and two specializations, but I went back to Venezuela because our purpose as Venezuelans was like that: to be prepared and be good peoples, good professionals for our advantage and for our people’s advantage.

When I first started my recertification here as an attorney in the United States, everybody was like- uhh, even the faculty in the university were like, you know, just follow the instructions for international students, just follow the instructions for international students, meaning like, I probably like I would only need to go for a pass or fail, --- for my grades…I’m not here just for getting this, I’m here because I’m already living here in this country and I want to become a professional- a real professional in this country- not just having a degree on my resume. So, I said no, I uhh, don’t need to be just one number, an international student that came and just went back home. So, I want to do the same things as studying here as a regular student. So, I was different from all my group because I decided to go for grades, not only pass and fail- so, uhm, faculty was sometimes like not believing in me very much because I was trying to, like uhm, challenge them, or I don’t know, I was challenging probably myself. Uhm, but, it was a good experience: it gave me more security that I was at the same level, competing in another language, in another completely different system.


People here made me feel like I had a lot of value for them. There are too many needs here in the Lehigh Valley, in the area, and most people living here need those, need too many things, and we need professionals to help them. We need people here that are prepared- it’s not that they are not good, it’s just that they are missing some things, yes- some guidance, so uhm, I was a valued resource, or a valued human resource, uhm, to help the community because I got the knowledge that they didn’t have in that case. Even my employer always made me aware of that, or reminded myself, uhm, of that value. And that was very good, it made me feel very good that I was doing something good.


We need to be proud of everything that we achieve. Yes, professionally, personally, even in a daily basis- even if it’s, oh my god, I finally cooked this well. Yes, uh, the minimal things. I would like to say be proud of your achievements, no matter how small they are, be proud of them. And, yes, of course, I am proud of both my small and big achievements that I have in my life, yes. Especially my family, as well as all my degrees.


To all Latinas, in the Lehigh Valley, yes, keep working, you have a lot of value, uh, even if you are not in the news because you are a famous person, but you have, you are, umm, you are a successful person in your small life in your family. So, don’t feel never that you are small or that you cannot contribute. We are all contributing- just pursue your dreams, just try to reach your goals.”



The Story of Marianella Omana (with Haley L. Smith)
Haley L. Smith
Marianella Omana
Interview with Marianella Omana, a local attorney and Spanish professor at Cedar Crest College. This interview highlights Omana's Venezuelan culture, her experiences in seeking a higher education in law, and her experience being a resource to other Latina women in the Lehigh Valley. She elaborates on providing other Latina women with support and helping them recognize their value.
CC BY-NC 4.0

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