My name is Sandra Figueroa. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I was born there at the center of the island. I always say people ask me why I look the way I look, and I said, “We are a mix of races.” So, if you look [at] my dad, my dad is totally Caribbean Indian, and if you look [at] my mom, she’s kind of a mix between a black woman with some Spaniel uh like from Spain features. So, I always say I’m the whole Caribbean package. My family came from a very humble beginnings. Uh my dad was a very humble Puerto Rican guy, and my mom uh had me when she was sixteen. When you are Puerto Rican and you [are] coming from the Latino culture, uh you grow up with so many cousins and tias and tios and people around you and the food and the trips to the beach and trips to the river, and it was just an amazing experience. I used to have a bunch of uh cousins to play with. Uh birthday parties - hello when you’re Puerto Rican you celebrate even your, I don't know, even the furniture at birthday parties, so you have something to celebrate. So, my childhood as in Puerto Rican kid was...was great. We didn't have much, but now that I'm in my forties, I see the value. I see that little thing, that little moment shaped me and made me who I am right now.
So, my grandma made us very strong, especially with me and some of my cousins. Uh in the case of my grandfather, he was the only person that we used to see reading, so going to my papa’s uh room, it was a shelf full of books. From both of them, they were huge factor in my life. Uh the books help you to understand history, life, and be more successful when you choose to be more educated. And with my grandma because she made a stronger, and nothing was, and she always use examples of, “You know that some - out there is somebody worse than you, so why are you crying for a simple thing.” They helped me to see life different.
When I came here and I see...I see I just look around, and I start doing [a] volunteer job to uh know my community. That's when I realized I want to make the difference. I...I want to know the community, and I remember that point I said, “I want to go back to school, and I want to be an educator for my community.” What I do as a professional Latina woman is - it fills me. It makes me feel like this is what I like to do. Um it's - part of what I do is education, community education, and it's a pleasure and it's something that when I do it, it makes me feel good about it. I struggled with the second language a lot, um and at one point in my life, I thought that I wouldn't do it. I was like I just, maybe it's going to be difficult for me, and now I would tell myself that nothing is impossible. The opportunities are out there each of us. It’s up to us to take advantage of it.