Meet Melissa Lopez
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Editor's Note: Melissa was referred by her sister Zulay. She said, "I hope you pick her she is an amazing little sister and a great friend! No one else deserves this more!"
Name: Melissa Lopez
Hometown: Bronx, NY
Education: BA in Communications, MBA in Marketing
Profession/Career: Marketing professional spending her "after nine-to-five" teaching fitness and dance classes
Web site: www.funfitchic.net
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you "grew up?"
I wanted to be a Rockette! Actually, I wanted to be a dancer - a ballet dancer, a back-up dancer (specifically Janet Jackson' back-up dancer), or a Broadway dancer. Deep down inside I always knew that I wanted to tap into my creative side.
Where were you born and where did you grow up for the most part of your life?
I was born in the South Bronx and I lived there until I graduated High School and moved into a dorm at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. A completely different world.
What (if any) adversaries or discouragements did you face growing up?
I can't say I had any specific discouragements but I could say that it was difficult growing up around complacency while being a dreamer. I really believed and still do believe that I can do anything I put my mind to. Where I grew up, I always felt like most people accepted things the way they were and whether or not they were okay with it, they never made a change. It was a constant discouragement for most and many times, I felt like giving in but that's not me. I don't accept the status quo and I really do believe that my life and my choices can change the world.
What has been the "proudest" moment in your life"
Purchasing my very own home before 30! I don't make a big deal about many things but this was very personal to me. Having lived in a rental my entire life with my family, it was very important to me to finally own a piece of "the American dream." It's not a big space but its mine and I am so proud of it. I have led many personal firsts in my family, yet this one had a special meaning to me because I was able to save up all the money necessary in a year. I ate rice with no beans and no chicken everyday BUT I did it.
What does being a Latina woman mean to you?
It means strength, love, passion and family. It means breaking down the stereotypes while staying true to your culture. I love being a Latina, I love speaking Spanish with my girlfriends and I love to see the mouths drop when I tell people I am Puerto Rican raised in the South Bronx. You have to carry it with a badge of honor wherever you go.
What advice do you have for today's young Latinas?
I've learned that education takes you very far - beyond the classroom. Continue learning, always be aware of your surroundings and let your intelligence lead the way. Latinos are hard-working. People know us as hustlers and I don't mean it in it's negative connotation. We put our hearts and our pride into our work and when you combine that with intelligence, you will always be a tough act to follow.
What Latina in your life has been a major inspiration and role model?
As a kid, I would have said Rita Moreno! What a woman. I still look up to her very much but as an adult, I have to say my mother. We were fortunate enough to live in a two-parent household but at that time my father worked a lot and my mother held down the home. I know now all the pride she had to put aside to keep things together in our family. She taught us how to care for one another, how to love, and how to be humble. My favorite memory (and it might be quite foggy) was the day my mother arrived back home from a very bad day at work. She cried and told my dad she NEVER wanted to go there again. My father understood and told her that she didn't have to. After that, my mother used her creativity to design pieces of art and then sell them to her friends and their family during all holidays, she babysat children, she did everything she could to hold up her end of the bargain. I see that in myself - the entrepreneurial spirit and the creativity. I've had some rough times during this economy, but I always stayed afloat - I credit that ability to my parents.
What is your favorite quote or saying that you live by in life?
"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much" by Mother Teresa. In trying times, you have to have the faith and belief in yourself and the universe that you will overcome whatever obstacle is placed in front of you and you will be stronger for it.
Name a fellow Latina, in your professional world, that inspires you. Why?
Supreme Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a great inspiration. Like me, she grew up in the South Bronx. She was smart and didn't always fit in. She has had to overcome opposition and stereotypical views in front of an entire nation, and she always did it with grace. I previously worked in government and know first-hand that our nation's governmental institutions are lacking Latinas. She's a trailblazer and a woman of strength and integrity.
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Latinas Inspired by Monique Frausto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.LatinasInspire.com.