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VERONICA ALVIDREZ

SE TU, BE LOUD, BE PROUD: Immigrant, First Generation College Student, Proud Latina, and Business Owner

Veronica Alvidrez, a passionate and dedicated educator, and businesses owner, has overcome numerous challenges in her life, including the process of immigrating to America. As a first-generation college student and an immigrant from Mexico, Veronica’s experience adapting to a new culture was far from easy.

 

Veronica and her family decided to leave their home country due to economic hardship. “My dad started a business that was just a bad setup from the beginning, and we had an economic need to earn more money and pay off the loans he had outstanding,” she explained. The family had sought opportunities in America to earn more and become more financially stable.

 

Vividly describing her immigration journey and the immigration process, Veronica said “my dad traveled first, so it was up to my mom to catch up to him with the kids. I remember the grueling process of getting our paperwork submitted and approved. We actually got denied the first time to come into the United States, and my mom had to go back and fight for the right permits. When we arrived, I remember feeling confused and seeing trash everyone because it was the day after the 4th of July. I had no idea about the holiday, and it made me question why my family brought me to this ‘trashy’ city."


Upon arrival, Veronica faced the challenge of not knowing English. She shared, “not knowing English was one of the biggest challenges for me. At nine years old, I already had a sense of who I was, and suddenly, I felt lost. I became more withdrawn and spent a lot of time alone in my room. Additionally, I had to navigate the cultural differences in names. In Mexico, I went by my middle name, but here in the United States, people started calling me by my first name, Lilia. It took time to reconcile the two identities.”



Despite the obstacles of adapting to a new country and culture, Veronica dreamt of pursuing higher education. She worked tirelessly while attending high school, juggling part-time jobs, and studying late into the night. Her determination paid off when she was accepted into the University of Missouri-Kansas City, becoming the first in her family to attend college. However, during her college years, Veronica faced new challenges. She had to learn how to navigate the complexities of financial aid, scholarships, and student loans, all while continuing to support her family. The workload was demanding, but Veronica’s perseverance and passion fueled her drive to succeed. In 2019, Veronica obtained her Bachelor of Business Administration and Management.


After graduating with honors, she embarked on her career as an educator determined to make a difference in the lives of her students. She joined the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools District where she could connect with students from various backgrounds and provide them with the guidance and support, they needed as a Migrant Services Advocate. Veronica’s ability to empathize with her students struggles and multicultural background allowed her to establish strong and meaningful connections.


Now as part of her full-time job, Veronica is an educator for Startland, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting an entrepreneurial mindset and design thinking in the youth development sector. In her role as the Director of Youth and Community Programs, Veronica is responsible for designing programs for young individuals. They are actively exploring the possibility of developing programs for adult learners within the field.

 

Veronica also shared the challenges she faced in maintaining her cultural identity, while adapting to American culture. “I married someone who was more Americanized, and that influenced my adaption to American culture. But I also made sure to maintain my cultural traditions by going back to Mexico and engaging with my family. However, for a while, I did feel lost. I didn’t know the current music or trends in my own country. It took time to confidently own both of my cultural identities.”


“Before [obtaining permanent residency], I was living in fear, flying under the radar. The plan was always to go back home eventually,” said Veronica explaining her legal immigration journey. “I ended up getting married in 2019. When I married my high school sweetheart, I obtained my residency and then citizenship. The process didn’t start until two years into the marriage.”


Being in the Midwest as a Latina, Veronica acknowledged the feeling of isolation. She said, “even though there is a broader community, many of us still feel isolated. We are often the only Latina in our workplaces and the spaces we occupy. So, while the community is present, individuals’ experiences can still feel very isolated.” During the pandemic, a stronger sense of cultural and community isolation became apparent.

 

The frustration with the lack of representation and cultural dilution resulted in her co-founding an apparel lifestyle brand for Latinas. The brand, “paraMi,” aims to provide authentic representation and address the needs of Latina women. In English, paraMi translates to “for me.” Veronica said “we wanted to bring representation through our products and remind women of their multicultural identities.  We believe that by surrounding ourselves with our culture in various aspects of our lives, we can keep it alive and celebrate it authentically.”

 

paraMi’s vision extends beyond being just a brand. The goal is to grow alongside their customers, evolving as the first and second-generation Latina experiences in the United States evolve. With a grand opening of a storefront soon approaching, Veronica also hopes to further launch a presence on college campuses to reach a wider audience. paraMi aims to create a supportive community that champions Latina women in their walk of life by providing representation, comfort, and empowerment.


As Veronica reflects on her journey as an immigrant, first-generation college student, proud Latina, and business owner she tells others to think bigger. Veronica says “we tend to think small when it comes to what we want to do. I’ve been told I dreamed too big and have big dreams, but people should have big dreams. It takes the same amount of effort to play it small or play it big. Play it big and surround yourself with mentors that help you play it big.”

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