Sandra Vargas

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Current State: New York

Occupation and/or Title: Immigration Paralegal

www.etsy.com/shop/lifesamoda

Background: 

I’m a Dominican born in New York. I grew up in Staten Island at a time when we were the only Dominican family in the neighborhood. I’m a mother of two wonderful kids and I love spending time with them. A major setback for me was when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 5 years ago. There are times when parts of my body become numb and very week. I can’t walk or use my arms and sometimes I can’t see. When this happens it lasts for months and I’m lucky to have a great husband and family who support me. They help me during these tough times. But I don’t let my disease hold me back. I continue to live my life and pursue any goals I have. My illness may slow me down sometimes, but it’s not going to stop me from living!

What have been your struggles as a Latina?

Growing up in Staten Island was not fun. I’ve heard every racist joke/insult you can think of for Latinas. I remember my senior year in high school my counselor didn’t think I should apply to any universities cause she said it was going to be too “hard” for me! Can you believe that?? I totally ignored her and applied anyway. Later on when I was working in the corporate world, when my boss learned of my pregnancy ( I was 28 years old by the way) she said, “Well, I’m not surprised,” as she rolled her eyes. I was not married to my husband at the time and that shouldn’t matter. Being a Latina woman comes with a lot of stereotypes.But they’ve never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do, even though I’ve heard and experienced a lot. I am sad, however, that my kids will experience this and our society can’t seem to get over the absurdity of it.

What does Latina Made mean to you?

Latina made just screams “PRIDEFUL’ to me. Taking pride into your own intelligence and ambition while owning your ethnicity sends a powerful message. Latina women are like superwomen. We’re smart, driven, funny, full of culture, and fabulous! I’ve never met a Latina that wished she was something else!

What made you who you are today?

I’m only 40 years old and I hope to have many, many, more years on this planet. However, in those years, I’ve learned that so many different variables in my life made me who I am today. My parents came here from Dominican Republic and accomplished SO much, that it encourages me to reach for the stars. I started working at 14 years old and learned the value of a dollar. I’ve met horrible and amazing people and they’ve all influenced me in some way. I can’t pick one thing that’s made me, but instead every experience I’ve had affects me today. Being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, are probably the best roles I have and I strive to live [my life] with love and understanding.

What advice would you give to young Latinas in our community?

Ignore the noise. There’s a lot of noise in this world that doesn’t make any sense but can negatively influence you and your confidence. Believe in yourself. I know that you can achieve any goal no matter how unreachable it seems to be. Keep yourself on a pedestal and love and respect yourself. Take care of your bodies and always feed your soul.

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