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Month after month, I am so proud to show off the next powerful, strong, and influential woman on my blog. But this month is extra special for me because Mrs. S is my beautiful, gifted, brilliant, and incredibly loving sister. She didn’t include this fact in her interview (because she is extremely humble), but I want to take this moment to brag on her and share that I had the honor of watching her receive of Teacher of the Year last year! I could not think of anyone more deserving and I couldn’t be more proud to call her my sister and my friend!
I also want to point out that Mrs. S. is the teacher our VIP Group rallied behind last year at Christmas. Mrs. S and a few of her co-workers raised money to purchase gifts for their ESL students. For many of these students, this gift was the only one they received for Christmas. Your generosity brought so much joy to the children and Mrs. S cannot thank you enough. 
Prepare to be moved as she shares about her work as a teacher for English as a Second Language children and family advocate. 
How would you describe what you do for a living?

I am an educator. I currently work as an ESL specialist in a low-income elementary school where I teach English to kids from other languages, cultures, and countries. I get to help kids and their families feel safe, comforted, welcomed, protected, cared for, and loved. I get to help be a mediator for them by translating between Spanish and English.

How did you get started in your profession?
Before I started my professional teaching career, I volunteer taught ESL to adults. The first time I stood before my students, I felt an overwhelming, almost tangible joy and peace, and I heard myself say, “THIS right here is what I was created to do with my life.” That moment confirmed that God was calling me to become a teacher.
What challenges did you face along the way, and what did you do to overcome them?
Since my undergrad degree was not in education, I had to go back to school to get more training. I went to UCO to get a Master’s in Bilingual Education/Teaching English as a Second Language. I met the most incredible people from other cultures who inspired me with their stories of how they overcame things of their past. Another challenge I faced was putting my book knowledge to practice when I got into the classroom. I have been so blessed by my amazing family, mentors, teachers, friends, and fellow educators to encourage me, believe in me, be listening ears and shoulders to cry on, and who taught me how to teach my students. I could not have done it alone.

What motivates you to keep showing up for the people you serve?

God has given me the gift of unconditional love for others as the driving force behind this calling, and He has equipped me for this adventurous journey through important people and inspirational moments in my life. I show up every day because I LOVE what I do, and I know my students and coworkers are counting on me to be there. My love for these kids who have been through so much in their lives drives me to be there for them, to be their cheerleader who constantly reminds them that they are worth fighting for. At the end of the day, as long as they know I love them, I know I have done my best.

What advice would you give to women who are just starting out going after their dreams?

Surround yourself with others who will build you up, not tear you down; give you truthful feedback, but not steal your joy; experts in your field who will mentor you with a genuine desire to see you succeed, not tower over you and see you as a threat. Find those unwavering people who have your best interest at heart, and never try to chase your dreams alone.

What does it mean to you to be seen as a strong woman?

I feel honored and humbled. I do not always feel strong, but at the core of my being, I have the joy of the Lord as my strength. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be who I am without Him. No matter what I do or say, my constant prayer is that people will see the strength of God’s unconditional love alive inside of me.

Why you do think it’s important for women to embrace themselves where they are right now?

This world has and continues to present so many fake people and images to us that we can become consumed with truly UNFAIR comparisons between those and ourselves. It is a miserable life trying to compare ourselves to others, and we are often blinded by perceptions and false ideas. Even if someone seems to have their lives put together by what they portray on social media or when they talk to you, you NEVER fully know what is going on inside their hearts, minds, and souls. What I have learned in experiencing other cultures is that everyone finds different things “most beautiful.” It can be exhausting trying to figure out what to change about yourself to live up to someone else’s standards. Therefore, why waste your life trying to exhaustingly please someone else? Be who YOU are, not who someone else wants you to be. Be genuinely and uniquely YOU. You were uniquely created. You have special gifts and abilities. You have lived a life full of stories that have shaped who you are. You are an overcomer. You are alive for a reason. For most of my life, I have been confident in the woman I am on the inside, but I am continuing to learn to love who I am on the outside. The fact is, I am a curvy girl. I have ALWAYS been a curvy girl from birth. Haha! With my stocky build, I will never be “skinny,” and you know what, I am becoming okay with that. 😀 Embracing who YOU are inspires other women to do the same. I know I have been inspired by the fierce women of all shapes and sizes I have seen featured through Red Stiletto Beauty. We have to continue encouraging each other and coming together to help each other live our best lives, ones filled with freedom, strength, joy, peace, and love.

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