I was born in the Dominican Republic. In 1978, my mother put me on a plane to New York City to live with my father. I did not want to go and certainly did not want to leave her. My mother insisted, even though it meant we would be apart. She had plans of a bright future for me, where I would be set on a path to pursue the American Dream.
I arrived in the middle of winter, with no coat, and only a few items in a small suitcase. I spoke no English at the time. My story may seem incredible, but my story is the same story as millions of other immigrants who came to America, the land of opportunity and freedom.
In 1993, I became a naturalized U.S. citizen. At that time, I was a single mother, personally experiencing the challenges of being a working mother and student, while navigating the early childhood education system with my young son.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology at Harpur College at the State University of New York at Binghamton and a Master of Arts degree in Student Personnel Administration at the prestigious Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. Following graduation, I worked as a student advisor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and as a staff member of the Albert G. Oliver Foundation, identifying academically gifted minority students, placing them in top independent schools in the Northeast. I also served in NY City as a counselor at an underground domestic violence shelter and as a foster care case worker.
In 1996, I enlisted in the United States Army and came to Fayetteville and Ft. Bragg. I served for over seven years as a human intel collector/interrogator in the special operations community, mostly conducting counterdrug activities in the Caribbean and South America.
In 2003, I left the Army and married my husband, a fellow soldier. We started a career together in real estate and quickly became an integral part of the community. We enrolled our son in VanStory Elementary, then Max Abbott Middle School; in 2010, he graduated from Terry Sanford High School. Our two young daughters were born in 2006 and 2009 and we enrolled them in preschool and kindergarten at Holy Trinity Preschool and Highland Presbyterian Learning Center.
My husband and I know that effective education is a crucial element in achieving life success. We chose to homeschool our daughters after kindergarten. We wanted to expand their educational opportunities beyond the traditional curriculum and instill in them our family values. At our home in Stedman, a small eight-acre farm, we grow some of our own food and raise our daughters in traditional ways. In addition to the girls’ rigorous studies in the core subjects of reading, writing, and math, they also learn music, dance, piano, sewing, and animal husbandry, and are active in our church, Faith Builders Christian Center.
Currently, I remain active in our community as a real estate broker and investor. My hope is for our schools and students to flourish by re-emphasizing mastery of the core subjects, strengthening educational opportunities, and listening to, and encouraging greater parental involvement in decision making.
Looking back, I have lived the American Dream. Looking forward, I believe our schools can be the way we propel our children to life success.