Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: Carla María Cadena Ríos
By Robin Loving
I once was advised by a professor to be a person on whom nothing was wasted. I have just met a young person who is a living example of this philosophy. She is Carla María Cadena Ríos, a Jóvenes Adelante scholarship student studying business administration. “Carla makes the most of everything she is given,” said her English tutor Karina Hamburger. “She is at the top of her class at the Universidad Autónoma de Querétaro. This girl means business!” she continued.
Carla’s mother is a housekeeper. Her father is a tailor for expats at Sastrería Cadena in Colonia San Antonio. Both incomes are variable. They live frugally, carefully making the most of every peso. Carla contributes. “I’ve worked as a dog walker, a florist, a housekeeper, and in administration. My dream would be to have an enterprise something like Via Orgánica, so I am working on my entrepreneurial skills. I have a business selling snacks at school, and I make bracelets that my relatives sell on commission,” she continued.
Carla’s most rewarding work has been a university group project developing a new organizational plan and guidance manual for an existing business. This included creation of vision and mission statements, reworking the company structure, and the delineation of position responsibilities.
Carla’s mother and father worked rather than attending high school. They made the dangerous border crossing to earn money. Carla’s mother took her children to English classes five days a week when they were little. These parents say to their children, “We have done these things so that you will not have to do what we have done. When you cross the border, it will be with papers in hand, for vacation or to study.”
“My mother is my hero,” said Carla. “When she was 15, she left her home in the campo and came alone to San Miguel. Her friends and neighbors criticized her choice, believing that she would fail or come to harm. But they underestimated her strength of character. She was ready to work hard and succeed. I often think of my mother’s strength and bravery. Her choices and her beautiful example have made my opportunities possible,” she continued.
As a result, Carla and her 15-year-old brother Carlos, who is highly successful in statewide competitions in math and physics, are achieving their goals. And, Carla said, “University wouldn’t be possible without Jóvenes Adelante. Big hugs to my JA mentor Paula McGuire and my English tutor Karina Hamburger,” she concluded.
At our interview’s end, Carla and her family departed for Valle del Maíz to say prayers of gratitude to the Holy Cross. They light candles for help to stay on the path to their best future.
Jóvenes Adelante grants scholarships to local honors students who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend university. Scholarships include financial aid, a laptop, a mentor, counseling, English tutoring, life skills, and a graduate network. To explore becoming involved, please see JovenesAdelante.org and/or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415 112 3413.