Inspiring Latina | Jelisa


What does being a Latina mean to you?:

Being Latina for me means living loud, loving, extravagantly and owning what makes me uniquely me. None of us look the same, sound the same, but we are connected by our music, and the similarities in our culture. Being Latina means that I live in the light of my ancestors while forging a new way.

We are strong, resilient, and beautiful!

Share your movement, business, non-profit, dream, with us:

I’m currently in grad school (almost finished) for my masters degree in social work. I learned long ago that I am an encourager - I love and love to see people succeed. I love stories. As a social worker I listen to so many heartbreaking stories and I get to see how resilient people are. How in spite of heartbreak and loss, they can move forward and build a life that means something. I’m hoping to launch a project soon that joins all different types of women together. Recognizing that the power of our stories makes us Brave. Whether our steps of bravery are large or small, our bravery gives others permission to unlock theirs. So soon there will be a Brave Ones movement.

What inspired you to start your movement, businss, non-profit, dream, etc.:

I’ve worked in the non profit sector since I was a teenager. Seeing people at their worst, absolutely broken, with seemingly no hope — I realized how important having an ally is. How important listening to someone’s story is. How important telling your own story is. Over the years I have shared my story of loss and heartbreak. My struggle with faith and realizing that God is the ultimate story teller. I’ve seen so many (women) identify with parts of my story and I’ve seen them open up about their own. The heart behind Brave Ones is that we are all on a journey of bravery and it looks different for all of us but this life requires us to be brave - inspite is so many things. The hope is that when we discover our identity and get around people who encourage us we can walk more freely in who we are. We all have purpose but so many of us lack a REAL community where encouragement is constant.

What are some preconceived notions/stereotypes that you've faced in your business, movement, non-profit, etc?:

Being a woman is difficult in a lot of sectors. Being a Latina can be even more difficult. I see the stares and experience the microagressions in class when I’m the only Latina in my graduate level course. I constantly have to change or decide how to dress or wear my hair. There was a time when I would only wear my hair straight to meetings because it felt more professional. I’ve had men talk over or completely shut me out of a meeting where I was the expert in the room or when discussing my clients. It’s difficult sometimes having to remind yourself - I’ve worked hard to get here. I deserve to be here. My opinion matters.

Who are some of your Latinx inspirations?:

Gina Rodriguez, Sandra Cisneros, Rita moreno, my maternal grandmother Maria Alvear Perez, my paternal grandmother Rosa Mercado, my mother Digna Maria Mercado.