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  • Writer's pictureMarisol Rivera Esquivias

Andrea Suárez: Overcoming fear with community and legacy

Have you ever felt out of place? Or unsupported trying to adjust to something new? For Andrea Suárez, this was her reality until she had the opportunity to be a member of the Latin American Alliance as Señorita Hispanidad.

miembros de LAA con Andrea Suarez en su coronación
Andrea and members of Latin American Alliance at the coronation event and dance at the Eden Resort & Suites, August 2021. Photo by Sollivan Photography

Better known to her loved ones as Andy, she sat in her purple-walled bedroom during our Zoom interview. A color that conveys sensitivity and delicacy. Being at home reaffirmed her dedication to her family. Every time she answered a question, she smiled from cheek to cheek. Automatically, I felt her light and love for others. She explained that it wasn't always like this. She struggled a lot to assimilate into the United States.

Andrea works with her family business, Chilangos, during the Festival Latinoamericano 2021. Photo by Sollivan Photography

Andrea was born in Mexico City, 23 years ago. She graduated from a technical high school, and continued her studies at the Universidad del Valle de México. There she studied chemical engineering. In June 2016, her life changed drastically. She moved to the United States. A country where she appreciates security. When I asked her what she missed most about Mexico, she was quick to reply without hesitation, “Mexican food and traditions like the Day of the Dead and the Day of the Three Kings are not celebrated here.” However, she added that the hardest part was leaving her family and then improving her English.

The main fear I had was being rejected by people. She told me “I thought I wasn't going to be able to include myself in a social circle because I didn't know English. I have learned to develop my abilities and overcome that fear.” Considering if she could, she removed that barrier with the help of a community.

Andrea welcomes the crowd at the Festival Latinoamericano 2021 in New Holland. Photo by Sollivan Photography

And four years ago, that's how she got involved with the Latin American Alliance. Jaime Zabala was enjoying Andrea's family restaurant, Chilangos Mexican Restaurant. He explained to her the importance and vision of the Señorita Hispanidad program and invited her to participate.

The Señorita Hispanidad event takes place every year. The mission is to empower young Hispanic women in their professional or academic careers. Señorita Hispanidad represents and inspires the Latina community in Lancaster County. In August 2021, Andrea was crowned Señorita Hispanidad. It is a blessing for her to be able to represent her beloved Mexico and learn from the different cultures in Latin America. On the day of the coronation, she had to appear in front of many people, and her fear returned. At the same time, she felt very nervous and happy.

The coronation of Señorita Hispanidad Andrea Suárez. Photo by Sollivan Photography

By being able to connect more with the Latino community in Lancaster, Andrea has been able to develop. She confesses that “being part of the Latin American Alliance has given me the opportunity to work with young people and people from different backgrounds. This organization helped me feel part of a known community.” Living in the United States was never going to be the same as life in Mexico, but now at least she has a way to recreate her customs with people she loves.

The confidence and courage that comes with being Señorita Hispanidad, and part of the Latin American Alliance, has pushed her to continue dreaming bigger. Being able to reconnect with her roots and be supported helped her continue her studies at Millersville University, with a focus on business administration. With that degree, Andrea plans to continue investing in her family's restaurant. In ten years, she envisions herself living in Los Angeles, California with her own restaurant business.

Andrea speaks with students at Lancaster Friends School. Photo by Anne Stachura

Determined to inspire other Hispanic girls, Andrea teaches us that with patience and effort the impossible is possible. To conclude, I asked Andrea to give some advice to all who admire her, “Mainly, don't let yourself be carried away by your fears, for me fear is something that prevents you from doing many things, so when you are afraid and don't have the support from someone else prevents you from moving forward with your dreams. Put fears aside, because we only have one life, learn to know how to take advantage of it without fear.”

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