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My grandmother has been an inspiration to me ever since I can remember. My earliest and fondest memories include her cooking me traditional Ecuadorian dishes and caring for me when my parents needed a helping hand. I would always beg my mother to allow me to sleep over her house because it was like a second home to me. Until this day, the feelings of love, warmth, and comfort I feel visiting my grandmother’s house are unlike any other. But it was not always sunshine and rainbows. My family’s journey to the United States from Ecuador starts with one brave soul by the name of Fanny Moran, my abuelita.

Even before making her way to Ecuador’s second biggest city, Guayaquil, Fanny Moran grew up in a poor village called Milagro where she was one of twelve children. At the age of 16, she packed her bags and moved to the city where she would hold various jobs to support herself including working as a maid, seamstress, caregiver, and nurse. After meeting the love of her life, marrying, and having children, she immigrated to the United States in the early 1990s to help support her family back home in Ecuador. She left her husband, children, and entire support system in hopes of finding a better life in the Americas and one day bringing them. Eventually, with the help of friends and family, she was able to do so, and that’s where I come in. I am forever grateful to my grandmother for making the sacrifices needed to provide better opportunities for her and her family. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Along with giving me every ounce of love in her, I would always watch my abuela track records of her accounts for her business. As a curious child, I asked her, “what are you doing?” She would say, “Taking care of my business.” This business that she spoke of was the Ecuadorian restaurant in our town that everyone loved and praised. From the very start, she inspired me to take matters into my own hands; if I wanted something, I should work towards it just like she worked towards the success of her restaurant. After she decided to sell her restaurant, my grandmother decided to venture out into real estate and thrived in that field as well.

Every time she tells me her story, I get inspired all over again. I always have her voice in the back of my mind when I am facing difficulties. “Keep going. The only person stopping you is yourself.” And then, I think to myself, “If she can do it, I can do it.” I always just imagine the hardships she faced––everything from leaving home at an early age to immigrating to a new country where she was unfamiliar with the culture, language, etc. With all her struggles and hardships, I believe they made her the strong woman she is today and the matriarch of our family.

“Keep going. The only person stopping you is yourself.”

Not only has she always been a caring and motherly figure in my life, she remains a lifetime inspiration to me as a businesswoman and entrepreneur. When people ask me what I want to be when I grow up (yes, I know I am 20 already), I will always say “a business woman like my abuela”.

Gigi Oyola is a junior at the George Washington University studying International Economics and Business. She is a member of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, Association of Latino Professionals for America, Women in Business, First Generation United, and Red Cross. Besides her love for numbers and creative writing, Gigi enjoys adventuring to new sites, finding the best coffee shops, and making fun Tik Toks.
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