I Did Something Bad: Carla's Story

 

 

“Empowerment is being able to take control of your capabilities and innate talents in order to feel more capable and satisfied with yourself. As a result, you’ll be able to show others all the positivity a human being can irradiate.”

- Carla Rivera

 

For a long time, humanity has felt a great power over women, and has sought to dictate how their lives should be carried out by imposing ideas and limits. This behavior is especially present with topics such as choosing when to have a family. Nevertheless, all humans have the freedom of choosing their own timelines according to what makes more sense to their particular situation. Sadly, there’s many that still choose to look down or critique those different to them. That’s why it’s important to highlight the empowering sources of inspiration that we find in our daily lives that have chosen to live the best version of their lives and do it proudly and fully. Today, I want to highlight Carla Rivera, a young woman who is also a mom.

Carla is an undergraduate chemical engineering student from the UPRM. She loves to knit, bake, and is an active participant of several student organizations. But, she is not only an amazing student, she is also a proud mother and wife with a beautiful family. In her free time “the thing [she] loves the most is spending time with her husband and daughter. Having a quality moment with them where she can enjoy from their company is the best thing for her.” She confesses that this makes her feel relaxed, amused, and happy.

After starting her family, her mentality towards school completely changed. For her having a family gave her path a compass. Now she never loses her north and doesn’t only take the classes to solely "pass them". Instead, she developed a “real commitment towards learning and seriously soaking in knowledge.”

It is definitely not an easy task; Carla has to constantly juggle a series of commitments and responsibilities that are no longer only hers. For her every day is limited. Every day there’s priorities she must face and there is no time to procrastinate. Her priorities now begin with the necessities of her daughter. Followed by her university responsibilities, and last but not least her role as a wife. She recognizes her inability to fulfill all three sometimes, due to unforeseen situations. But she “wakes up everyday willing to give everything of [herself] having [her] priorities in mind and the time [she] has to complete them successfully.”

For Carla, “the key is time management.” And she’s certainly become a pro at it. Not only does she attend regularly to her classes she’s also conducting research at the Center for Pharmaceutical Engineering Development and Learning (C-PEDal). Working with graduate students to develop a control system for a fluid bed dryer. And not only that, she is doing this even when she still has to take the process control class in her future semesters, Carla hasn’t let this intimidate her when approaching this research. You can see her spending some of the free time she is able to find reading the book in advance and taking notes that have both helped her in her current work but will also be very useful in her future class.

She is also an active staff member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and The Puerto Rican Institute of Chemical Engineers (IIQPR), for which reason she has had the opportunities to coordinate and lead activities such as an Etiquette Workshop for the chemical engineering community. She worked with a team to which she delegated tasks such as promotion of the workshop and facility preparation. She remembers feeling very satisfied of impacting approximately 25 students through the activity. To whom they provided amazing tools that would help them in the future. The best part for her was the feedback she received from her peers who described the information received as extremely valuable. And as a participant of the workshop myself, I can testify to that.

When reflecting on the opinions she faces constantly about her choice to start a family before finishing college she points out that they are numerous and both positive and pessimist. She says that “many people relate her situation to failure." To them let her be an example that making this choice is not failing. It hasn’t been easy for her, she acknowledges that many times she faces more challenges than her peers to complete the same set of tasks. But you can rest assured that her family hasn’t and won’t prevent her from reaching her goals. On the contrary, when she compares who she was before and after becoming a mother she sees much progress. Now she is a woman that is “organized, focused, and with a purpose.”

Carla has an amazing future in front of her. She looks forward to finishing her degree in the near future. and she actively looks for opportunities to make internships and research programs to continue her professional development. As for the distant future she “hopes to work in projects that have a significant impact on people’s health.” Because she is a very empathic person that is passionate about helping others. And she knows that being able to contribute to the quality of life of others through her knowledge would bring her great satisfaction. And she is well of her way since not only is she doing her process control research but also taking a training of cell cultivation with Prof. Perales with the purpose of knowing the cytotoxicity of copper nanoparticles in cells of pancreatic cancer patients.

For Carla “empowerment is being able to take control of you capabilities and innate talents” and she is surely living by this ideal everyday of her life. Being an empowering example to each and everyone of us that we don’t have to be bound by what has been deemed acceptable in the past. That we don’t have to measure whether we are a success or a failure by someone else's bar. We are amazing human beings that have the capability of conquering so much more than we imagine and limitations are only in our heads. Let this “juana” be an example to us all that we are able to accomplish anything we want in life in our own time and manner as long as we set our priorities straight. It is time that we stop living by what is acceptable and start living by what makes sense to us and makes us feel fulfilled. Find your happiness and never let it go.