I Did Something Bad: Franceliz's Story

 

 

“Empowerment is when we give each other power to be the best versions of ourselves and to achieve anything we want in life no matter where we come from or who we are.”

- Franceliz Reyes

Having the strength to speak up your truth is an understated attribute often overlooked. But through history, women have been told time and time over to keep what they think to themselves. Still, in our current day society some people flinch when a woman speaks out of turn. That’s why today I want to highlight Franceliz Reyes, an accounting major who embodies the spirit of speaking up.

Franceliz is an undergraduate student from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. Her hobbies include reading and watching makeup videos, but above all, dancing ballet. She describes dancing as her way to escape reality and “express [her] emotions through the art of performing.” This is also the way she keeps her mind and body healthy, through exercise. Dancing has taught her several life lessons, between them challenging herself and giving her 100% in everything she does.

Even though she isn’t a professionally trained dancer, she has had the opportunity to participate in several productions. She even played the leading role of Ariel in The Little Mermaid’s musical which was one of the best experiences of her life. She was about 15 years old when she auditioned and she enjoyed having the opportunity to try something new. It was a challenge, but it helped her learn that she is capable of thing she never dreamed of. She never thought she could “learn an entire script, multiple dances and songs to perform in front of an audience.”

She does recognize that when she started the university, she was worried of the challenges of juggling dancing and college life. She remembers that, as a freshman, she “was very afraid of [her] courses since so many people would tell [her] that the University was so hard.” And for a time, she put aside her passion to focus on classes. But Franceliz soon understood that all it took was some determination and organization to not leave her dreams aside. She reveals that it is all about time management and responsibility.

Just like Franceliz isn’t afraid to follow her passions, she also isn’t afraid of speaking her truth even when it doesn’t resonate with everyone. She remembers there’s been “countless times where [she] was told that [her] opinion didn’t matter or that it was too extreme or too sensitive.” Incredibly enough, oftenly these reactions came from family members instead of strangers. For her this was extremely frustrating. Sometimes she’s been labeled as a feminazi by her own family and this has made her feel like she might burst.

Her experience is a great example of how people love to label views and ideas because of who they come from instead of actually considering them. Franceliz urges people to be “open to understanding where ideas come from and why before judging someone else’s view of life.” She highlights how judging others based on generalizations or prejudices is easy. Nevertheless, “times change and just because you were used to things being a certain way before does not mean they were ever ok to begin with.” She also believes that we need to realize that it is ok to question what you have been taught. And the fact that she is young or a woman, or how liberal her beliefs might be, doesn’t devalue her opinions.

Franceliz knows she still struggles sometimes with situations where she fears she should not say something. But as she matures, she has realized that the times were she doubts her ability to speak up grow fewer and fewer. Now, she sees that regardless of who you are if what you say is insulting or degrading you will get a piece of her mind. She will still be tactful about how she delivers her messages but just refuses to shut up about it. Franceliz believes that “the moment we silence ourselves from those we feel might be superior we lose the power we have as individuals to make a change within ourselves and the world around us.”

She recognizes that speaking your truth is “a process of constant growth that requires a lot of self love.” Also, she emphasizes with people who still struggle with being true to themselves because even with all her strength she has gone through oppressive situations and it has been difficult to walk away. She remembers that “for about a year or so [she] as in a very toxic relationship where [she] couldn’t seem to walk away. No matter how many people told [her] it was wrong.” At that time, it was really hard for her to understand how someone like her could fall prey to this. She encourages us “to put [ourselves] first always, to know [our] worth and [our] power.”

Franceliz has been very devoted to her educational and professional development, even when times proved difficult. For example, today she can proudly say she was an intern of PwC, one of the big four consulting companies. But when she was accepted, in her sophomore year, she actually had to delay her internship due to the strikes at the time. She remembers that at the time she “did not want to risk [her] grades,” something that is very important to her. Thankfully, PwC understood and saved her spot for the coming year. At that time, Franceliz was heartbroken but with time she realized this was the best decision. Thanks to this delay, she “found herself more prepared mentally and emotionally for the amazing adventures [she] lived in New York with the firm.” Franceliz was part of the START program which allows students to receive an overview of the firm and she also had the opportunity to work with the FS Marketing team. Her supervisor, Matthew Ardakanian, “really cared about helping [her] get the best out of the experience and pushed [her] out of my comfort zone.” She also attended the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit as one of the first three students to represent the UPRM in the event.

Thankfully in PwC, Franceliz found a place that truly resonates with who she is. She says that “the firm really emphasized equality in the workplace and everyone [she] met made [her] feel like [she] had just as much opportunity as any other person there.” Nevertheless, she does recognize that society as a whole still has a long way to go. Sometimes, outside the office walls she experienced uncomfortable situations where, in many occasions, she feared for her safety. She remembers being cat called by men passing by. For her, “it was extremely degrading and [she] felt the need to always be accompanied by someone.” Sadly, this is the reality for many strong women who chose to go out of their comfort zone and expose themselves in a world that still sees this as ok to some extent. That’s why we can’t stay quiet; we need to follow the example of people like Franceliz who are working towards creating a better, safer world for everyone.

Franceliz in the Brooklyn bridge.

The future is very bright for Franceliz; in this moment she sees herself receiving a full time job offer from PwC after summer. After she graduates in December 2019, she will work towards passing the CPA exam and also enjoying her last few moments in PR before moving to New York. And for the future she sees happiness and strength. She knows that it doesn’t matter where she ends up or how, she will always “surround herself with positive and encouraging people and stay on track with keeping [herself] mentally, emotionally and physically healthy.”

For Franceliz, “empowerment is the ability of every person out there to lift each other up.” But also the ability for one to lift ourselves up. She believes that “there is nothing more beautiful than seeing people from different backgrounds, cultures, sexual orientation and so on, seeing the differences between them and being like ‘damn, diversity is so amazing let's use this as a weapon for building a better world’.” Let this “juana” be an example to us all of the importance of being true to who we are and authentic in everything you do. It is time that we give ourselves the importance we deserve by doing the things we love regardless of the obstacles and by speaking up the truth. Let the world know that we will be quiet nevermore.