Cover Story

The Avelar Family: Succeeding Together


By AnaMaria Bech

How often have you heard it is better not to mix business and family? This common phrase does not apply to thousands of family businesses, where values, respect, and love help companies grow from generation to generation.

Mawí Tortillas is a local company led by Carlos Avelar and his sons Wilfredo and Fernando in collaboration with Raul. It has already proven that combining the family’s talents can drive success. 

Wilfredo Avelar is a renowned chef from New Orleans who became interested in cooking from a young age while working as a busboy. “One night, the fryer cook didn’t arrive. I signed up to cover for him and never left the kitchen,” remembers Chef Avelar. 

He wanted to be an architect but studied Culinary Arts at Delgado Community College. Even though his father didn’t want him to sacrifice family time being a chef, he never stopped supporting him. Shortly after, Chef Avelar gained recognition by working for one of America’s most famous chefs, Emeril Lagasse. “I didn’t have enough words to tell people that my son was a champion, that he opened Meril as the executive chef,” says Carlos, beaming with pride and satisfaction.

During his work at Meril, Chef Avelar met his suppliers, including the original owners of Mawí Tortillas, the only place in the region that offered fresh, daily-made tortillas. When he learned the business was for sale, Avelar saw it as the perfect venture for his father, who didn’t want to sit still after retiring.

“If things are meant for you, they will happen for you,” says Carlos. Despite facing significant financial constraints and initial setbacks, the Avelars persevered. They didn’t give up even after several failed negotiations. The owners saw their potential and made a proposal that Carlos could access. The Avelars seized the opportunity to carry out the business they once dreamed of. Father and sons united their strengths and bet on Mawí Tortillas in 2017. 

Armed with his recently acquired business administration knowledge from the University of New Orleans, Fernando stepped up to the challenge. At first, they sold only 50 pounds of tortillas a week, facing the challenge of rebuilding their clientele. However, with their relentless efforts, sales began to improve. “We had to start from scratch because the clientele was lost,” said Fernando. By taking flyers to stadiums, churches, and businesses, people learned that Mawí had the best fresh tortillas. “My son met many chefs, and that’s how our clientele from the best restaurants in the city grew,” says Avelar. Mawí Tortillas became the largest supplier to restaurants and special events such as weddings, quinceañeras, and various celebrations in two years.

In 2019, Chef Avelar dedicated himself entirely to the family business.  In 2020, the pandemic led them to reinvent themselves, and thus the restaurant arrived. He returned to the kitchen and created a Central American menu inspired by the flavors he encountered, thanks to the foods of El Salvador on his father’s side and Costa Rica, where he spent time with his mother, discovering the flavors from the region.

Initially, they offered takeaway dishes so those confined by the pandemic could enjoy an elevated homemade flavor. The pupusas, the Honduran tacos, the birria tacos, the aguas frescas, and, of course, their tortillas were recommended by people and by food experts as an excellent option of Latin food in Metairie. 

In 2022, they doubled the space of the tortilla factory, adding ample space for diners. The tortilla machine had to find a bigger place, and thus came the factory in Kenner. Nowadays, Mawí Tortillas wholesale a minimum of 50 pounds of tortillas a day. For both the restaurant and the tortilla factory, “things are changing,” says Wilfredo. The Avelars tell us that exciting news is coming in the Fall from Mawí, but they can’t reveal it just yet. “We are thrilled with these opportunities and challenges approaching us. The most important thing is that since it is a family business, we support each other,” says Carlos. 

While these changes are happening, Chef Avelar is strengthening his consulting and advisory clientele. He is developing concepts for the Hufft Marchand Hospitality Group, and this summer, he will be traveling to South Carolina to train the restaurant chefs of the luxurious gated community of Bray’s Island. “One of my goals is to obtain more clients to grow my consulting company,” says Wilfredo.

Carlos fondly recalls when he used to take his children to his job and rebuild houses after Hurricane Katrina. Instilling family values, work ethic, and teamwork is a tradition in the Avelars. With a sparkle in his eyes, Fernando expresses his love for his job, his joy in exploring all aspects of the company, and his continued creativity. “I take pride in knowing that I am part of a legacy with my family,” he says with a smile. 

Wilfredo is following his father’s example. “I plan to put my oldest son (Sebastián) to work with me this summer and teach him to be responsible and have a work ethic. That’s something you can’t teach on the first day of a job; it has to be learned at home,” says Wilfredo.

The family decided to lend a hand to the community. Mawí Tortillas provides delicious tortillas and food and opens its space to hold pop-ups, allowing emerging chefs to promote their cuisine. They also invite companies, nonprofit organizations, and even mobile consulates to hold their meetings at the premises, fostering a strong sense of community and support.

The Avelars will continue reaping successes and supporting each other during their company’s growth. We await the good news that will arrive in the fall for Mawí Tortillas.

Deejay Carolina

Para leer este artículo en español, clic>>Deejay Carolina

Many know her as Deejay Carolina, but those close to her call her Carol. She wanted to study psychology until she met her now husband and manager, Juanes Altamirano, a.k.a. Deejay Juanes, an established New Orleans Latin nightclub and radio DJ. Dating him made her curious to find out how it all worked. “It’s like when you get on an airplane, and you see a pilot’s control room with all the buttons and stuff… and I would think, ‘How do you do this?!’” She recalls telling Altamirano she wanted to learn how to DJ. “I don’t think he took me seriously at first,” she laughs. He gave her one week to prove she was serious. He soon learned Zavala had an exceptional talent. “Her good memory,” he said. He added that most DJs usually cue a song or two to mix into what’s currently playing; Zavala could cue up to seven songs without forgetting them. ‘Carolina learned in one week what it took me many years to learn,” said Altamirano. 

Zavala made her DJ debut at the House of Blues in New Orleans. She remembers being excited and nervous. “I knew a lot of people were curious to see how I was going to do.” She felt pressure to do well and favorably represent Deejay Juanes, her mentor.

Her popularity kept growing. She DJ’d a set at every notable nightclub in New Orleans and its surrounding areas. In 2014, the NBA sought a female DJ who could mix English and Spanish format for a party after the All-Star Game. Deejay Carolina got the gig. After that, she had bookings in nightclubs and festivals outside Louisiana. In early 2015, Univision announced DJ auditions to compete in the DJ@PJ competition for Premios Juventud (Youth Awards). Even with fans tagging her in the post, she told Altamirano she didn’t think she had a chance. He told her, “Do it anyway because you may have something else that other DJs don’t have,” remembers Zavala. “Ever since that moment, I began to believe in myself.” She competed for six weeks, became a fan favorite, and was the only female in the top three. The national exposure catapulted her to play in almost every U.S. state and presented Zavala with opportunities to open for major music acts such as Daddy Yankee, El Torito, Zacarías Ferreíra, and Bad Bunny, to name a few. 

Since the beginning of her DJ journey, she established El Macaneo (Honduran Slang for Wild Party or Good Time), a virtual DJ concept to entertain her fans on Facebook LIVE and to give exposure to independent musicians. When the nightclubs closed during the pandemic, Zavala strengthened her connection with her audience, turning El Macaneo into a virtual nightclub concept with over 4 Million followers. She took El Macaneo to TikTok LIVE with viewers from all over the world. 

Deejay Carolina’s future goals know no bounds. With a tour spanning 40 U.S. cities plus Latin American and European stops on the horizon, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the music world.

Beyond her DJ prowess, Zavala dreams of expanding her family. She chuckles when asked if she would add a little Deejay Carolina or little Deejay Juanes to the mix. “Only one, boy or girl. Whatever God sends!” She wants to leave a lasting legacy for aspiring female DJs. “I wasn’t the first Latina female DJ, but one of the firsts, and I know I have opened doors for other girls to do what I love,” Zavala says. Through her journey, she’s shattered stereotypes, proving that women can thrive in the male-dominated realm of DJing.

Catch Deejay Carolina in action on El Macaneo, or book her for your next event. Follow her journey on social media as Deejay Carolina for the latest updates and mixes.

Lindsey Navarro’s Empowering Mission


Para leer en español, presión aquí: Empoderar: La misión de Lindsey Navarro

By Axel "Lola" Rosa

Lindsey Navarro is the founder and Executive Director of El Centro Inc., a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization providing financial literacy and entrepreneurial training in Spanish to the Latino/Hispanic community in south Louisiana. Many know her for her bright smile, vibrant personality, work ethic, ambition, and, most importantly, because she’s probably the only person who honestly and wholeheartedly helped a favorite Latino/Hispanic business, such as a coffee shop or taco spot file the necessary paperwork to be able to operate. So what drives this Mardi Gras-loving, Panamanian descent, Houma, LA-born and raised, entrepreneurial-driven woman to do her work?

Her mother, Gloria Navarro, was a commercial banker for nearly four decades and the first female Market President at b1Bank. Her late father, Juan Navarro, was a mechanical engineer and entrepreneur designing and implementing sugar mill factory equipment and specializing in providing consulting services for the sugar cane and beet industry. As a child, she had the opportunity to spend all her summers with her grandparents in Panama, where they owned a distribution center. “I would wake up in the morning and help my grandmother check in all her customers. They would drop off all the merchandise in the mornings, and we would return to the office and count money from 8 o’clock (PM) to midnight.” Navarro cherished these moments and recognized her family’s entrepreneurial spirit. “My grandfather’s brothers all had businesses as well, and some were bankers, so I grew up in an environment where being an entrepreneur was a thing.” 

Navarro holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. Peter’s University. Initially, her goal after earning her bachelor’s was to attend law school. She lost interest in that path, even with accomplished opportunities such as working at a law firm and the District Attorney’s office and interviewing for an internship with the Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I knew I wanted to continue my education, so I had to do some sort of a Master’s (Degree) in something.”  She had a boyfriend in college who was studying international business, and she used to review all his papers. She jokes, “He used to say, ‘You know you should study marketing. You’re really good at this.’ I was like, ‘Ahhhhh, no thanks!’ I was stubborn about getting my degree and didn’t want to be one of those kids who switched majors.” 

Little did she know she would later get an MBA from Loyola University New Orleans and start her own business almost a decade later.

After earning her MBA, Navarro began working for LiftFund, a non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and Community Development Corporation (CDC) that supports small business owners through small business loans and technical support. During her seven years with LiftFund, Navarro was instrumental in deploying more than $1.2 million in microloans to Latino/Hispanic entrepreneurs across Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee. 

“I had traveled a lot of the U.S. and saw in 2015 that the organizations providing financial literacy didn’t have language accessible services even in metropolitan areas where the Latino/Hispanic population was larger.” She began her work at home and opened El Centro in March 2018. The first program launched in August through a microgrant from the Mexican Consulate of New Orleans, where El Centro provided services through their financial literacy window (Ventanilla de Educación Financiera) with monthly workshops and one-on-one coaching to customers coming through the Mexican Consulate. 

Since launching, El Centro has served more than 6,000 Spanish-speaking individuals via seminars and consultations and has reached more than 190,000 virtually. In 2021, El Centro, operating with just one volunteer, facilitated the deployment of $174,000 in microgrants to ITIN (Income Taxpayer Identification Number) holders and helped customers gain access to more than $250,000 in PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster) loans.

Ana Gonzalez, owner of La Vaquerita (The Cowgirl), a Mexican clothing store in Gretna, remembers the difficulties of starting her business and how people tried to take advantage due to her language barrier. “I lost a lot of money and business because no one spoke Spanish or wanted to help with documentation and processes,” said Gonzalez. She remembers thanking God the first time she heard about El Centro at the Algiers Flea Market. “A young lady passed out flyers and said, ‘We help you with your business. If you’re opening your business, we can help you and we speak Spanish.” Gonzalez made an appointment with Navarro. Thanks to Navarro and her organization’s efforts, Gonzalez secured a retail space for her clothing store soon after. “Lindsey personally took care of me. She took me by the hand, went with me, and spoke to the landlord about securing this location for me.” Beyond that, Navarro recommended that Gonzalez take computer courses offered at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “I learned more about my business and using a computer. Now I’m not afraid of the computer,” chuckled Gonzalez. 

Aside from contributing to the economic development of Louisiana and providing free programming to the Latino community, Navarro loves to “Let the Good Times Roll!”. She is one of the co-founders and holds a legacy position at the Krewe of Themis, an all-women’s krewe that believes in social justice and community service. “I love it; we are a mixed crew. Very, very diverse. We have a great time parading!” Navarro wanted to be a part of a krewe for a good time and to relay a message to young Latinas. Themis’s signature throw is a hand-decorated umbrella. “Last year, all my umbrellas were themed ‘Poderosas (Powerful Women)’ like an homage to our Latinidad (Latina Identity).”  Holding back tears, she adds, “Who doesn’t dream of being at a parade, Uptown? I imagine myself as a little girl reaching for a special throw and catching an umbrella from a woman who looks like me and hands a powerful message around Latinidad. That was a great opportunity to say, ‘Share your heritage and be proud of who you are because WE ARE PODEROSAS’”. 

Navarro’s work won’t slow down anytime soon. As the Latino/Hispanic Spanish-speaking community grows, so does El Centro. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 62.1 million Hispanics in the U.S. in 2020; in 2060, the population will reach 111 million. By then, roughly 1 in 4 Americans will be Hispanic. Navarro highlighted this paragraph from the book Uncolonized Latina by Valeria Aloe, MBA: “We (Latinas) open businesses at the highest rate across all population groups. We are the engine of the American economy, contributing a massive $2.6 trillion to the US GDP. This figure is so significant that if we were our own country, we would be the eighth largest economy in the world.” 

Navarro is working to serve these entrepreneurs. Last month, El Centro received a three-year grant of $450,000 to provide language-accessible wealth-building programs for 400 Latino residents of New Orleans as part of the Economic Mobility in Motion project. They continue to receive significant grants from organizations that believe in the impact of the various programs provided by El Centro.

Navarro’s upbringing, education, and personal experiences throughout her life have contributed to her strong business mindset and success. Her ambition to identify and find solutions to problems and create change is unmatched! Like most like-minded entrepreneurs who find their calling or knack, Navarro’s calling is to change how Latinos gain financial access. 

When she’s not decorating umbrellas or sailing on her boat, you can find her fighting for change within her community with a big smile while encouraging a network of Latino business owners to take the next step in their careers or businesses. One thing is sure: Navarro is a proud Latina living in the U.S. “I love our heritage, I love our culture.” With a hand in the air, she says, “I am a Latina. Loud and Proud!”

Thank you, Padre Sergio

Para español clic: ¡Gracias, Padre Sergio!

By AnaMaria Bech


After leading the Hispanic Apostolate ministry for over ten years, Friar Sergio Serrano, O.P., leaves Louisiana to carry out a new mission in Orlando, Florida.


On July 4, Serrano took advantage of the move to enjoy one of his passions: traveling on his motorcycle. “I’ll be doing 1,100 miles. I chose that date because I love the United States, and I arrived here in the United States on a Marian feast on July 16.”


Since he was a child, he wanted to be a priest. Still, his path was not a straight line.“I wanted to learn about music, the military, motorcycles, girls, everything. So I learned music, did other services, and entered religious life. It didn’t go very well, left, and then I came back”, he said. But his taste for challenges, scuba diving, motorcycle racing, and extreme sports, including skydiving, motorcycle racing, and traveling, remain.


The journey to Florida will be one of the first trips he will make in his new job as a fundraiser for an organization of bishops.”The order has requested that the Dominicans work a little more for the poor. Every weekend, I will travel to a different church nationwide, talking about this agency to get people to donate.” 


Since his ordination on June 9, 2007, Serrano has had multiple assignments in various locations. In all, his mission has been to rebuild.“The reconstruction process is encouraging because it helps me understand that I am in that plan of redemption where a God rebuilds a fallen humankind, revives it all the time, and makes it better. So when they send me to a place with the challenge to rebuild, I am very happy; I love it”.

In 2006 he came to New Orleans to rebuild the faith and churches destroyed or scattered by Hurricane Katrina. “Everyone was displaced, and the provincial told me that he saw in me the ability to rebuild, to build a community.” He worked in St. Dominic for three and a half years. He then traveled to Ecuador, where he raised more than 1 million dollars for the poorest church in the city, a monument that needed restoration. He went to Miami for six months and returned to New Orleans to rebuild the Blessed Seelos Parish, where he spent a year cleaning, fixing, and building. When it was ready, he was assigned to Memphis, Tennessee, but the archbishop requested him to stay in New Orleans. He remained the director of the Center of Jesus the Lord, which would relocate, and at the same time, worked in the Hispanic Apostolate to see if he could recover it.


“I said I am not going anywhere to close. I’ve gone everywhere to open and rebuild.” Since May 13, 2013, he has been working in the Hispanic Apostolate.” Another Marian feast,” he emphasizes.


He recovered and strengthened the Hispanic Apostolate. They restructured and expanded its various programs, provided support after multiple hurricanes, gave visibility to the community’s economic needs, and made alliances with numerous entities. Serrano was integral in educational and communication efforts during a global pandemic, a desperate time, especially for immigrants with language barriers and away from loved ones. Apart from these initiatives, he also arranged for the arrival of eight priests and seminarians to serve a community short of Hispanic priests. The volunteer base he leaves counts with over 300 members ready to help.


New Orleans has given Serrano many life lessons that have helped him grow. “I feel extremely blessed because I have great friends in New Orleans; I have people I can call my family today.” 

He will take from this city all the love and support that they have given him. He confesses he will miss the oysters he loves, along with gumbo, jambalaya, and lobsters. “I’ll take a little water from the Mississippi; as they say, whoever drinks water from the Mississippi will return.”

As for what he leaves behind, his legacy has been showing that Hispanics can improve this country. “We have a lot of talent and potential because we are resourceful, have lived with little, and know how to make a lot from a little bit. So coming to this country and multiplying what it offers and taking our talents to make it better. And most importantly, knowing that none of this is possible if we do not have God in our hearts.”


New Orleans Loves Lucy!

By AnaMaria Bech

ucy Bustamante is a New Orleans-born journalist who recently returned to her hometown to receive special recognition for her successful career. She discovered her passion at Cabrini High School, when a teacher nominated her to participate in a teen television program on Channel 4, WWL-TV called Our Generation, produced by Dominic Massa and hosted by Sally Ann Roberts, that provided early exposure to many teens in the area. “It was an incredible start to a young career for sure, and I loved it all the time.”

She was first an intern at WWL-TV Channel 4 and then worked as a production assistant at WVUE Channel 8. She moved to Biloxi, gained more experience as an associate producer, and received a phone call two years later to return to Channel 4 in 2004 as a reporter. She was there when New Orleans needed her the most; in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Later in 2006, Bustamante took over the evening anchor spot. And for four years, she was on the television screens of thousands of Louisiana’s households daily, professionally telling the news and winning over viewers’ hearts with charm.


Bustamante made many of the area’s Latino residents proud because she could speak Spanish and was happy to talk about her Cuban tradition and roots. Her Cuban culture is strong. She married a Miami-born Cuban who moved to New Orleans when she was hosting the evening news. A few years later, it was her time to support her Navy SEAL husband in the next step of his career in Virginia Beach. She left her hometown, family, and a prime-time television job. Her company allowed for a lateral transfer to a sister television station in Norfolk, Virginia, where she continued to anchor the news for a few years before moving again and settling in Philadelphia. Being a military wife, she faced the many challenges of moving around and constant deployments while juggling the demands of working on the news and becoming a mother of four. She works in Philadelphia, anchoring the morning news at NBC10 and providing breaking news coverage in Spanish for Telemundo62.

Lucy Bustamante visited New Orleans last May for a few events, including her induction into The Den of Distinction at Loyola University. This honor is reserved for” individuals who have distinguished themselves nationally through a lifetime of accomplishments or extraordinary achievements,” according to Dr. Kennedy Haydel, interim dean of the College of Music and Media at Loyola University. Twenty outstanding alums have been inducted into this hall of fame since its inception in 2012. A reception outside of campus became a special homecoming for the successful journalist. “Lucy is a generational talent. She has a heart for her community and a commitment to excellence that inspires everyone she touches. Lucy is an unforgettable force that represents the standard at Loyola’s School of Communication and Design. I’m honored to have her as our 2023 inductee,” stated Dr. Kennedy Haydel.

This event gathered some of the most recognized faces on television, producers from various channels, family, colleagues, and friends. The gathering was a testament to Loyola University’s impact on the journalism field of New Orleans and Lucy’s impact on her colleagues. “For Loyola to create an event that brought so many loved ones into a room and to be able to look 20-something years into this career and say this crew is truly my extended family was beyond special,” she said.

Bustamante made many of the area’s Latino residents proud because she could speak Spanish and was happy to talk about her Cuban tradition and roots. Her Cuban culture is strong. She married a Miami-born Cuban who moved to New Orleans when she was hosting the evening news. A few years later, it was her time to support her Navy SEAL husband in the next step of his career in Virginia Beach. She left her hometown, family, and a prime-time television job. Her company allowed for a lateral transfer to a sister television station in Norfolk, Virginia, where she continued to anchor the news for a few years before moving again and settling in Philadelphia. Being a military wife, she faced the many challenges of moving around and constant deployments while juggling the demands of working on the news and becoming a mother of four. She works in Philadelphia, anchoring the morning news at NBC10 and providing breaking news coverage in Spanish for Telemundo62.

Lucy Bustamante visited New Orleans last May for a few events, including her induction into The Den of Distinction at Loyola University. This honor is reserved for” individuals who have distinguished themselves nationally through a lifetime of accomplishments or extraordinary achievements,” according to Dr. Kennedy Haydel, interim dean of the College of Music and Media at Loyola University. Twenty outstanding alums have been inducted into this hall of fame since its inception in 2012. A reception outside of campus became a special homecoming for the successful journalist. “Lucy is a generational talent. She has a heart for her community and a commitment to excellence that inspires everyone she touches. Lucy is an unforgettable force that represents the standard at Loyola’s School of Communication and Design. I’m honored to have her as our 2023 inductee,” stated Dr. Kennedy Haydel.

This event gathered some of the most recognized faces on television, producers from various channels, family, colleagues, and friends. The gathering was a testament to Loyola University’s impact on the journalism field of New Orleans and Lucy’s impact on her colleagues. “For Loyola to create an event that brought so many loved ones into a room and to be able to look 20-something years into this career and say this crew is truly my extended family was beyond special,” she said.

Bustamante’s accomplishments include four Emmy awards, one Telly, several Associated Press awards for best anchor, and three regional Edward R. Murrow awards in 2011 for writing a documentary about the Affordable Care Act in Virginia. She also received one for breaking news in 2004 in New Orleans and a Peabody Award for coverage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Before that, she traveled to Cuba to cover the first gubernatorial trade trip between Louisiana and Havana under President Bush. She also co-hosted LIVE with Regis and Kelly with the late Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa.

Bustamante devotes much of her efforts to raising awareness about diversity in media, and she has been lucky to count on managers with the vision of supporting diversity before it was a global trend. As a young girl in New Orleans, she used to call the Spanish radio station to request songs at her father’s command, and the anchors would keep her on to chat with her live on the air. In Virginia, she served as the morning news anchor for La Selecta 103.3 at WVXX-FM, a Spanish-language radio station. In Philadelphia, she also anchors for Telemundo62. While she strives to neutralize her Cuban Spanish and takes advice from her Venezuelan and Colombian colleagues on certain words, she tells young Latino journalists who aspire to be in the news not to lose their Spanish language, as the need for information in Spanish is growing. She pays special attention to immigration news and strives to provide a balanced account of the stories of Latinos in town.

She has made it her mission to bring fairness to veterans’ stories in the media. In conjunction with NBC News, Bustamante created the “American Vets” reporting series, where she and other journalists around the country are covering issues impacting veterans in the states and abroad. In November 2022, she co-hosted and co-produced American Vets: Beyond the Battlefield, an NBC News Now Veterans Day streaming special highlighting the issues our veterans with PTSD face. “I realized there was this false sense of patriotism in the media when they would aim for the military and tell stories a certain way to propagate this idea that being military and patriotic means being extreme. I said that is not how we live,” said Bustamante.

Much news coverage is based on identities, which can celebrate diversity. “There is a movement for promoting culture with employee resource groups and corporate spaces where they want you to talk about your identity: as a woman, as a Latina, and as a person of color,” Bustamante explains. A superficial focus on those identities can create division and extremism, which happens more in underserved communities. “If you don’t tell the stories of what most of them [Veterans] are like, then you’re going to have these hate groups attaching themselves to only one trope of their identity, and it’s the violent side, and that’s not OK because that’s farther from the truth; and the media it could be farther from the truth,” she says.

With this project for NBC, Bustamante and her colleagues have been covering veteran stories more deeply as a network and in individual newsrooms. The project continues to grow, paired with an effort by NBC Universal to hire more Veterans in their newsrooms. “There is no need for corporate TV America to pin them [Veterans] against each other when that literally can lead to the destruction of our American society,” says Bustamante.

While championing important issues, Bustamante continues representing New Orleans wherever she goes. She misses her hometown’s sense of community and the South’s warmth, which she knows is hard to find elsewhere. “There’s a reason that you have three network morning shows anchored by women with New Orleans ties; we just know how to show the love, we know how to receive it, we know how to give it,” she says.

Returning to New Orleans isn’t a plan. For now, Philadelphia is good for her family. She will continue providing balanced information to English and Spanish audiences and champion the causes she believes in. She is now at the Den of Distinction of Loyola University and will continue to be celebrated here because New Orleans loves Lucy.



Universal Beauty In Town

Universal Beauty In Town

By Ana García

Click aqui para español- >Belleza Universal en La Ciudad

Sarah Nunez was crowned Miss Louisiana RIM in 2018 and Miss NOLA in 2017, and the Louisiana beauty queen graces our cover as New Orleans prepares to host the 71st Miss Universe competition for the first time.

Viva Nola: Where are you from?

Sarah: I am originally from Chalmette, Louisiana. We are neighbors to New Orleans. So when Hurricane Katrina hit, both my mom’s and dad’s homes were destroyed, so we moved around a lot, but I found my way back. 

VN:  What is the process for participating in beauty pageants?

Sarah: To become a part of the pageant circuit, you have to reach out to the pageant system of your choice. I was recruited by a sponsor of one of the pageants in 2017 and I fell in love with competing and meeting so many amazing people along the way.

VN: What are the benefits of participating in beauty pageants?

Sarah: I have made so many friends along the way because you form a sisterhood with a lot of the participants. Also, I was able to travel and create so many memories along the way through volunteering. There are so many opportunities that come with it.

VN: How can girls get into beauty competitions? 

Sarah: The best way is to reach out through the pageants’ websites and to see if there are any preliminary pageants to compete in first. The organizations make it easy to apply. I have been a part of a few different systems like Miss Louisiana Collegiate, Miss Louisiana USA, and Miss Louisiana RIM, an international system. 

VN: What advice would you give to girls who dream of being a “Miss”?

Sarah: Be yourself and NEVER give up. I know it may sound cliché, but that is what makes you stand out from the rest. So putting in the work will do nothing but elevate you in the future. 

VN: As a former Miss Louisiana and Miss NOLA, what does it mean to you to have the Miss Universe pageant in New Orleans?

Sarah: I am so excited to see the Miss Universe pageant here in the city. I have always dreamed of seeing it live, and now I have the opportunity to do it.

VN: We will have many visitors for the pageant. What do you like the most about Louisiana?

Sarah: The thing I love most about Louisiana is each city's culture. The people of Louisiana are so warm and welcoming with a touch of spice, which is ALWAYS a good thing! 

VN: What do you like the most about New Orleans?

Sarah: What I love about New Orleans is the people here, plus all the food! I work at a large venue in New Orleans, and everyone I meet is always so happy to be there. It’s a beautiful thing. I also love to cook and eat, so the food is just an added bonus. 

VN: What would you say to a person interested in visiting New Orleans for the first time?

Sarah: If you are visiting New Orleans for the first time, my biggest suggestion would be to research all of the cool spots to see because even though I live in the New Orleans area, currently, I am STILL finding hidden gems throughout the city!

Aarón Sánchez Makes an Impact

Aarón Sánchez Makes an Impact

Click aqui para español- >Aarón Sánchez y su impacto

Aarón Sánchez is one of the world’s most distinguished chefs. You have seen him host and star in multiple food shows, most notably as a judge on FOX’s “MasterChef” and “MasterChef Junior” and co-star of Food Network’s “Chopped” and “Chopped Junior.” He recently debuted a Spanish language cooking competition series called “El Sabor de Aarón.” He was the host of the Cooking Channel’s Emmy-nominated series, “Taco Trip,” and has appeared on numerous other shows, including “Iron Chef” and “Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Additionally, Sánchez hosted two Spanish-language shows on Fox Life, “3 Minutos con Aarón” and “MOTOCHEFS.”

If you’re lucky, you’ve run into him at his CBD restaurant, Johnny Sánchez, or around town in New Orleans, where he has resided for the last seven years.

Sánchez dislikes using the term “Latinx,” but he is a proud Latino. He was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, and moved to El Paso, Texas, so he grew up in a bicultural community and spoke Spanish first and English second. Later, his mom, Zarela Martínez, moved the family to New York City to pursue her culinary dream of becoming one of the pioneers of Mexican food in New York.

Sánchez is passionate about preserving his family’s legacy through food and encouraging diversity in the kitchen.  “I’m a third-generation cookbook author. My grandmother wrote a fantastic book called “Mexican Family Cooking” in 1986.”

He comes from a matriarchal background and admires women in charge. “My grandmother and mom are the gatekeepers of flavors and the tastemakers, and that’s how I grew up.” Sánchez’s books include two cookbooks - “La Comida del Barrio” and “Simple Food, Big Flavor” as well as a memoir, “Where I Come From: Life Lessons From A Latino Chef.”

Celebrating Latino heritage is part of everything Sánchez does. And for the active philanthropist, The Aarón Sánchez Impact Fund was his outlet to help preserve his community. The chef understood the impact of mentorship because he lived it when his mother sent him to New Orleans under chef Paul Prudhomme’s wing. “I came down here at a troubling time in my life, and he got me right. He mentored me and gave me fatherly lessons and all the things that I needed, so I always had New Orleans in my heart.”

Sanchez decided it was time to say goodbye to New York and moved to New Orleans when he became the co-owner of the Johnny Sánchez restaurant in 2014. He wanted to add Mexican cuisine and its flavors to the New Orleans food scene. He also wanted to make a difference for young Latino aspiring chefs that needed the support he once sought. “When I started cooking 25 years ago, I felt there was a huge disparity between Latinos getting leadership positions in kitchens, and I didn’t want education to be the crutch.”

The Aarón Sánchez Impact Fund, a program of the Emeril Lagasse Foundation, provides access to the best education for aspiring Latino chefs ages 18 to 25. Eleven students have received scholarships thus far valued at approximately $715,000. The scholarship includes full tuition to the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, eight months of room and board, all required school supplies, a monthly unlimited MetroCard, and flights to and from New York for the start and end of the program. It also provides mentorship opportunities for the duration of the program, as well as culinary industry experience. 

“I’m a chef at heart,” says Sánchez. “I do television, and I used that as a marketing tool initially in my career, but now it is this unbelievable tool to reach a huge audience. I can tell stories, and I can tell stories through my food, through the unbelievable team that we have, and we can inspire the next generation through the Aarón Sánchez Impact Fund.”

That reach is visible and authentic. Camila Arias, the 21-year-old sous chef at Johnny Sánchez, is one of the three graduates of the program from the New Orleans area. She applied for the scholarship as soon as she turned 18. “I applied online and was interviewed in the restaurant. Then, two weeks later, I got the phone call that I got the scholarship.” Arias was on her way to New York by 2020. “I learned so much from my teachers there and the chef mentoring me. Even though he wasn’t there day to day, he was still checking on us, making sure our grades were good.”

After completing the program, she returned to New Orleans, and they called her from Johnny Sánchez to do her internship with them. She has loved being part of and learning from the restaurant family chef Sánchez has created. 

“Camilla is bold, confident, and has such an appreciation for New Orleans,” Sánchez proudly says. “She loves to learn and be accepted into all the unbelievable opportunities that happen when you are part of our program. Her power is infectious; it’s beautiful.”

Sánchez hopes to find four culinary students, hopefully from the New Orleans area, who, like Arias, will benefit from the Aarón Sánchez Impact Fund. “Fill out the applications. Chase your dreams of being a culinary leader. You will have access to all our colleagues and our unbelievable network of chefs who can inspire you.” 

To find out more about the Aarón Sánchez Impact Fund, visit AaronSanchezImpactFund.com.

Cesar Bugos and His Legacy

Cesar Bugos and His Legacy

Click aqui para español- >Cesar Burgos y su legado

With over 27 years of practicing law, Cesar Burgos continues to gain recognition as a skilled car accident and personal injury attorney.

His parents emigrated from Honduras to the United States when he was a child. The values instilled by his parents have been a key factor for him in achieving success as a lawyer, an investor, and an entrepreneur. He has remained true to his roots, never forgetting where he comes from and where he belongs.

He lived his childhood and adolescence years in New York City, a modern and beautiful city, but with many difficulties, he recalled. “We had a sacrificed life; my parents worked arduous hours to support all of us. New York was a good school for me,” he said.


Eventually, his parents decided to move to New Orleans. Burgos still has fond memories of his time attending Bonnabel High School and Loyola University, where he earned his law degree.

Burgos also remembers with excitement the best soccer games he played at the various local soccer leagues during his youth. This sport allowed him to win the friendships of many who affectionately called him ‘Cesarito.’

Burgos treasures his experiences from his successful career as a legal professional and serving the Hispanic community. His best school has been the American courtrooms, and the satisfaction of thousands of clients his greatest gift.

One of his greatest achievements as a Latino was his outstanding participation in the reconstruction of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.


During this time, he had various positions and appointments, including serving as the president of the Regional Transit Authority of New Orleans (RTA). Throughout his management, he achieved the reconstruction and operation of the public transport service of the city of jazz in record time. His involvement not only serves as an example for new and future generations but also shows that Hispanics can be important contributors to the development of this multicultural city.

“I thank God for my success and for the people who have supported me throughout my career. I also thank my parents who taught me to work hard, be honest, and be proud of my Latin roots,” he said.


In addition to dedicating himself to other fields beyond legal representation, Burgos reiterates that we, as Latinos, must be aware that it is important to work hard, respect, and comply with the law. Burgos also encourages young people to go the extra mile and achieve professional success.

“I was able to honor my parents, and with commitment and dedication, I raised my family. My son Adrian is a real estate professional, and my daughter Amanda is going to law school and will soon become a lawyer. I am proud of them,” he said.

He feels socially responsible to the Latin American community and always has a firm heart and willingness to help those who need it most. Attorney Cesar Burgos is actively involved in the Hispanic community, from sponsoring local soccer events to supporting youth. “Latino children are also the future of this city,” Burgos concluded.

Outstanding Women: Daniela Bello

Outstanding Women: Daniela Bello

By AnaMaría Bech


Click aqui para español- > Mujeres sobresalientes: Daniela Bello

We at VIVA NOLA celebrate women’s contributions all the time, and in honor of Women’s History Month, we want to recognize Daniela Bello. Daniela serves as the Cross-Cultural Coordinator for Jefferson Parish. She has managed to unite community leaders, non-profit organizations, and the Latino media, creating a network that provides resources, support, and information to the Latino community in the region.

Get to know the story of this leading woman by reading the following interview:

Where are you from?

I was born in Florida, and when I was one year old, my parents decided to return to Nicaragua, so I grew up and got my education there.

When and why did you move to New Orleans?

In 2009, I came to visit my family in Kenner, where I decided to stay and work for my family and pursue a new academic opportunity.

What did you study?

I attended Herzing University to be a Physician Assistant and studied Communications and Public Relations at the American University of Nicaragua.



What are some of the jobs you’ve held in Louisiana?

I have worked as a medical assistant in different clinics around the city. I was also a reporter for Telemundo 42, and now I am the Cross-Cultural Coordinator for Jefferson Parish.

What do you like most about living in Louisiana?

I love that it’s small compared to other states. It’s slow paced, and in a way, we all know each other.

What do you miss the most about Nicaragua?

My family. The ease of getting around to visit my family since everything is close.

How did you get to your current job?

I believe that God prepares you to take significant steps at some point. I found out about this job offer at the end of 2019, I applied, and although I knew it was the primary position, I never doubted my abilities.

How do you feel in that role?

I feel blessed and happy and enjoy learning a lot every day. My passion is helping communities by providing information, and I know that God has a purpose in my life with this work.

Why did you create a Latino leaders’ group?

Just days before Hurricane Ida, I thought I wanted to have a way to keep the community up to date with the information and decisions made at the Parish level. So, I added Latino community leaders on a WhatsApp group to provide them with official, last-minute information directly from the Emergency Center in Gretna, where essential workers were concentrated.

What have you learned about the needs of the Latino community?

Most needs in the Latino community are due to a lack of curiosity and initiative. Several community resources and programs are available, but people don’t know about them and often don’t utilize them. I have also realized that we need more leaders who are committed to the community.

How have your colleagues responded and supported your initiatives?

My colleagues have been very receptive to new ideas and initiatives. For example, we have managed to take the Latino community and other minority communities into account in projects and programs that had not previously addressed their needs.

Why go beyond what your job requires?

When you’re doing what you love, it’s not difficult to go beyond what you have to do. But, on the contrary, you do it because it makes you feel good. So, thanks to this job, I can combine what I am passionate about: living within the community, informing, and creating new initiatives.

Do you think you’ve made a difference in the community?

I am working to make a difference. It is not up to me to say if I am doing it or not; we will have an answer in some time when we have a more informed and united community. What is gratifying is hearing or reading a “THANK YOU,” which tells me that what I am doing is bearing fruit and motivates me to continue.

What is the importance of women’s leadership in our community?

It is vital because women can be an example for other generations and realize that, with effort and dedication, they can come to occupy essential roles and be agents of change in the community. Locally, we have the example of Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng, who is an inspiration to me for becoming the first woman president of the parish.

Daniela is very proud of her culture and roots and has been involved in cultural activities since she was young, promoting folklore through dance and reciting poetry.

We thank Daniela Bello for her contribution to the Latino community in Louisiana and congratulate her for doing an excellent job!

Big Easy Bucha: From NOLA to the World  


By AnaMaria Bech

The local beverage company Big Easy Bucha founded by Austin Sherman and Alexis Korman, announced on November 4 its acquisition by the Latin American company Beliv. This transaction allows Big Easy Bucha to expand its products worldwide, allowing Beliv to penetrate the American market with its portfolio of 28 products.

The entrepreneurial couple started Big Easy in 2014 in their apartment near Bourbon Street with a bucket, a straw, and 700 dollars. With the help of angel investors, they grew their kombucha drink products organically until 2017, when the company began to grow exponentially. 

In 2020, a friend of Sherman’s introduced him to Beliv’s partners, Carlos Sluman and José Enrique Alba Escamilla. This meeting was, according to Sherman, “love at first sight.” “We saw an opportunity to partner with a company that values ​​its people, so in terms of culture, we had chemistry. They had the vision to bring innovative products to international markets, and they saw that opportunity with us as their first acquisition in the United States,” added the Big Easy founder.

With the acquisition of Big Easy, not only will the products that originated in Louisiana be distributed throughout the more than 30 countries where Beliv has a presence, but also its brand, immediately associated with our city, will be recognized internationally.

Tepache, Big Easy Bucha
Tepache, Big Easy Bucha

José Enrique Alba Escamilla, CVO of Beliv, shares the joy of this new partnership with Big Easy. Beliv is a tech and innovative company that produces more than 28 beverage products. Its main headquarters are in Puerto Rico, and the bottler is in Guatemala. They are currently exporting their products to China, and this acquisition is another crucial step for Beliv.

“Beyond finding a product or a brand, we are looking for talent and an entrepreneurial mindset. Finding a partnership with entrepreneurs like Austin and Alexis was a perfect opportunity to get into the US market known for its entrepreneurial environment and innovative vision,” said Alba Escamilla.

Beyond investing in Big Easy and its products, Beliv is also investing in the state of Louisiana. “They’re betting on our people,” Sherman says, admitting to the difficulties in New Orleans and Louisiana in raising capital. “It is a great opportunity for a great and respected strategic partner to be integrated into our city and our state.”

The relationship of Beliv with the state is a story that is just beginning. “We want to improve our logistics and create our innovation hub in the United States, and we have many plans with Big Easy and its talent,” said Alba Escamilla.

Economic development organizations in Louisiana have played an essential role in the growth of Big Easy Bucha and other local companies. According to Norman Barnum, CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA), his organization has been pivotal in helping Big Easy select its operations site and serving as a strategic guide for them since 2014. “Seeing the growth of this company from then until now is what’s important. Nurturing and being able to provide solutions to emerging companies to reach this point is something that fills me with excitement”.

This transaction is retaining 27 jobs and creating 50 direct jobs and 119 indirect jobs. Beyond the merger with a Latin American company that allows the expansion of the Big Easy brand to an international market, NOLABA is also excited about the boost this move gives to entrepreneurs and the impact this acquisition has on the New Orleans community.

With the proper business support, a product created in the closet of an apartment can become a global product. Tax breaks, opportunities to present a brand at different events, financial grants, workforce training programs, and support from Louisiana Economic Development and NOLABA, among other economic-boosting organizations, were essential to solidify Big Easy Bucha.

Austin Sherman, Carlos Sluman, Alexis Korman seal the deal for Big Easy Bucha and Beliv. Photo by Taylor Rega

Big Easy Bucha’s story serves as a testament to the incredible talent and entrepreneurial culture in New Orleans. “We want to see more food and beverage entrepreneurs; our community has an entrepreneurial culinary talent that we want to support,” says Sherman.

The new owners of Big Easy are very excited that their growth within the United States begins in New Orleans. Alba Escamilla confesses that NOLA is “one of his favorite cities in the world” and adds that Beliv’s presence in the city is a “first step to support entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry in the United States. Perhaps we can create a hub for this purpose in the country. New Orleans meets the requirements for this mission, and this is the beginning of this dream.”

Beliv wants to maintain operations in the state long-term and hire additional staff. “We have seen great acquisitions these days in our city. It is an opportunity to create impact; we want entrepreneurs to see that this is possible,” said Sherman.

Imagination Movers The guys who like to figure things out are back!

Imagination Movers

The guys who like to figure things out are back!

By Ana García

Imagination Movers

The guys who like to figure things out are back!

Click aqui para español- >Contágiate de creatividad con Los Imaginadores

The city of New Orleans is always brimming with history, culture, cuisine, art, and music. People around the world have experienced its unique sounds of Jazz, Blues, Bounce, Brass, Hip-Hop, Zydeco, and much more. We can thank countless musicians such as the famous Louis Armstrong, Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty, to name a few, for being an inspiration and for sharing their universal legacy. There is also a unique local music band that’s been “Brainstorming” for years and awakening the imagination of kids around the world. Dave Poche, Scott Durbin, Rich Collins, and Scott “Smitty” Smith are four “goofy” friends from Lakeview, Mid-City and together they are the Imagination Movers. We shared a cup of coffee with Smitty while he told us their success story.

“Everything had gone to animation or puppets, there were no people.” The idea of creating the group was born in 2002 at a friend’s birthday party. Their show would be about four friends who work in an “Idea Warehouse.” This warehouse is a metaphor for the child’s mind to solve problems. Mover Smitty remembered, “the first pilot script was about helping a child decide between a healthy snack and junk food.” Next came creating the music. They wrote three songs, “Snackin ABCs,” “My Favorite Snacks,’’ and “Good Ideas.” These became their first album called “Good Ideas.” This album later added other songs like “I Want My Mommy” and the fan-favorite “Brainstorming.” After putting out the record, selling it, and giving it to friends, their popularity grew, not only locally but regionally. The attention allowed them to create and release their first DVD, which was recorded during a live performance at the UNO Lakefront Arena. The DVD made it to Burbank, California, thanks to friends and opened the door to The Walt Disney Company.

Right from the start, the four movers knew how to “Reach high, Think big, Work hard, Have fun.” Their partnership with Disney helped them gain popularity in Europe and Latin America. According to Mover Smitty, their time at Disney brought them “one of the most fun creative challenges that they had” when writing songs for their television show. After 3 seasons, they began touring around the country.

The “Movers” are a real example of perseverance and resilience. Like many musicians in this business, they had to face some challenges and obstacles. However, they never lost sight of what their brand is all about: Kids. “Kids were being treated as consumers more than anything,” said Smitty. “We wanted kids to have fun using their creativity and using their imagination to solve problems.” It was importanto to the movers “not to play down to the kids, to play on their level, not to dumb down the music.”

The Imagination Movers have been “organic from the start.” All this is reflected in their more than 200 songs, television shows, concerts, and music videos. Their Facebook page has served as a way to stay relevant and to continue connecting with their audience. There, you can see them rehearsing and “goofing around” live. Their brotherhood is so strong that when they get together with their instruments, voices, and songs, magic happens, and you can really see their passion.

The Movers and their iconic blue suits are back with a new album called “Happy to Be Here” which includes five songs, “Happy,” “Robot Breaks Down,” “Leaves Fall Down,” “My Dog,” and “Alligators are Cute.” “Happy to Be Here” is a beautiful, fun, and very clever album that was born in an Airbnb in Manchac, Louisiana, literally, in the swamp. “We went there and brought our instruments. It’s almost like we were sequestered, it’s like, okay, we are here for a reason,” Mover Smitty recalled.

There’s no doubt that their “Big ideas” and inspiration for their new songs are, like the rest of their work, a group collaboration. An example is the lyrics from the song “My Dog,” in which each Mover wrote their own verses about their pets. “So, these lyrics are true, we are all dog owners, except for Dave who’s a cat owner, which is hilarious,” Smitty commented. “Scott’s dog Hershey, his dog pees when you pet him. When I come home my dog picks up a shoe, and brings it to me,” he added smiling. The song “Robot Breaks Down” is one of Smitty’s favorites, he describes it as “It’s just so poppy, candy goodness.” The video for this song was filmed in City Park and was directed by Abby Collins, Mover Rich’s daughter.

What is in store for the Movers? As true New Orleanians, their love for the city, their community, and their passion for music motivate them to keep moving forward. And the Hispanic community is no exception. For their 20th anniversary in 2022, the Movers have a surprise, and in a sneak preview, they told us that it includes Spanish language content. “We’ve been working on a song - tentatively titled Te Digo Que Te Amo (De Muchas Maneras) and we’re also looking to re-record Brainstorming in Spanish. For us, we are aware of our impact and how what we’ve created resonated with our Spanish-speaking fans. It’s our goal to respectfully recognize our fan base as evidenced by our desire to give back even as we create.”

Mover Smitty finished off this interview by giving a special message to the community: “If you are passionate about what you want to do, just do it! We just kind of believed it and we worked to push it along.”

You will never know where that idea could take you and if you need a little inspiration just look at the Imagination Movers.

Photo Credit: Adams Photography


*** The Imagination Movers television show, which originally aired on Disney Junior from 2008 to 2013, is available again on Disney+.


*** Want to support?

Get a “El lema de Los Imaginadores” t-shirt on imaginationmovers.com Proceeds will go to diverse non-profits supported by Los Imaginadores.

Dr. Roy Salgado. Supporting Mental Health in our Community

Dr. Roy Salgado.
Supporting Mental Health in our Community
By AnaMaria Bech

Click aqui para español- >El doctor Roy Salgado y su aporte a la salud mental en la comunidad

During the COVID-19 pandemic, struggles with mental health have brought what used to be a taboo topic to the main stage. The greatest gymnast of all times, Simone Biles, withdrew from the most crucial competition in her field, the Olympic games, citing the need for mental health as the reason for her shocking announcement. High-performing athletes such as Naomi Osaka and Michael Phelps have publicly recognized their mental state. At the same time, entertainers like Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez keep bringing the topic to the mainstream media.

Health practitioners and officials in Louisiana and, particularly in New Orleans, quickly recognized the impact of mental health in the community. The University of Holy Cross was one of the first institutions to react and address the need for health counseling. They expanded their counseling services by providing free access to Tele counseling for New Orleans area residents.

The television series “Coping During the COVID Crisis” helped reach a broader audience with information about mental health issues that many in the community were experiencing. Dr. Roy Salgado, Associate Professor of Counseling at the University of Holy Cross, chose the most relevant topics for the TV program and provided resources to the community. The program airs on WLAE-TV Fridays at 8:00 P. M.

Salgado has been a faculty member of the University of Holy Cross since shortly after hurricane Katrina. Born in New Orleans to Honduran parents, Salgado is fully bilingual and has provided critical mental services and health information in English and Spanish. Over twenty years, his trajectory involves working with vulnerable communities and providing counseling to immigrants, victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and domestic violence.

He is a Psychology major graduate from Tulane University and received his master’s degree in Counseling and his Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of New Orleans. “When I began working in health counseling, I was one of the very few licensed Latinos who could provide these services.” When there was an influx of unaccompanied children about six years ago, Salgado worked on a project and gathered health professionals who could support the vulnerable minors, finding only about 23 qualified counselors qualified to provide their services in Spanish.

He realizes there is a greater need today to have representation in the healthcare field. “We need more health providers, whether it is in medicine or counseling, who speak Spanish so that we can meet the demand for these services in our community.”

He has made it part of his mission as faculty to promote access to higher education to everyone. Still, as a Latino, he wants to make sure more Latino students go into professional careers. “We need professional Latinos in our community that cross-culturally understand the community,” says Salgado.

The University of Holy Cross currently has about 5% of a Latino student population. Salgado uses every opportunity to promote the growth of the University, the various programs the University offers, and advocates for careers in Counseling. “I have been able to recruit some Latino students into the program who have served in my private practice as interns. I was able to multiply myself by hiring some of them.”

That additional help is essential at a time when mental health is the topic of many discussions. “Even though not everyone has been infected, everyone has been affected by the virus. Many people have experienced the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, income, community, society, and all of this has impacted the individuals, so there are high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and fear.”

According to Salgado, the most significant need during this fourth surge of the Coronavirus is conflict resolution. “There is a battle between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. We have to learn how to listen to each other without judging or adding heat to an already complex situation.”

Salgado stresses the importance of understanding that we are all humans that react differently to each situation. “When we feel overwhelmed or exhausted, it is a normal reaction of a human being, and not necessarily of a person who is sick, or someone that needs psychiatric help. It’s normal to recognize that sometimes we need help from our family, friends, and if that help is not enough because they don’t have enough resources, perhaps that’s when we need to seek professional help.”

If you are interested in a career in counseling, you can contact Dr. Roy Salgado by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chef Melissa Araujo’s Alma

Chef Melissa Araujo’s Alma

By Ana García

Click aqui para español- >Melissa Araujo: Alma de Chef

The city of New Orleans is world-renowned for its delicious cuisine. Thanks to the fact that this city enjoys a very diverse cultural influence, a modern Honduran restaurant like Alma Cafe can exist.”

Melissa Araujo, chef and founder of Alma Café, was born in La Ceiba, on the Atlantic coast of Honduras. She grew up primarily in Providence, Rhode Island, and New Orleans. She never stopped visiting her beloved country every summer.

Melissa is the ninth daughter of an Italian/Honduran couple. At 16, she began working in the kitchen, washing dishes. It was always essential for her father that their children received a college education, so Melissa entered college to study law. After a while, she suspended her studies and began working in different restaurants in the city. “I did not choose this profession; the profession picked me,” said Chef Araujo about finding her passion for cooking.

Upon entering her restaurant Alma Cafe, a portrait of her parents and a striking mural of the Mayan goddess Ixchel, goddess of the moon, love, and fertility, catches your attention. The personal touches throughout the restaurant give it a cozy feel.
Alma, the word for soul in Spanish, was the name Araujo gave the restaurant because it represents her essence. “Alma is not a name; it is not a person, it is my spirit, it is my soul, it is who forms Melissa,” says the chef, adding that “the photos of this restaurant are my family, the recipes are my family.”

The successful chef highlights that the goal of Alma Café is to show that Honduran culture has much to offer, and that is why she tells the story of her country through her family’s recipes.

Araujo is proud of her heritage, and she is also proud of Alma having an all-female kitchen team. Her sister, Ana Araujo, is in charge of keeping the traditional recipes in the kitchen, and her general manager, Ashleigh Oquelí, runs a smooth operation under the chef’s absolute trust.

Alma Café offers delicious breakfasts and lunches. One of the most requested dishes is the Alma Breakfast, a dish consisting of ripe plantain slices, refried beans, eggs, cream, avocado, and fresh, homemade cheese.

The baleada is Araujo’s recommended dish. Alma’s baleada is the chef’s modern adaptation of the quintessential Honduran staple and her grandmother’s recipe. The baleada consists of a tortilla hand-made to order, refried beans, scrambled eggs, homemade cream, and fresh cheese. For garnish, Araujo uses locally-grown microgreens to add flavor and freshness to the dish. Customers can customize the baleada by adding avocado or their preferred protein. Apart from the delicious natural aguas frescas, flavored fruit waters with no added sugar, Alma offers imported 100% Honduran coffee of the highest quality.

According to Araujo, this modern Honduran restaurant aims to “take the traditional and raise it a foot or two higher, and start putting Honduran gastronomy on the map.” For this reason, one of the chef’s goals is also to open the doors of Alma to serve as a launching platform for future Honduran chefs. Araujo understands that this profession is full of sacrifices, and it is not easy to get to where she is. Her advice to aspiring chefs: “Never listen to someone who tells you that you will not be able to make it; you can do it. You need to know your capacity, and nobody can tell you what your capacity is.”

Alma Café is currently open seven days a week from 8 am to 3 pm at 800 Louisa Street in New Orleans. In the fall, Araujo plans to expand the service hours to include dinner so that customers can indulge in delicious wines while they continue to enjoy her excellent cuisine.

”Zydeco Star” A fusion of cultures


”Zydeco Star” A fusion of cultures

By Anamaria Bech

Click aqui para español- > ”Zydeco Star”Una fusión de culturas

Zydeco superstar Rockin ‘Dopsie Jr. collaborated on “Zydeco Star,” the latest single by composer Fermin Ceballos. The multi-talented Dominican artist based in New Orleans will release Zydeco Star on April 24, the second single of his upcoming album, Bochinche.

The idea for the collaboration came after Ceballos met Dopsie Jr. in 2019 when he was giving a concert with his merengue band at a West Bank bar. “When he arrived, we were surprised, and I dared to ask him if he wanted to play a merengue with us. He went to the car and brought his washboard, and played with us. I remember that he loved it, and then he told me, ‘I wanna do something with you, little brother.’”

Although they ran into each other at various festivals, it was only until the 2020 French Quarter Fest opening ceremony that they had a chance to chat again about the collaboration. This time, the busy schedule of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. and the Zydeco Twisters was clearing up as it was the early days of the pandemic that affected the band’s commitments in Europe.

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. grew up in a musical family from Lafayette, Louisiana. Although his first instrument was the accordion, the washboard is the signature that sets him apart. The washboard gave him the mobility he needs for his energetic performances that include jumping up and down, doing splits, and dancing in a way that captivates an audience unable to resist dancing to his music.

Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. has managed to spread the traditional music of the Acadian Cajun region of Louisiana worldwide. He has carried on his father’s legacy, the King of Zydeco, Rockin’ Dopsie Sr, and has brought this music to broader audiences.

For Fermin Ceballos, working on this collaboration goes beyond two artists creating together. It’s a chance to bring the rhythm to other communities. Ceballos wrote “Zydeco Star,” zydeco mixed with bachata and folk-rock influences with lyrics in English and Spanish, to honor the impact of Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. on the genre. 

The process of creating the single took about eight months. The process happened organically. Ceballos witnessed the professionalism and humility of the renowned interpreter, who allowed the composer’s creative freedom. ‘We met at my home, rehearsed the lyrics, the music, and then we met in the studio where we recorded the song.”

Fusing zydeco and bachata was only possible because of the accordion. “This was the strongest link because, although we can fuse the two genres, they have a different rhythmic pattern. But the accordion unites them,” explains Ceballos, adding that the güira is replaced in this song by the famous washboard played by Dopsie Jr. 

 “When I heard the rhythm, the drums, and the base, it was so different for me,” said Dopsie Jr. Having recorded with artists such as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and Cyndi Lauper, among others, Dopsie Jr. understands styles are unique. “They want you to follow their rhythm,” Dopsie Jr. said about collaborations with other artists and his reasoning behind not making any changes to Ceballos’ song. He admitted that “playing the washboard was a challenge, but I didn’t want to change anything. The song had that Miami vibe. It’s a perfect song for the club.”

Ceballos took the opportunity to be part of a Louisiana genre that’s as upbeat as Dominican merengue. “As an artist, it’s wonderful for me that he put his name and talent in my hands to produce the song.” 

This experience was also exciting for Dopsie Jr., who gets to sing a few Spanish words in the chorus. “I’ve always thought Latin music is the best music. I’ve admired Latin music for a while, starting with one of my idols Carlos Santana.” 

Dopsie Jr. is excited about the result. “I want to thank [Fermin] for letting me be on his single, and I can’t wait to play it on stage, either at one of my gigs or one of his gigs.”

As of April 24, you can find “Zydeco Star” on different music platforms, including Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube.

Mardi Gras 2021: The Year House Floats Were Born

Mardi Gras 2021: The Year House Floats Were Born

By Alejandra Guzmán

Click aqui para español- >Mardi Gras 2021: El año que nacieron las casas carrozas

Mardi Gras celebrations in 2021 will not include New Orleans’ traditional parades, which take place yearly during carnival season. The need to cancel the usual way of celebrating was necessary to keep our city healthy, as we now understand that large gatherings are COVID-19 super spreader events.

While we will not have parades this year, this does not mean there will not be other ways to keep the tradition alive, our spirits high, and support the local economy. During a traditional year, Mardi Gras has a direct economic benefit of about $144 million for the city. Although we may not see this kind of economic impact, creative initiatives have emerged to allow for a safe carnival season and to support local artists and vendors who depend on Mardi Gras for their incomes.

“Hire A Mardi Gras Artist” is an initiative created by the Krewe of Red Beans to produce 40 extravagantly decorated homes during the 2021 carnival season. The first house to be decorated under this program is on Toledano Street. Its theme honors the late iconic musician Dr. John, and it includes a large skull, snakes, flowers, and Cyprus oak trees. This initiative combines a donation drive with a lottery system, and its goal is to raise $10,000 per home. Donors enter a raffle to have their house decorated.

The do-it-yourself house-decorating group called “Krewe of House Floats” is an organized group that started on Facebook that has gained thousands of followers. Sub-krewes of decorators worked the house floats located around more than 30 neighborhoods in New Orleans.

The group got started under the belief that if we cannot safely gather by the parade route this year, we can still bring the spirit of carnival home to celebrate the season in a pandemic-safe manner.

The decoration of house floats began on January 6 and will culminate on February 16. This vital effort will provide donations to organizations around the city that support those affected most by Mardi Gras’s cancellation. 

The site www.kreweofhousefloats.org includes a list of artists and vendors that can get hired to decorate your home. You can also find a map with the location of all the house floats throughout the city so that you can visit.

Monserrath Avila’s Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle

Happy Living. Monserrath Avila’s Journey to a Healthy Lifestyle

By AnaMaria Bech

Click aqui para español- > El Camino de Monserrath Avila a un estilo de vide saludable

If you meet Monserrath Avila, you will find a motivated, confident, healthy, and fit beautiful woman. A devoted mother and wife, and an entrepreneur, who provides fresh, healthy, portioned meals through Happy Living Meal Prep, the business she created with her husband, Sebastian Gomez.

Once you learn about her business, you understand why Avila lives such a healthy lifestyle. But when you follow her on her Instagram profile, @itsme.monse, you not only find motivational phrases and workout posts, but you also find surprising before and after photos.

You realize her healthy journey started a while ago when she was 80 pounds heavier. The difference is striking, and her bravery in the way she shares about this healthy lifestyle journey with her followers is admirable.

Avila began learning about focusing on fueling her body with the right nutrients and with whole foods. She disliked vegetables but forced herself to incorporate them in her meals. She began to do food prepping to control her portions and create the right combinations of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. When people started noticing her changes, they asked her for advice and kept asking for recipes. Avila understood that there could be an opportunity for a business that would allow her to create some income while helping others. Gomez bought the first box of containers and told his wife that he believed she could have a successful business. Soon after, Happy Living Meal Prep got started about three years ago. The company has been an economic opportunity for the family, but it also serves Avila’s fulfillment. “I love to be able to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle.”

Social media has helped Avila promote her business and also has provided her company during her fitness process. “I feel this is a lonely journey. When I share it on social media, other people can see that if I made it, they could also make it.” Avila has been able to connect with other women, especially with other moms. “They ask me all kinds of questions. They ask how I’m not ashamed to post pictures where you see my stretch marks. I answer and try to remind them that we must love our body, our temple. I feel that by sharing my changes, I can inspire other women.”

Though scrutinized by the internet trolls from time to time and being accused of achieving her results through plastic surgery, Avila stresses healthy nutrition and controlled portions for long-term weight loss. Avila also reminds everyone to be patient. “Making small changes every day helps. In a year, those small changes will make a big difference. She has eliminated the word “diet” and has replaced it with “lifestyle.” She understands the most challenging part for most is realizing that this process takes time. She shares her “Before and After” photos to serve as a testament that incredible changes don’t happen quickly, but that they are achievable.”

During the weekend, Avila and Gomez work to prepare, package, and deliver meals to clients in the New Orleans metropolitan area. Customers can pick from one or two meals per day and sign up by Friday to get their meals for the following week. Convenience is this service’s main appeal, and the fact that the food is never frozen makes it the healthiest meal prep alternative in town. There are no added preservatives, and the food can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.”

“Happy Living Meal Prep is an easy, fun lifestyle. When you get your food, you will not say it’s flavorless. We always changed up our menu. You don’t have to worry about the right portions and nutrients. It’s an exploding of Colombian and Honduran flavors, and people will never feel they are dieting,” explains Avila.

Her daughter, Sofia, has been her greatest inspiration to improve her everyday life. “She is my motor.” The physical changes have been a plus because, for Avila, the difference in her mentality has been the most important. “If we have no control of our bodies, what would we be able to control? I feel good. I have energy. I can do things with my family and my daughter that I couldn’t do before when I was overweight. I was always tired; I had no desire. I was miserable,” Avila added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made more evident the need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “I believe better nutrition is the best medicine to combat this virus and to keep the body strong to stay healthy. Avila has developed a need to exercise and to take care of her health every day. When she doesn’t take the time to get it done, she feels she is cheating herself out of the gift of a healthy life.

“Start today. Make a small change. No one will ever say, ‘I regret eating healthy today.’ It is about making small changes and being very patient.”

If your new year’s goals include a healthier lifestyle, consider this local prep meal service. Find more about Happy Living Meal Prep on their Instagram account @happylivingmealprep

NOEMI GONZALEZ On Playing Suzette Quintanilla On Selena: The Series




By Cody Downey T:@codyalexdowney

Editorial artwork by Vince Trupsin

Character photos courtesy of Netflix

Raised in Coachella Valley, California, Noemi Gonzalez began to sing to handle the struggles of life. Thanks to the dedication of her teacher, she joined her school’s choir, which eventually took her to New Orleans.

“The first time that I was on a plane, the first time that I went to another state was to this beautiful, creative place of New Orleans,” she said. “That was before Katrina happened, so it was incredible to have this richness of culture and music and artistry and to sing there with my choir.”

As she went back home and continued singing, she was soon brought down a different path thanks to something a friend told her.

“My girlfriend Gina said, ‘I love to hear you sing and watch you sing because it’s like you are telling a story. It’s like you are acting.’ That’s when acting came into the field of vision for me and my plane of consciousness to consider it as something I could do,” she said.


Though not sure if this was her true path, she went to the University of California in Santa Barbara with the plan of being a music teacher like the one who inspired her. However, in an Intro to Acting class, she auditioned for the school’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program and joined their acting conservatory pushing her to fully pursue acting.

“I say acting found me,” she said. “I just remember being in that program knowing that I wanted to keep acting even if it was in the theater if it was in New York if it was in commercials or films. God willing, I just knew that I wanted to keep acting.”

Now, Gonzalez is awaiting the release of her latest project “Selena: The Series,” that comes on Netflix on December 4th. Retelling the true and tragic tale of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla, the series presents a story close to the hearts of many Mexican Americans, like Gonzalez herself. But, for this self-described “first-generation Mexican-American immigrant from humble roots,” the project is an honor that her career has been building toward.

In the series, Gonzalez plays Suzette Quintanilla, sister of Selena, and a part of their band Selena y los Dinos as a drummer. Through the process of her casting, Gonzalez had to show off her acting chops, show her commitment to being in the role and perform a camera test. Upon getting approval from the Quintanilla family members, who serve as executive producers on the series, Gonzalez was officially given the part and got to work.

“I started drumming August 16th and then three weeks from that we were supposed to film. So, I started learning 50 songs of hers,” she said. “It was definitely a severe, professional leveling up and challenge to live up to creatively, spiritually, professionally.”

Along with the musical aspect of the role, Gonzalez had to work with a dialect coach to get the overall essence of who Suzette was during the period she was being portrayed in. The role also came with some creative challenges as there was not much material of Suzette prior to the loss of Selena.

“It was nice to have some creative license of filling in the gaps of who Suzette was before this tragedy happened,” she said. “It was so much fodder for artistry and craftsmanship, and it was so much fun to recreate a life based on something I already had to pull from.”

With working on this project that is important not only to the fans of Selena but also to the Quintanilla family, Gonzalez said that she leaned on God, Selena’s music, and the people she worked with.

“Whenever I felt stressed, I would listen to her music and would be brought right back to the light that is Selena, that is Selena y los Dinos, that is the Quintanilla family,” she said. “I definitely had to make sure that I was always centered and based in reality but not overwhelmed by it.”

Along with that, there was the pressure that came with COVID-19 that affected the filming of the project, which had to shut down and then return to be filmed under restrictions.

“It’s just been an experience to go through this while being a part of a show that meant so much to me that I didn’t know whether or not it was going to pick up again,” she said.

A major aspect of “Selena: The Series” is that it is a Latino story told with Latinos on camera and behind the camera. Gonzalez said that the industry has changed a lot since she started for stories about Latinos and stories about people of color.

“Yes, we have more work to do. The work will never stop but we’re not watching paint dry. We are adding to the mural as changes continue in the industry,” she said. “I want to stay positive and grateful and not at all cynical, jaded, or callous or bitter about where we could be.”

As we move into 2021, Gonzalez says that despite not knowing what the future may hold, she wants to live out life to the fullest when everything comes back to normal.

“I want to honor that we went through this experience together and channel everything that we’ve been through in 2020 and 2019 to my next jobs and my next presentations publicly so that I can serve my community and that I could serve my artistry so that nothing shakes my course, nothing shakes my drive, my zest for life and my love of connecting with people through my work,” she said.

Latinas to Vote

Latinas to Vote

By Staff

Click aqui para español- >Latinas al voto

The Latino community is growing exponentially, and this growth requires thoughtful, inclusive, and accountable participation in the creation of policies that improve the quality of life of the immigrant population. The Hispanic vote is necessary. Policies that support immigration depend on the vote of Latinos who understand the needs of immigrants and who can be the voice of the many residents of this country who cannot vote, yet still contribute to the development of this nation.

Around 32 million Latinos are eligible to vote this year in the United States. This number is large enough to democratically create an impact that reflects changes for the community and Latino generations to come.


The mobilization of women is fundamental for the upcoming elections. Latinas are expected to play a leading role in this presidential race. According to the Pew Research, 55% of women who were eligible to vote cast their ballots in the 2018 midterm elections in November, compared to 51% of men. Hispanics were also found to have a gender gap in voting preference, with 73% of Hispanic women and 63% of Hispanic men backing Democratic candidates for Congress.

The New York Times called the Latino population “the sleeping giant” because the vast majority of Latino citizens eligible to vote still do not exercise this right, thus giving others the power to decide on issues that affect the community.

The Latino vote depends on the participation of women in this democratic process. “The role that Latinas play in our communities and our families is that of our matriarchs, they are the glue that holds our families and communities together,” said Stephanie Valencia, co-founder, and president of EquisLabs.


Latinos in Louisiana.


The Latino population eligible to vote in Louisiana is 107.000, according to Pew Research, which represents 3.1% of the electoral force. And, although for some, this figure may be small, it could make a big difference in decisions like reforms and the creation of more inclusive policies that involve the immigrant community in the state of Louisiana.

Noting the big voting gap between men and women, it is important that women in the state of Louisiana get involved and to learn about the importance of voting. In many cases, women are the head of the household, they are community leaders, so when a woman commits to civic representation, her impact goes beyond her vote because she is very likely to encourage voting among family members, friends, and neighbors.

Issues such as education, health care, and immigration reform are of great concern to immigrant women, and although the voting rate for Latina women tends to be lower than that of other racial groups, their mobilizing force is inherent. “We believe that they [Latinas] will not only vote but will also organize and engage those around them to vote as well,” said Valencia.

According to a study by Christina Bejarano, professor of Gender Studies at Texas Woman’s University in Dallas, Latina women, compared to their male peers, tend to have higher levels of education, pay more attention to politics, and have higher naturalization rates in the country.

Regardless of the candidate or the political party you support, do not forget that a political discussion isn’t worth it if there are no solid foundations for your claims, or if there is no further action.


Even if you cannot vote, you can educate, inform, and encourage those who can vote to exercise their right. By being informed and getting politically active, even if you cannot vote, you are indirectly helping find more support for reforms that can affect your immigration status, health care, and the education of your children.

Karrie Martin: FROM LA TO L.A.

Karrie Martin: FROM LA TO L.A. 

By Cody Downey

Click aqui para español- > Karrie Martin de Louisiana a L.A.

From her time as a young girl, Karrie Martin was a fan of the arts from watching television shows and movies to being a dancer. However, until she went to college, she never thought of being an artist as a possible way of life.

“When I went to LSU, truly, I didn’t even realize that you could pursue a career in acting,” Martin said. “My sisters and I always joked that it was the chosen ones that would get it.”

Her interest peaked though when she found out that one of her sorority sisters was in the theater program. Martin then decided to take some acting classes off-campus and discovered how much she loved it. “Although I didn’t pursue full-time until I graduated college, it was something that just brightened my day,” she said. “It gave me a new outlet of expression that I truly loved.”

Martin’s newfound love of acting would take her to Los Angeles and eventually take her into the lead role of Ana Morales in the Netflix Original Series “Gentefied.” Before moving to Los Angeles, Martin had lived her whole life in Louisiana. Born into a family of Honduran Americans who was raised in the South, she said that she always felt that she had her family and culture around her. According to Martin, her parents were her first real role models. “They always gave us that sense that we could be whoever and do whatever we wanted and set our minds to as long as we worked hard,” she said.

The decision to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting was very difficult because of her strong connection to family. “I think it was that move which I did with my sister, who is also an actress, that made it so much easier,” she said. “You want that grounding feeling all the time and always around you.”

Martin said that the move helped her get outside of the bubble that she lived in and discover who she was as a person and actor. “I grew up in L.A. essentially,” she said. “My formative years were definitely there.”

A couple of years into her move to Los Angeles, Martin started to work as an intern at Betty Mae Casting to learn about what to do in the auditioning room. Through her time as a casting assistant, she helped cast for numerous films such as “Creed II,” “Troop Zero,” “Dolemite Is My Name” and “Bad Boys for Life.” 

According to Martin, her knowledge of film and television helped her in the position allowing for her to bring up actors her peers may have not heard of. “That became a really fun process for me to bring in actors that they hadn’t seen or wouldn’t have otherwise seen if I hadn’t thrown that name out,” she said. “It became a really awesome collaborative effort on a lot of projects that I was able to do.”

In terms of translating her work in casting to her work in acting, Martin said the experience helped change the way she approached going into an audition. “From the little bits and pieces that I would take from actors I had been admiring all my life, getting to read with them in the room, that was beyond educational for me,” she said. “It changed my confidence in the room just seeing how the other actors, who had been working forever, approached the audition. They completely took control of the room and took their time as opposed to coming in with so much anxiety.”

Though Martin loved casting work, she made it clear that she was an actor first. During this time, she had done one episode of roles on television series such as “Pretty Little Liars” and “The Purge.” However, her big break would come with “Gentefied.” After being passed on for a role, she was brought back in by the casting director, who she had made friends with, to audition for “Gentefied.” Martin received a call back within a week and felt like the environment presented was one she wanted to be a part of.

“I left and remember calling my sister and saying, ‘All I want is to be their friend.’ I had never been in such a welcoming room like that,” she said. “I loved their energy and that was the same energy that they had on set from the auditioning process to the last day we filmed.”

“Gentefied” follows a trio of cousins who work to help their grandfather hold onto his taco business in an ever-changing neighborhood. Martin’s character of Ana is also an artist who must contend with her disapproving mother, her activist girlfriend, and working to have her art appreciated.

The series marks Martin’s first time as a lead in a series, which she admitted was intimidating at first. However, as filming continued, she said that she knew that set was where she was meant to be. “I just felt really at ease with the character that is so opposite from who I am as a person,” she said. “The environment that was created was so incredibly safe and felt like a safe space to work in that it made the whole process incredibly rewarding and much more simple to fall into the character when I never walked in her shoes.”

Despite her differences from Ana, Martin found ways to incorporate aspects of herself while still playing this character. One way she connected with the character was how Ana kept her cousins and grandfather together despite the conflicts they face. “I am the oldest of four children, so I feel like that was something that always came easy for me,” she said. “There are little nuances that I bring to Ana without even realizing it but she is so well written that you just fall into it whether you relate to them completely or you have to take one little thing and run with it.” 

Being a Latina actress in L.A., Martin said that the fact that she didn’t have to have an accent for the audition was huge for her since that is usually the expectation. “I remember even in the makeup room one of my makeup girls was born and raised in the East L.A. area and she sounded just like me. She was like ‘That is such a stereotype because I sound like you and I was raised in this environment,’ she said. “It is definitely a stereotype that gets placed on Latinos based on region.”

“I didn’t even realize that you could pursue a career in acting. My sisters and I always joked that it was the chosen ones that would get it.”

In hoping to continue this three-dimensional way of presenting Latinos, Martin said that the key is not being afraid to tell your story. According to her, this was something she began to think about after living in California and talking with her castmates. “We’re like everybody else. There is no difference; we’re just a little tanner,” she said. “We should be leading roles.” 

As she moves on in her career, Martin said that she has been taking things one step at a time. According to her, “Gentefied” is preparing to get back in production soon for season two. Along with this, she has also been auditioning for other projects.

However, for Martin just like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rollercoaster of different emotions. Before the shutdown of most operations, Martin had traveled back home to visit her family. “It was so sweet to be back home with my family and have that positivity around me,” she said. “But, even us being home, all together it is six of us, so we were like ‘We are going to go stir crazy here.’” 

Though she has grown through her time in Los Angeles, Martin is prideful of the way her parents taught her to be proud of who she was no matter what. “I’m so proud of the way my parents brought us up to know that we have value and are worth being the leads in our own stories,” she said. “I am very proud to be able to represent the Honduran-American culture on this show even though I play a Mexican.”

*Karrie Martin plays Ana Morales in the  Netflix Original series “Gentefied,” a comedy-drama series based on the online digital-short of the same name. Created by Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, the series has been produced and directed by Ugly Betty star America Ferrera.



An Alternative for Many Families After the

Coronavirus Outbreak

By Dayhanna Velandia

Click aqui para español- >Aprendizaje en casa.

Homeschooling is the learning alternative that is becoming very common among parents who are concerned about the health and education of their children, and which has expanded further after the Coronavirus outbreak in early 2020. This independent learning option allows children to learn in a flexible and personalized way, according to the needs and interests of each student and each family.

Since the pandemic and social changes in our society began to affect mainly the education and interaction of our children, one of the issues that worries me the most, as a mother, is the implementation of certain rules in schools, which make me take into account other learning options and exploring the world of learning at home.

Homeschooling is the education of school-age children (ages 5 to 17) in a grade equivalent to at least kindergarten and not above grade 12, who receive instruction at home, rather than in a public or private school, all, or most of the time. In the past, this technique has been used mostly by Catholic and Christian families who were looking to base their children’s learning on the implementation of the Bible; however, there are now many more programs that don’t necessarily follow this basis. The various guides available for homeschooling are attracting many more people to choose to homeschool because it allows them the flexibility to create unique learning processes and rules.

The first thing I did to access more information was to connect through social networks and groups of parents with experience in homeschooling on Facebook. I noticed that, like me, there are hundreds of parents with the same everyday concerns. The most common questions are: how to start? what should I teach? What is the curriculum? How many hours will I dedicate to the day? How do I organize my activities? How is the learning progress validated? and many others.

Here I’ll try to solve some of these basic questions and hopefully, clear your doubts. The steps are simple:

 How to start teaching at home?

  1. I recommend you make the decision that is best for your family and your child through your philosophy and curriculum. Depending on the age and grade to which the student is entering, there are multiple web pages that facilitate topics and activities. Talking about this with our children and explaining the fundamental reason why you learn each topic is important, so everyone agrees and understands the learning goals.
  2. Once you are convinced, you must officially withdraw your child from the private or public school program through an application or letter to the state.
  3. Designate and arrange an appropriate space for the development of school activities.
  4. Connect with other parents who can give you tips and options for group learning.

 What am I going to teach? What is a curriculum?

Just like a traditional school, there are programs designed for learning development, which can vary according to the interests of each student. These programs are the curriculum. I have found options online, and according to the curriculum chosen, you can purchase textbooks and materials to follow that specific curriculum.

I also realized that some children learn more by creating and doing things; others through reading or talking to people. When choosing your homeschool curriculum, you should keep these preferences in mind when exploring learning styles such as visual, auditory, and learning through physical activities and experiences.

You may also need to consider whether your child is right-brain dominant when choosing the curriculum, as this hemisphere is in charge of developing creativity and art.

 How to organize time and scheduling activities?

One of the methods most used by home educators is that of creating weekly programs with flexible hours. A record of all activities must be kept. Some programs use more hours of activities than others, and it all depends on the pace that each student and educator want to follow. It is very helpful to post a schedule that’s visible to everyone at home with activities divided by hours. This way, if there are parents who must be absent, the children will know what to do during each specific time frame.

Hours vary according to the age and grade of the student. “We recommend that true home school students spend between one and two hours a day during the elementary years, two or three hours a day for middle school, and three or four hours a day for high school” says Jessica Parnell, executive director of Edovate Learning Corp and program of homeschooling Bridgeway Academy.

The point is, while your children may be in school six or more hours a day, they don’t spend all their time listening to academic instruction. You should also keep in mind that to give him a complete education and not stop the socialization process of your children, you may need to join other parents and look for socialization activities, field trips, or tutors that help strengthen the socialization processes.

 How are homeschoolers evaluated?

Parents must submit an annual notice to the Louisiana Department of Education and must include a packet of materials or an assessment (by standardized test or portfolio assessment) with the notice of each subsequent year. Approval can be denied if a child is not making adequate progress. Parents must offer 180 days of instruction and provide a “quality sustained curriculum at least equal to that offered by public schools.” There are no parenting or accountability requirements.

Home educators in Louisiana do not have specific graduation requirements. Parents are fully responsible for deciding on the appropriate courses and choosing the credits assigned to them. We also determine our own criteria for when the high school student is ready to receive a diploma.

If you are interested in the homeschooling alternative for your children, you can contact local organizations and support groups to better understand the process. Fortunately, there is a lot of information circulating and the communities of parents who use this method are getting bigger every day.

 If you have doubts or want to find more information, visit the links shown in the following chart.

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