Interview by Jacqueline Manetta
Name: Rosie Manetta
Occupation: Certified Public Accountant
Where you grew up: Richmond Hill, Queens, New York
// What was it like growing up as a Hispanic woman?
Growing up as a Hispanic woman was gratifying and challenging at the same time. At times, I was proud to show my ethnicity, but there were times that I felt like I wanted to blend in and hide my ethnicity.
// Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your ethnicity?
I wouldn’t say I was discriminated against, but I definitely felt different, especially going to grade school in a predominantly white environment. Everyone around me seemed to have and know more than I did because they were not a child of an immigrant.
// Have you ever felt discriminated against because of your gender?
I can’t pick out a specific incident, but in general, I feel that men and women are looked upon differently. I’ve seen men getting positions at work that a woman is clearly more qualified for.
// What is the biggest struggle you have faced as a woman?
The biggest struggle I have ever faced was being a child of an immigrant. Being a child of an immigrant forced me to grow up much faster than my peers. I became responsible for my mother, who did not speak English, at a very young age. I would have to go to every doctor and school appointment with her to interpret what was being said. This responsibility robbed me of my childhood and continues to go on today.
// How did you overcome this struggle?
In my teenage years, I overcame this struggle by surrounding myself with people who faced similar struggles and could, therefore, better understand my life. We ended up being each other’s emotional support system.
// Explain a time in your life when you felt strong.
A time I felt strong was when I graduated from college. This might seem like a normal accomplishment to some people, but to me, it meant so much more –– because I was the first woman –– let alone the first person to even attend college in my family and graduate.
// Explain a time in your life when you felt defeated.
A time in my life when I felt defeated was during my early high school years when I knew my goal was to go to college to better myself, and I wanted the same for my brothers. However, I felt helpless not being able to motivate them to attend college.
// How do the obstacles you have faced in your life help build the womxn you are today?
They have helped me to be a compassionate, strong woman who fears absolutely nothing and is very goal-oriented. It's the obstacles in my life that have motivated me to make things easier for the next generation in my family.
// Who is your biggest role model and why?
My biggest role model is my dad. He faced unimaginable obstacles, such as poverty –– being raised by a single mother with a language barrier –– yet he was able to achieve the American dream. He came to the United States with 4 dollars in his pocket, no family, and worked in various factories before he decided to spend his small life savings on a dream that ended up being quite successful. It is his hard work that taught me that nothing is impossible and that you can achieve quite literally anything you want. - GGH
CONNECTIVITY CONTRIBUTORS REACTIONS
When reading about Rosie’s story, I could relate to her in many ways. I, too, am a child of an immigrant, and her biggest struggle is somewhat of a struggle for me as well. Fortunately, I have a sister with whom we could both share the responsibility when it comes to our parents. We both have gone to places (appointments with doctors, schools, etc) to interpret for them. It is something we both still do very much.
I also relate to Rosie in her connection to her family and her role model. My dad is my biggest role model. He is such a hardworking person, lovable, funny, and just overall great. He has always wanted the best for my sister and me, working from job to job, and still making the best out of every situation. His hardworking self is what makes me want to work as hard as he does because, at one point in my life, I want to give back to him. I want him to be able to relax and not have to go from job to job anymore. He has given me so much in life, and I want to be able to give that back to him and my mom. They are both incredibly important in my life, and many of the things I do are because of them and for them.
Rosie mentioned that she overcame the struggle of having to deal with such a huge responsibility of her parents from a young age by surrounding herself with people struggling with the same thing – this is something that I have wanted to have for myself for a long time. I got pretty close to getting this emotional support system before COVID-19 happened. There was a new organization on campus that was about and for Mexican students, which I LOVED and wanted to be part of so badly. I felt many of those students would understand me in many ways, however, because of the chaos, I did not get a chance to connect with them. One of the main reasons I joined GGH is to find others like me because I am sure there is someone out there that can relate to me in some way.