Yahaira Rose

Yahaira Rose

A single visit to Ohio State inspired Yahaira Rose to become a Buckeye. In 1992, after graduating high school, she left her hometown of Yauco, Puerto Rico for Columbus, Ohio – moving to the city without knowing any English. Through ESL classes at Columbus State, she learned the language while working and matriculating to Ohio State. Rose continues to balance work and school as she pursues her PhD in Organizational Psychology and directs the Martin de Porres Center and Proyecto Mariposas [Project Butterfly].

After graduating from Ohio State, with her bilingual skills in tow, Rose worked at Alliance Data as a bilingual customer service representative. This job started her interest in leadership development and teaching. While working for the company, she remotely completed a Master’s Degree in Leadership Development at University of Colorado, Denver. After working for Alliance Data for fourteen years, a want to become directly involved with the community inspired Rose to begin work with Proyecto Mariposas and the Martin de Porres Center.

These two organizations speak to Rose’s passion for development and community. Proyecto Mariposas (established by Rose in 2011) seeks to bring Latina mothers and daughters together to learn, develop and foster Latina culture through programs and enriching activities. Yahaira Rose’s story and that of Proyecto Mariposas is a perfect example of the work many do to retain their language and culture while continuing to learn and grow in their particular community.

From Yauco, Puerto Rico to Columbus, Ohio:

🎧 Listen (3:00)
“[To not get an] education was not an option in my family. It’s something… whatever you decide just make sure that it is the best. So I decided to come here and then in July of 1992, came all the way here, not knowing any English, not knowing anything and came and came and stayed with my brother to go to Ohio State.”
“A lot of people moved in the ’40s and in the ’50s – they came looking for jobs from Puerto Rico and that’s kind of how migration happened. When I talked to a lot of the families around the community it’s just someone has been here because their grandparents have come here or someone else has come here some other way.”

A new city and new language:

🎧 Listen (2:38)
“I kind of isolated myself from anything that was Spanish so I could learn English… In my ESL class, I had people from Bangladesh… from India… from Iran… from Africa. So it was my first contact with all this diversity. It was amazing to learn from that culture and build a little bit of community that way.”
Proyecto Mariposas
Proyecto Mariposas

Proyecto Mariposas [Project Butterfly] emerges:

🎧 Listen (2:08)
“[To start this project] I met with a few of the moms and the girls and I asked them, ‘What is something I can help you with?’ – and this was at a church – and all they said was, ‘I need help with my daughter… to help her become better in school, help more with the culture, and to be more connected with her.'”

Creating cultural and creative experiences for Latina youth:

🎧 Listen (3:13)
“[In the beginning], it was constant reading and constant research to find out how to meet the needs for these moms… I think it was in year two when we decided that our mission is to truly find balance in four areas: the physical, the mental, the spiritual, and the emotional.”
“If we have girls that are non-Latinas, we welcome them and we’ll translate anything that needs to be translated… We have some of them that are starting to speak Spanish in the middle of it.”
Yahaira Rose stands in front of the Martin de Porres Center – where she currently works as director.

A Puerto Rican, a Boricua, & a Latina:

🎧 Listen (2:14)
Latina... I love that word Latina. I love how it sounds. I love what it comes with – it comes with so much power and it comes with so much strength.”
“When you start seeing true diversity around town and you start going to events where you see people that are like you… That’s when you start seeing home. Having Mariposas has helped me connect with all these people… I was looking through some of our [year end] final surveys… One of the people, said, ‘This project makes me feel secure and happy.’ [Another said], ‘It [Proyecto Mariposas] makes me feel accepted during times where the country is separated and discriminative.’ So when you have people saying things like this, you’re doing something right. You’re providing a community for these people.”


Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text are copyrighted to Leticia Wiggins. Music for introduction & interlude by The Original Soundtrack (thanks, guys!).

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