Amarelis Martinez was born during one of the most devastating storms in recent memory. The category 5 tempest, Hurricane Hugo, robbed Puerto Rico of electrical power. Martinez’s mother gave birth in a lightless and waterless hospital room with nineteen other women while the hurricane raged on outside. Her birth, Martinez suggests, set the tone for the rest of her life. She can go without much and still make it – head first.
A broom in constant motion and the consummate jingling of store bells accompanied Martin Noriega. He was busy sweeping the floor at Estetica Ivette Salon when we first arrived at his North Side business. Ivette is his mother, the salon Noriega’s gift to her. Once finished at the salon, Noriega dashed next door to answer phone calls and stock the shelves of his newest endeavor – a small Mexican styled grocery store. During our visit, he continued darting between the brick and mortar realities of Noriega’s decade long dream to one day own a business.
As an energetic kid with a penchant for science and math, Nathali Bertran dreamt of building a spaceship and visiting the moon. Her current job isn’t lightyears away from this either. She now builds more terrestrial machines as a design engineer for Honda R&D Americas in Raymond, Ohio. In addition to engineering cars, Bertran is also part of a team working to streamline and simplify the process of applying for DACA (that’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status that allows recipients to attend public universities and garner U.S. work authorization.