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Presence Voices: Hispanic Heritage Month with Andreina Roa

Andreina Roa joined Presence as a Clinical Recruiter in October 2020. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband.

What led you to your role at Presence?

My background is in psychology and behavior therapy. I have a master’s degree in psychology and I did behavior therapy for almost 3 years with children with autism. You have to put a lot of emotional energy into that work. I reached a point when I needed a break, and I decided to go into something that would be related to what I went to school for. But I wanted to go more into corporate or administration and chose recruiting and staffing.

Then when the pandemic hit in 2020, I got laid off. Presence was looking for clinical recruiters who had clinical experience and recruiting experience. I applied and that’s when I got hired.

How does your Hispanic heritage shape your values or choices?

I’m from Venezuela and Venezuela is a country whose people have been really resilient. We have learned how to overcome difficult situations with grace and happiness and seeing the light in the hard times. Sometimes it can be too much—we can be too happy. But we have learned to do that in the last 20 years of difficult times in the country. So I think that helps me to be resilient, and always find the light and be positive, and keep a smile on my face even in difficult times.

I think this attitude helps me a lot. In general, being Hispanic, usually you have to work double for things. And I have an accent so I have to show people I am smart, I can do it, I can make it. Actually Presence has been one of the places that I love, because even though I have been trying so hard to keep positive and believe in myself and believe that people are recognizing what I do and they don’t care about my accent, at the end of the day, everybody does.

But at Presence they haven’t made me feel that way. They always recognize me and treat me as a regular employee, and they have never made me feel that because I have an accent or because I have a different culture, that I can’t do my job. It is the opposite—they have been so supportive, and they have never, never made me feel less, or made me feel that I have to work double to get to a better place.

So I think that’s part of my Hispanic heritage. I have seen in my family that we are used to being resilient and working hard. We don’t care if we have to do the manual work. Whatever we need to do to be successful and be happy and get to our goal, we will do it. That’s what has shaped me, and that’s why I feel good achieving my goals and being focused because I’m coming from a country and from a culture where that’s what you are taught since you are born.

Can you talk about a time when your culture heritage made a difference in your career, or helped you to overcome a challenge?

What I was talking about before that I have learned from my culture—the resilience, looking at things in a positive way, and not caring about the amount of work that I have—has helped me with all the recent changes at Presence. We had many big things going on at once and many new people to integrate. Even though it was a challenging and very busy time, that resilience and positive attitude helped me manage all these projects and welcome, teach, and help everybody new.

Right now, for example, we’re in the peak season—we’re finding and hiring providers—we’re always looking for new providers. It’s always busy, and being in recruiting, everybody’s looking to you. You are the one getting all these people in the door. But I think that’s the fun part of it. I know I have to do this so let me work hard. I come from a culture where we know it’s hard but nothing is impossible so just go for it!

How long have you been in the US?

It has been 10 years since I came here. I came to study English first. Venezuela was going through a hard time—it has been going through a hard time the last 20+ years. I was in a city where kidnapping was pretty common—the security part was really bad.

I went to the University of Houston and I studied English for a year and a half. It was so fun. I met so many people in different cultures. I learned English and it was amazing. During that year my dad decided that they would move all my family, because the situation in Venezuela was getting worse and I couldn’t go back.

It was never my plan to stay here. The plan was to take some time, study, and then return to Venezuela —I’ll be bilingual and I’ll have a master’s degree from the US. So I continued studying and got my master’s. Then I met my husband who was living here. We married and live together here in Texas now.

How did you learn about National Hispanic Heritage month? Did you know about it?

I didn’t know anything about it four or five years ago. I learned about it from social media. People were talking about it. It’s Houston, Texas. It’s a huge mix here. I didn’t know people actually had special events or celebrations until I joined Presence. And they had these special things every couple of months and I didn’t even know they had a group for Latin employees. During my first year here, Presence had a presentation. I decided I would join because it sounded nice and then I learned more about it from there.

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