Reyna Noriega has been inducted as the very first honoree of #LatinasPavethePath. She got to this moment thanks to her family and ancestors paving the path for her to dream and thrive.
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As Reyna Noriega steps into Huacachina inside Oasis Wynwood in Miami to be honored as the very first Latinas Pave the Path honoree, presented by #WeAllGrow Latina and Nissan, she is followed by her family, who joined her to witness her crowning moment.
Upon greeting me, she says her abuelito might come as well, but she isn’t sure because he had been injured. However, that didn’t deter him, showing that not even an injury would make him miss being there for his granddaughter’s shining moment.
“Through all of their bravery,” says Reyna, “they’ve shown through their sacrifices and leaving what they had to in order to create a new life – that began the foundation for who I am today.”
And that is exactly why she is being honored as the very first Latinas Pave the Path honoree. Created by #WeAllGrow and Nissan, to celebrate Latina entrepreneurs, guests gather to celebrate the power of amigahood and success our community has created on its own terms. As a woman who has created her path on her own terms, it was incredible to have Reyna as honoree.
Reyna thanks her ancestors who have carved out a new way forward for her, allowing her to accomplish so much in her 29 years. As a multi-hyphenate Afro-Caribbean Latina visual artist, author, and creator, her work is crafted as a love letter to women of color, filling the spaces that have missed the sazón de nuestra gente and filling the world with vibrant, joyful depictions of marginalized peoples.
“You guys are my artwork,” she shares with the Latinas Pave the Path audience as part of her acceptance speech after her crowning moment. “I feel like I already know you. My artwork is a representation of my culture, and you all embody that soulfully.”
Rooted in representing that culture is showing up as ourselves authentically and unapologetically, especially as children of immigrants and some being immigrants ourselves. We often feel like living in America, we have to work even harder to prove ourselves as worthy or deserving of this American dream, but that’s not what Reyna wants the community, who inspires her soul, to do.
“I see joy as being the goal after survival. When you come out of survival mode, you’re able to live abundantly.”Reyna Noriega
“A lot of the time we think that our lives have to be work work work, and have to prove that we deserve this American dream,” says Reyna to the audience. “I want to encourage you as a woman to show up fully as yourself, claim the rest that you deserve, claim the abundance that you deserve. Make as much as you can and create your paradise, through your home, through your personal style.”
Hustle culture is also something that we have had to unlearn. And most first gen kids are taking on the responsibility of breaking away from survival mode for themselves and their community and those who have paved the path for them to make their own American Dream.
“I see joy as being the goal after survival. When you come out of survival mode, you’re able to live abundantly,” shares Reyna when asked why joy is a central part of her work.
“A lot of times we think of [joy] financially, but I also think it is having the ability to just feel happy, feel like all of your needs are met. As I look around, people with similar backgrounds as me, that’s what’s kind of missing. Because there’s a lot of lack and a lot of barriers they have to constantly fight through to get where they want to be, versus just knowing that they deserve to be here, and they deserve to take up space.”
And taking up space is just what she’s been able to do, and she hopes to inspire other mujeres to do just as she has. She has collaborated with American Express, Warby Parker, and Old Navy, has been commissioned to grace the facade of Brookfield Place in NYC, and has even done a cover for The New Yorker – one that she calls “an illustrator’s dream.” She has also come out with a hair accessory line with Goody sold at Walmart’s nationwide that was gifted to our attendees at our Latinas Pave the Path brunch.
And with all those achievements, Reyna thanks her family and past generations who paved the path for her to thrive today, and she’s carrying that on for future generations.
“[In keeping] a strong sense of family, I always say that I’m able to dream, because most of my basic needs were taken care of, and I’ve always had a support system,” shares Reyna.
During her keynote conversation with Astrid Rivera, the conversation naturally transitioned to Reyna’s family, some of whom were in the audience. When asked what she wanted to say to her abuelito and abuelita. “Muchas gracias,” she said, holding back tears.
When Astrid asked Reyna’s grandma what they want to say to their granddaughter, her abuelita said, “estoy tan encantada con ella, es tan linda que no puedo decir más nada.”
When Astrid asked Reyna’s abuelito what Reyna meant to him, he said with tears, “everything.”
“I’ve always known that my family loves me and supports me. So, I’m able to imagine a future even brighter than that, that not only am I not hungry, and not houseless, but also, I’m happy, I’m at peace, and I can rest,” says Reyna. “And so, I think with them, building that strong foundation of love, more things can bloom there.”
Tell us how you pave your path, amiga! Head to our Instagram and share with us in the comments for a chance to win one of Reyna’s autographed journals!
About the Author
Priscilla Castro is #WeAllGrow’s Director of Digital Content & Partnerships. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her at @kodeofkondukt. Read more of Priscilla’s pieces here.