Isabel Bolivar   01 August 2018

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Miami is a cultural melting pot where Latinos of all backgrounds blend to create a wealth of culture and stories. Meet Clara Pablo. A Miami-raised music and marketing executive, Clara tells us her own personal story. Born in the Dominican Republic, hers is a story that shows strength, positivity and old-fashioned hard work are essential to achieving personal and professional success.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 and beating it, Clara made it her mission to spread awareness of the disease by sharing her experience with other young women. She has created a supportive community for women going through breast cancer, letting them know they’re not alone.

WorldRemit talked to Clara about her life as a Latina creative in Miami, her Dominican background, and how her personal battles and triumphs have impacted her message to women and Latinas everywhere.

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Hello Clara, please tell us a little about your background and about moving to the States.

I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic but moved to the United States when I was 10 with my family. We moved here over the summer and I was in elementary school. I remember my first day of school. I was so nervous. I just thought, even though I know English, they’re not going to understand me. It was so nerve-wracking, but I can't imagine how my life would’ve been if it wasn't for the opportunities that I've had living here.

How has being an immigrant impacted your life?

It taught me not to take anything for granted. I knew what it was like to go to sleep with no air conditioning and wake up with no electricity. I've seen extreme poverty in the streets growing up as a kid. After growing up in the Dominican Republic and coming here, I don't take anything for granted.

What’s most appealing about Miami to you?

Miami still feels like a Latin country to me and there are so many cultures here. I feel that if I was still in the Dominican Republic, I wouldn't know about the Venezuelan, Cuban or Colombian communities as much as I do living here. I’ve so many friends from so many different backgrounds and learned so much about so many different countries. It's because Miami is a melting pot. I'm very lucky to be exposed to that daily – professionally and personally.

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What or who inspires you personally and in your career?

I've always been intrigued by the television and music world. I love that with TV, I was able to create content that would affect people's lives and make them feel good. And when I was in the music industry I was a part of the process of creating music that would shape people’s lives. It's amazing. When you hear a song, it will take you back to a moment. The fact that I'm able to be a part of that is beautiful. Sometimes I feel like I'm not even working because I love what I do so much.

My work takes me away from my family and friends a lot, but I’m following my dreams. If my dad was able to move his whole family away from the Dominican Republic and go to a whole new country, so my sisters and I could have the best opportunities, I have to make him proud. I want to continue to grow to continue to make my parents proud, so they know that the sacrifice they made was worth it. My parents are my inspiration.

How has being Latina affected your professional persona and work ethic?

This goes back to the immigrant question. When things are handed to you on a silver platter you don't appreciate them so much. As a Latina, I’ve worked very hard to grow from the stigma – from being a Latina and being a woman. There are times, for example, when I go to Mexico and I’m the only woman in the boardroom. It's empowering, but at the same time, it's sad. I think that being a Latina immigrant has given me a little bit of an advantage in that I fight a little bit harder. But things are changing - because now Latinas are hot. Now in music, television and the movies, we aren’t seen as a minority, as much as we were before. We’re now seen as more of a commodity. It's finally paying off to be Latino.

Can you tell us about your illness and how it has led to your charitable efforts?

After the initial shock of being diagnosed with breast cancer, I started looking for somebody that I could relate to, but couldn’t find anybody. Unfortunately, I was young, I was under 40 with breast cancer and Latina. In our community we don't talk about breast cancer enough - I think it's a cultural thing. Maybe that's why breast cancer is the number one cause of death in Hispanic women under 40.

I couldn’t believe there was no voice for us. After telling others I had breast cancer, women I know started telling me they’d gone through it as well, but they’d gone through it alone, which I found shocking. I started going to them in secret and asking them questions.

Then I really wanted to spread the word about what I was going through. With a pretty decent following and lots of friends to help, I shared my message and spread awareness. I wanted people to know that you don’t have to be 50 or 60 to get breast cancer. You can get it at a young age. And if you do get it, you're not alone. So many women reach out to me daily, telling me they have cancer, it’s so sad. But it’s also been a way for me to create a community where we have each other's backs. It's been a beautiful experience.

I created a campaign called the Te Toca Tocarte campaign. Every month I post a selfie with my hand over my breast and I tag two other women, and they tag two other women. Every month we're creating awareness and starting a conversation on social media, as this is where women under 40 live. It's been amazing how many women have seen these pictures and reached out to me saying they got a mammogram, or that they did a self-exam and found a lump they went to get checked. I’ll talk to whoever will listen because if we can save just one woman's life, that’s amazing.

What’s your message to fellow Latinas and Hispanic immigrants with similar aspirations and/or facing similar challenges to yours?

The first message is “Te Toca Tocarte.” Immigrants are such a controversial subject right now and the word ‘immigrant’ seems to have such a negative connotation, but it shouldn’t. ‘Immigrant’ should be synonymous with ‘fighter’. Immigrants are here because we're all fighting to be better, to do better, to have a better life. We should be proud of being an immigrant and we should be proud of how far we've come. The fact that you’re able to pick up your things and leave the country of your birth to find a better life? That takes balls. And if you’re able to do that, you can do anything else. Use that as your drive to achieve your dreams.

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Do you or your family send money to the Dominican Republic? If so, how often and why is this important?

I don't, but my family does. It's important because even though you’re here, you have family in the country where you were born. If they need help, there needs to be a safe way to offer that help. It’s important to have a safe, fast and convenient means of doing that.

Customers can save $100 a year by sending with WorldRemit vs Western Union. How far would $100 go in the Dominican Republic?

It would go very, very far. Even $5 there is a lot.

What advice would you give to young Latinas today?

We have two things against us: we’re women and we’re Latinas. I made a social post yesterday about us being queens, and not letting anybody convince us that we’re not. We're always going to be looked at as an immigrant, whether we were born here or not. If you're Latina, you’re an immigrant. We have those two things going against us. But those are the things that also make us powerful. So, don’t let what others see be your weakness. Let that be your strength and let that continue to push you forward to follow your dreams. And don't let anybody ever make you feel inferior because of who you are.

BONUS ROUND: Say the first thing that comes to mind when we say...

Latina:

Powerful

Immigrant:

Dreamer

Heritage:

Proud

American Dream:

Goal

Remittance:

I think of Adri… my friend who works with WorldRemit!

#WhyWeWork:

To make our parents proud.

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