Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic and Latina Women

Book review by Vicky Garza
The Austin Times Staff

In her new book, Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic & Latina Women, Laura Contreras-Rowe presents the challenge “Why be average when you can be extraordinary?”

Contreras-Rowe is no stranger to adversity. She went from living in a small 2-bedroom trailer home in her grandparents’ backyard to becoming a successful author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur. She challenges everyone to be whoever they want to be in life through a positive attitude, faith, and hard work.

The author spent the last year interviewing Latinas with whom she felt a unique sisterhood with and hopes that their stories will inspire others to realize they have the ganas to follow their dreams. She was motivated to write this book after a group of female high school basketball players in East Los Angeles fell silent when asked to name a female Hispanic or Latina role model.

Aim High features the stories of 33 amazing women from different backgrounds and diverse circumstances from all over the country who made their dreams a reality. These are Latina women who overcame the odds to become registered nurses, dentists, university deans, coaches, writers, artists, drag racers, and television personalities. Many of these women credit their success back to mentors, instructors, hard work, determination, and education. Many of these women grew up in an abusive or single-parent household, surrounded by gangs, drugs, and violent crime, or in a new country, but none of these women would ever consider themselves a victim or let their past define who they are.

Some are nationally recognizable, such as celebrity chef Laura Diaz (“Chef Lala”), comedian Anjelah Johnson, drag racer Erica Ann Ortiz, author Stephanie Elizondo Griest, IndyCar driver Milka Duno, and Fox Business Network anchor Rebecca Gomez Diamond. Diamond, who co-hosts the Fox Business ‘Happy Hour’ show, joined a gang at 13 years old, but managed to avoid becoming a teenage mother on welfare. Other women, such as Frances Crespo, Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Navy, and attorney Aurelia Flores, became successful despite the challenge of being a teenage mother.

One woman who has managed to continue on despite having all odds against her is Evelina Solis. A certified life coach and inspirational speaker, Solis, at age 26, suffered from a golf ball-sized pulmonary embolism and then, 2 years later, found out that she had two relatively rare autoimmune diseases. This past year, she was hospitalized with complications from Lupus and subsequently suffered three seizures. Despite all her setbacks, Solis is still going strong and has realized the importance of faith, family, and friends.

Alma Morales Riojas, President and CEO of MANA, a National Latina Organization, grew up so poor in San Antonio, Texas that her uncle would rewrap a blue fountain pen for her Christmas gift. She had to start working at only 11 years old, but that experience made her realize the importance of education, because she did not want to wash dishes for the rest of her life.  Along with her story, each women shares her favorite quote, some wonderful advice, and lists the organizations that she champions. Through the stories of these 33 strong, brave, generous, adaptable, and ambitious women who have overcome so much to attain their dreams, Contreras-Rowe does a beautiful job of inspiring those who read this book to follow their dreams despite the setbacks and challenges they may face.

Posted by admin on Jan 13th, 2010 and filed under Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

2 Responses for “Aim High: Extraordinary Stories of Hispanic and Latina Women”

  1. Jesse Torres says:

    I commend Laura Contreras-Rowe for producing this book. It is important to ensure that our kids have the appropriate role models.

    One Latina that she unfortunately failed to include is one that was sitting in East L.A.’s backyard. Romana Acosta Banuelos was born in Miami, Arizona in 1925. She and her immigrant family were “invited” to return to Mexico in 1933 during the Great Depression.

    Romana returned to the U.S. in the 1940s and started Ramona’s Mexican Food Products in Los Angeles. Laterin in 1964, she founded Pan American Bank in East Los Angeles for the purpose of serving the underserved Lationo community. In 1971 she wasa appointed the first Latino Treasurer of the United States under President Nixon.

    Her bank just celebrated 45 years in East Los Angeles. The Bank is California’s oldest Latino-owned bank and the second oldest in the United States. It remains the only bank headquartered in East Los Angeles.

    Jesse Torres
    President and CEO
    Pan American Bank
    East Los, CA 90063

  2. You see, in life, loads of people realize what to complete, but very few people truly do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You have got to take action

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