Living on the Edge

A much needed, heart-warming story about The American Dream as seen through the eyes of Colombian native and Lola’s Marketing Specialist, Carolina. (It’s a little long but worth it ;))

Anna

Have you ever watched a series that keeps you on the edge of your seat? Welcome to my life. That’s pretty much what I experience every day. I’m Carolina, the Marketing Specialist at Lola Hair Studio. I was born and raised in Colombia, where it’s always 68°F, and the sun rises and sets at the same hour every day. I miss that. 

After finishing college in Colombia, like many other post-grads, I didn’t like my job. I came to the US to do my master’s in business. I thought I would come to the US, study for a year, and then return home. Spoiler alert, that wasn’t the case. I’m still here after three years and loving it. 

I attended the Hult International Business school. That’s where I met Ronit Enos, my fairy godmother. She’s a mentor for the MIB and MIM program at Hult.  Oh, and one of the best ladies I have ever met.

Fast forward, and I’ve finished my degree. But wait, the school offered me a scholarship to do a Masters in Marketing? How could I turn this down? Well, even though the school thought I was worthy of free education, my landlord wasn’t thrilled with the idea of giving me a free apartment. Weird, right? So, I asked mom and dad for help and worked four jobs to pay the bills. And you know what? I loved that tiny basement apartment fifteen minutes from the Prudential Building. 

Turns out, working four jobs isn’t easy. I was losing steam. I reached out to Ronit to seek advice. I told her about my situation, and she mentioned one of her clients needed a part-time front desk receptionist. “YES! I’ll TAKE IT!” That job was mine! 

My next angel on earth I met is Anna. All it took was one rendition of “Call Me” by Blondie, and I was immediately inaugurated into the Lola Family. I started working at Lola in August 2019. This was supposed to be a short-term gig. You see, I had side businesses with some friends from school, Sixpence. That was meant to be my ticket from rags to riches. When we lost our funding, I asked Anna if I could start working full time, and she agreed.

I’m working at Lola on an Optional Training Program visa. That means the government extended my student visa for a year. As soon as I finish the program, I have different options. Go home (not yet, thank you), get married to an American (tall, dark & handsome men - call me), keep studying (I’m all set, I’ve done my time), or get a working visa (I’ll take that one, thanks!). But, it is not as easy as it sounds. I was left asking myself, “Is living in the USA really worth it?” Unsure if I would be able to “make it” here, my Lola co-workers gave me the support, encouragement, and family-unit I so greatly needed. I found a new family, and I knew if I stayed here, I would not be alone. Anna reaffirmed she would support me on the visa and that I was a key piece of Lola’s operation. 

Right now, we’re focusing our efforts on keeping everyone safe and healthy. We’re counting down the days until the salon returns to its pre-COVID glory. But we’re patient, and we know it will happen.

I’m honored to be able to say I am living my own “American Dream.” Life is hard for new immigrants. We all come to the US searching for something. I was lucky enough to find it. Don’t get me wrong; I love my country and Latin America. I love my culture, my language, and my food! I will have a safe and comfortable life if I go back to Colombia. But here… here is the country of freedom. Here I can dream, and I know if I work hard enough, my dreams will come true. 

So, we started the visa process so I can continue my dream. We contacted lawyers who said they would take on my case. Everything was going smoothly until the lawyers told me that my salary doesn't match the government's minimum to get a visa. While I panicked, cool, calm, and collective, Anna offered me a promotion. Remember when I said she was an angel?  

So, we applied. Now, this is no easy process. Obtaining a visa essentially has two main parts. First, you enter a lottery with 200,000 others, and they choose 65,000 to evaluate if they meet the requirements to get a visa. We were supposed to know the results at the end of March, but then COVID-19 hit. My parents, worried about me, asked me to come home. But since I have an immigration process open, I can't leave the country. Besides, Colombian authorities closed the airport and, essentially, its borders with the rest of the world. That's ok, though, because you see, I never really wanted to leave. 

Just remember “you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.”

Note from Anna:  

I’ve talked to you before about how I feel as though the angels or universe sends me things and Carolina is no exception.  Throughout this process, there have been times where I thought, “What did I get myself into?” but we made it through every obstacle and grew stronger from it.  Carolina has been such an important part of where Lola is going next.  She has been helping Lola develop in ways I couldn’t imagine or do on my own.  She’s been a friend, an amazing employee, a challenger, and a student.  When she first came to Lola, she wanted a mentor and I thought, “I don’t know but I’ll try”!  I hope I can give her things she can always take with her. 

To be continued…

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