by Lina Ortiz
YWCA of Central Orange County
I am a Latina who has been working to help the young women of Beverly’s House at the YWCA of Central Orange County since 2006. I assist the young women by providing academic and employment guidance. Working for the YWCA as a Latina has been a unique experience. Although being bilingual has been important in my experiences working with clients, being bi-cultural has had more of an impact. During the six years I have been working for the YWCA, I have met many young women that identify with Latino culture on different levels. As the only Latina staff member, I feel a great sense of joy helping these young women celebrate their Latino heritage by, for example, introducing Latino cuisine during our Sunday dinners or holiday dinners, or exposing them to great Latino artists such as Fernando Botero or the literary works of Isabel Allende.
As a Latina working at the YWCA, I am able to be a model of both American and Latino values. I believe in the American dream wholeheartedly – that if you work hard enough, you can be anything you want to be. I am a Mexican immigrant; I struggled a lot in school as a child, but I worked hard and earned good grades. I also know a lot of the challenges these young women have faced while growing up, such as having an unstable household and struggling financially. I have worked hard and persevered, despite setbacks, to pursue my dream of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
I share the things that I have achieved, and even some of my struggles, with my clients in order to motivate them to continue pursuing their goals. I am like them – I came from similar neighborhoods, families and backgrounds as they did. Through my work, I hope to continue to motivate, encourage and influence young women to dream, hope and achieve more in the years to come.
Lina Ortiz is a Mexican immigrant. She came to the United States as a young child and grew up in Anaheim, CA. After graduating high school, she attended Fullerton College and Cal-State Fullerton. She is currently finishing her Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Phoenix in Human Services. Lina has worked with the YWCA of Central Orange County since 2006. She is the Educational Case Manager and assists young women in obtaining employment as well as attending school. She is proactive in advocating for women’s rights, foster children, education, immigration, and civic duties. She plans on attending graduate school to earn her Master’s degree in Social Work and, in the future, return to Anaheim to start a private practice providing affordable mental health services.