I’ve never had so much fun as I did working with Nena at Starbuck’s in Emeryville while I was attending grad school. Nena was someone who wasn’t afraid to speak at loud volumes during business. She would be across the store asking me questions while I rang up patrons or made drinks. The best thing was that people who visited our store loved stopping by because it was a place they could come for a good cup of coffee and great camaraderie. I never laughed so hard in my life as I did when Nena and I joked around and on so many occasions she misheard what I was saying. Her misinterpretation would then become our inside joke, which would keep us entertained for days and weeks after. I am so glad I had the opportunity to work with her. She really enriched my life.
When I asked Nena about her life she said, “I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I grew up in Vallejo! As a teen and adult, I lived and worked in different cities in the East Bay. After attending college for what felt like a trillion years, I finally graduated with a BA in 2009 and went straight into an MS program in Chicago on a fellowship to the esteemed Erikson Institute. Upon completion of my MS degree, I got a job teaching at a Community College. I mainly pursued an MS degree so I can teach in a Community College and I am doing it! So that’s how I got to Chicago. I now work as a Community College Instructor teaching Child Development.”
Nena said one example of how she likes to have fun is, “My best friend and I have a youtube channel. Black Momma White Momma. It was supposed to be a food channel, with us cooking, but now its turned into us doing food reviews, us fucking around making shit… It’s all in fun. We are two college professors who are foodies, but turn into total teenagers when we get together.”
Her passion is anything around human development. Nena said, “I am most proud of becoming an Instructor and influencing the lives of my students in hopes they positively impact the lives of their children and families.”
When I asked Nena to tell me something interesting about her life she said, “I have had 72 jobs in my 22 years of working. I have finally settled into my dream career. I am a “Hustla”. I am adventurous, I like breaking rules and living outside the box. I am an artist. I am an extrovert with some introverted tendencies. I love food. My parents and grandmother taught me how to cook. I love food. My weight fluctuates like Oprah and Luther Vandross. I am a lover and a fighter (Not a physical fighter, but don’t piss me off).”
Enjoy her answers to the Bonus questions!
If you could cure one disease in the world what it is? Why?
I would cure ignorance and hate. I think if there were more people
What advice would you give the teenage you?
To the 18-year-old me, I would say “stop fucking around being lazy” You have great ideas. Take a leap of faith and focus on creating the life you want to live. Stay healthy, eat right and work out CONSISTENTLY
What is one meal or food you could eat every day and not get tired of?
Cereal. I love Cereal. It’s not the best thing in the world, but I love cereal. A healthy one, sugary bad ones.
If you were president and could enact any law out right, what would it be?
A few. First. all farms must practice sustainable and fair farming practices across the board. No mass produced, hormone injected foods. Second make it illegal for food companies to add preservatives and chemicals to food that research has proven to be bad for human consumption and health. We have so many sick people in the US and mainly it is because of our food supply.
Name a place you would like to visit?
What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
Traveling to every Continent. Scuba diving with Turtles near by
If you could be any profession at all, what would it be?
Although I am currently working my dream job, which is a community college faculty, the only other thing I would like to becomes an actress.
Do you think humans should be concerned about the planet?
OMG Yes!! We can’t continue to waste resources and energy out of ignorance and for the sake of our ego’s. It’s ridiculous.
Do you recycle?
AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. I have become more and more aware of how much people waste in this world and I am trying to leave less of a carbon footprint in the world
What is one attribute you got from your Mom? How has it been a benefit to your life?
I am a giving person and care taker of others. My mom has taught me how to be a good friend and help people in need. I am not sure how much I benefit from it…hmmm. I have strong friendships. My mom has also taught me how to appreciate nice( expensive) things.
What is one attribute you got from your Dad? How has it been a benefit to your life?
Wow… The older I get I am so much like my dad, it’s ridiculous. I would say the attribute I have taken from my dad is a flexible attitude and not really caring what other people think of me or my actions. It has helped me live outside the box and do things that I think other people might feel inhibited to do. My dad also taught me how to manage my money and spend money wisely ( in attempt balance the attribute I got from my mom)
Do you prefer to vacation with the locals or all-inclusive resort.
Locals all damn day if I am abroad. I went to an all-inclusive once in Cancun. Nothing but a bunch of American people on the trip. Stayed at the resort for most of the time, with the exception of a few excursions. It was whack in my opinion, but I did it cause I got a really good deal on the room and airfare—otherwise I would never pay the full price for the trip.(thanks, dad)
What is the most adventurous thing you ever did?
Eat insects in Thailand.
Do you have any addictions or obsessions?
Sugar addiction. I think more people are addicted to sugar than they know it. I just realized I have a sugar addiction. Trying to think of ways to curb it.
What makes you laugh?
Lots of things. Sarcasm, hanging with my sister Nik, and best friend Mary. I laugh at myself. I think I am pretty funny.
If you were the opposite gender for a day what would you do?
Walk around on a hot day with my shirt off ( Shaved bare chest)
What is your favorite accent?
Grief these questions are hard. Love the New Orleans accent. Austrailian and Jamaican
Have you ever cried when a celebrity died?
I shed a tear for MJ, but I definitely would have cried when Prince died, but I had an interview that I didn’t do so well on that same day and was devastated. So I mourned myself instead of Prince.
What is your horoscope sign? Do you feel it fits you?
Pisces. It absolutely fits me. Water sign. I am sweet, elusive, flexible, smart, artistic, emotional… I am actually born on the cusp of Aries, and I believe I have some Fire sign tendencies as well.
What do you think is the meaning of life?
Hmm. Live should be enjoyed. It should be a learning experience of self-growth ( is this a word). Life is about connecting with yourself, understanding yourself and others and personally experiencing healthy relationships (friendships, romance, relationships between family and friends, parent/child etc). Unfortunately, Life doesn’t always serve up pleasant experiences for everyone, all the time, but I think having the opportunity to experience a few positive moments in life, self-reflecting and making changes to live happier and give and receive love or nurturance is important.
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?
I left a cup of ice in my car one cold ass Chicago winter night. And the next morning the cup of water was frozen but the ice had frozen upwards and created something that looked like a straw. It was weird. I wish I had a picture
How much money do you think is enough?
Enough to live. Not just survive. To have extra to go our every now and then. To take a vacation with your family, or alone. To buy necessities or tackle emergencies without stressing out about where the money will come from.
Do you think you think it’s possible to have your dream job?
I am actually working my ”realistic” dream job right now. My real dream job is to become an actress in comedy sitcoms or movies.
Do you pick your nose?
Not as often as I used to. I used to pick my nose all the damn time.
Do you secretly fart in public and hope no one notices?
Fuck yes. I am a gassy person, so I am always passing gas. Sometimes not secretly. I will just walk to an isolated area and let it rip
Do you kill all bugs?
Most of the time… I know its bad. Sorry
Do you love your job? Why?
I actively and purposefully pursued a masters degree so I could teach in community college. I love my job because I get to share my knowledge to connect with other adults who are passionate about supporting children and families in their development, and making a positive impact on their lives.
Do you think cancer will be cured in your lifetime?
I think if we were not indoctrinated and constantly enticed in the media to eat unhealthy foods, made into sugar and carb addicts we would have fewer rates of cancer diagnoses than we have today. Our food system is corrupt and it is damaging our health.
Do you enjoy hugs?
Love hugs! Love giving hugs and receiving hugs.
What is one thing you tell people right now to change the world for the better?
Practice Empathy and Forgiveness. Seek Understanding. Help one another. Develop positive relationships with your friends family and children.
What is one word you use all the time?
Who do you talk to on the phone the most.
My sister Nikki and Soon to be Husband Jason.
What do you think is the key to a healthy relationship?
Finding Understanding, Forgiveness, and Communication.
If you won the lottery what 3 things would you do first.
Pay off debt. Save a huge portion of it/ invest. Spend the rest traveling.
Why is reading books so important?
So much information in books. So many different perspectives to read about. So many different worlds and situations to experience. Books are enlightening. Even if people don’t read books, being literate is important.
Have you ever stalked your ex online?
I still do for a few of them…. LMAO
What do you think is the biggest of waste of money?
What is a word that always makes you laugh?
Only when my sister says it—“Jag-off and Fluff-Fluff” (inside jokes)
Do you watch too much TV?
Not really. I have been influenced by a friend of mines to get rid of my TV and cable. I have been cable and TV free since November 2014. I will watch TV when I am at friends homes with cable. But I will watch AKA Binge on Netflix on my computer every now and then.
What would you like to be remembered for?
Making a change in lives of children and families in the field of Early Childhood Education. Whether its from my direct service to children and families, or through teaching my students in my classes, reflective practice with current teachers in the field. Most importantly I want to be known for influencing ECE practitioners and teachers to be more mindful and more empathetic, and to share those practices with children and families
Is there something that you wear every day? What is it?
Sunglasses. Rain, Sleet, Snow, Sunshine, Grey Skies I will always have a pair of sunglasses on.
Do you enjoy being in the nude? Explain?
Yes!! I have always been comfortable being naked in my house, especially after a shower… I don’t know why… I guess I don’t like getting dressed right away. I also have skinny-dipped several times at the beach. It feels quite amazing to be naked in a HUGE body of water… Just have to experience it. Also, I went to a nude beach for the first time in Europe in the summer of 2015. It was really liberating laying on the beach butt naked in the sun…
Have you ever thought of an invention? What?
Plenty, but I can’t share, in case someone takes my idea… Oh, wait. I did think about the idea of a textured foam roller back in 2006 before they were actually put in production… (smh, I could be rich right now!)