Mara Hermano

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My grandmother, my mother and aunts, the women in my family have been strong role models for their courage to pursue their dreams, to serve others, and to be independent, self-made women. My mother and her siblings grew up during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. For as long as I can remember, I heard stories of hiding in bunkers, of having to move from their home in the bombed – out city to the countryside, of not having enough to eat and waiting for planes to airdrop

cans of food. My grandfather had been imprisoned for collaborating with the Americans, so my grandmother did all of this on her own, with 6 young children. I can’t even imagine the courage and energy that took! My grandparents valued education and sent their children to study abroad. They became successful

professionals — dedicated to their own careers as well as the family businesses. My grandmother instilled in them a commitment to serve. Her favorite charity was a home for paraplegics. We welcomed the residents to our family gatherings and still support the home today. I left them in the Philippines to create my own story, but they are very much a part of my story and WHO I AM.

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