Today we’d like to introduce you to Luz Cuevas.
Luz, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Michoacán, Mexico. My story begins when my family and I immigrated to the United States back in 1992. I never thought about my immigration status and quite frankly didn’t think it made a difference. My parents were hard working individuals providing for me and my three siblings.
It wasn’t until the 9th grade in high school that I realized how my status in this country could affect my future. I was part of a college abridge program and was my first in my family to navigate the college process. I remember my counselor telling me to just focus on community college due to lack of funding for higher education. How would I pay for college? How would I work even if I received a degree? These were the questions that started taking control of my mind, I couldn’t understand and comprehend how a college bound, straight-A student, president of Puente Club, president of Mecha Club, active volunteer in my community church could be denied the opportunity of higher education! This is the first time I realized my inner fire of breaking barriers, I decided to push forward and make this goal possible. I accepted my admissions to attend the University of California Los Angeles in the fall of 2006 as an undocumented student and I was ecstatic!
My parents invested all their life savings to fund my education, with private scholarships as well, and I remember telling my mom it was too much money and her response was, “you deserve to dream, you deserve to make this happen, don’t limit yourself.” Then the crash of 2008 hit and I did not have any more funds to continue my education after my second year at UCLA. I was devastated as I had to withdraw, I thought it was all over… but I was glad that I persevered through the challenges because a couple of months later my family and I finally gained legal permanent residency after 15 years in the process. I married my high school sweetheart and went back to school. In 2011 I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and minor in psychology from UCLA and my first son by my side. I decided to venture into the field of social change and started my first job working as a mental health coordinator working with juvenile probation youth in South LA. This job instilled in me a fire to advocate for those that are disadvantaged due to systemic oppression and in 2014, I decided to return to school for my Master’s Degree. I was accepted to the School of Social Work at USC and began the program with my three toddlers and my husband by my side. I graduated with my Master’s Degree the end of 2016 and started working in the mental health field shortly after.
Throughout this time, what kept me going was and is my faith. I have been an active volunteer at my community church at St. John of God in Norwalk, CA. Since the age of 13 working with youth and adults mentoring them in spiritual growth. I am currently the lead coordinator of the Spanish Prayer ministry Grupo Seguidores de Cristo y Maria with more than 100 members. We organize retreats, spiritual workshops, weekly bible study, fundraisers, and events that help our community church. I continue to work in the field of mental health as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and I am currently in the works of launching my YouTube channel with a focus on the inter relatedness of faith and mental health in the Latino community. My next adventure is to develop a faith-based mental health non-profit organization within the next five years. This will be my biggest risk-taker, breaking all barriers and fears within myself.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not being an easy ride. The biggest struggle to overcome was trying to find scholarships to pay for my education. I even signed up for a door to door sales job in Maryland to fund my second year of college. At this moment, trying to establish linkages to being the non-profit organization is difficult. Also, being the first in my family to ever try to establish this and not knowing the process is difficult.
Please tell us about St John of God Catholic Church.
At this moment, coordinating and leading my ministry at church is very rewarding and requires a lot of time management since I do this as a volunteer. I coordinate a group of 100 plus volunteers, managing meetings, organizing retreats, putting together presentations and preaching events, organizing fundraisers, and I provide team-building exercises along with personal development. I am proud to work with these volunteers because this work reminds me of God’s mercy in my life, gratitude, and grounds me in focusing on making a change in my community.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t believe in luck. My values are centered on faith and spirituality. Whatever you set your mind to can be accomplished.
- Address: Grupo Seguidores de Critso y Maria
St John of God Catholic Church Norwalk, CA.
Ministry meets on Friday’s at 7:00 PM
Currently no meeting only on Facebook live
13819 Pioneer Blvd Nowalk, CA 90650
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/SeguidoresdeCristoyMaria