Monday, October 17, 2011

The influence of Cape Verde’s cultural heritage on its Diaspora

Maritsa Barros is a young woman on a mission. Her goal is to make the world a better place for women.

But Maritsa is no ordinary young woman. While she’s interested in fashion like many women her age, her interest lies in starting a business in this arena in order to mentor young women and serve as a role model.

Maritsa has already started on her career path. She is an instructor at Barbizon, a top American agency for modeling, acting and self-development. Maritsa teaches all three disciplines to women from 14 through 19 years old. Maritsa wants to be a positive influence to enlighten young women to be confident, have self-respect and self-esteem, which are important characteristics for future success. She instills in her students a sense of purpose yet shows them that they can also be compassionate.

Maritsa was born in America to Cape Verdean immigrant parents who raised her as one of twelve kids in the strict tradition of Cape Verdean parenting. The first language she learned was Kriolu. She formally learned English as a student in school. At such a young age, Maritsa experienced a bit of a cultural identity crisis, as you could well imagine, given the cross-cultural blend of American and Cape Verdean values. She was unsure which culture to adopt. Yet, this was a very important part of who Maritsa has become today – as she matured, she took the best lessons of each culture and found a very happy medium between both cultures in her day-to-day life and her values.

Maritsa also strongly values education. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in African and African-American studies from University of Massachusetts. She also earned a Masters Degree in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University, Massachusetts. She plans to pursue a PhD within five years.

Believe it or not, Maritsa is one of only a few people who have visited the island of Santa Luzia, the only one of the ten Cape Verde islands that is uninhabited and is now a nature preserve. She went on a science mission with a university group. How's that for showing her commitment to education? In all, she's been to seven of the ten islands.

In November 2011, Maritsa will be representing Cape Verde in the Miss Africa USA 2011 Pageant. This is the first time Cape Verde will be represented in this particular pageant since its inception seven years ago. When I asked Maritsa why she chose to enter a pageant, she responded, “This, is more than just a beauty pageant, and I am not doing it to win a crown; I am doing it because it gives me a platform to promote my message of inspiration, empowerment and education. If I win a crown, it will simply be a bonus.” Her attitude is best described as, “why try to fit in when you can stand out!”

I think you will agree with me that Maritsa Barros is not simply a beautiful, confident woman who is proud of her Cape Verdean heritage, but a beautiful person especially on the inside where it counts the most. And to top it all off, she’s also ambitious, intelligent and business-minded – this is a young woman who will not only serve as a role model for young women everywhere, she’s likely to become an extremely successful business-woman.

Visit Maritsa on her Facebook fan page at Please give her a vote of confidence, and even take the time to send her a personal note via her "Contact Maritsa" link ... I'm sure she'd love to hear from you.


Angelo said...

Update: Maritsa won the titles of Miss Congeniality and Miss Africa USA Fashion Model. The story is here:

Sakin said...

Beautiful girl Maritsa;)

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