Maria Christiana: wife, mother, teacher, first-generation American

Camila Reinoso

In 1966, a compassionate, quick-witted young woman made the journey from Arequipa, Peru to Paducah, Kentucky with dreams of becoming a doctor.  But she was a woman, so she spent her days as a nanny and a cleaner. 

Society has continuously neglected the skills and talent of extremely capable women. This particular woman was Maria Christina, my grandmother, but her story is one of many. There are countless women we should celebrate for their courage and strength; their contributions to science, politics, law, sports, and so many other fields. Even more inspiring is the fact that they started at a disadvantage. 

There is still a lot of room to improve, but the eyes of women and girls are being opened up to a whole new world of possibility that couldn’t have been imagined by the young immigrant woman that was my grandmother. 

Her life has still been inspiring in its own way. Although she never became a doctor, she married my grandpa, and raised my dad and my four uncles in a tiny house. She was able to make her way in the US and now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she teaches Spanish to high schoolers in her free time, and loves to sew and cook. 

She shares her knowledge and creativity with everyone she meets, but I often wonder what her life would have been like if she had had the freedom to become everything she aspired to be.