Culture

She Wasn’t About Spend 4 Months Eating Canned Food, So This Boricua Figured Out How To Make Puerto Rican Food On Mars

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You might not have heard of Dr. Yajaira Sierra-Sastre, who earned her doctorate in nanomaterials chemistry in 2009, but she is quite the hero. In 2013, Sierra-Sastre, the only Latina among her group of six scientists, participated in a four-month-long simulated mission to Mars. One goal of the mission was to examine how food could improve the well-being of astronauts on long missions in space.

As the Huffington Post pointed out, Dr. Sierra-Sastre made sure the other scientists were well fed by using recipes for Puerto Rican dishes.


“I was able to create a recipe for Puerto Rican beans cooked from rehydrated ingredients.” Dr. Sierra-Sastre told NBC Latino in 2012. “It was surprising to me the amount of meals we are able to cook.”

Traditionally, astronauts have relied on canned goods and freeze-dried food to get them through their missions. But Dr. Sierra-Sastre was not about that.


According to the Huffington Post, the proud Puerto Rican prepared dishes like paella and beans with cilantro and annatto.

Dr. Sierra-Sastre says her fascination with outer space began when her father would wake her up to “gaze at the stars.”


She also credits elementary and middle school science fairs as influencing her interest in the subject.

Though Dr. Sierra-Sastre faced obstacles over the course of her career, she never stopped pushing herself.


In an interview with Ciencia Puerto Rico, Dr. Sierra-Sastre spoke about one of the “major obstacles” she had to overcome:

… It was my difficulty speaking English. During college, I suffered a lot with professors that would teach engineering and science courses in English. Sadly, my inability to communicate in English closed some doors at the beginning of my career. That was the main reason why I decided to continue graduate studies in the United States. I wanted to be bilingual and prove myself that I could achieve success in my career.

After pursuing her passion for many years,  Dr. Sierra-Sastre has advice for other women looking a career in science.


Dr. Sierra-Sastre gave Ciencia Puerto Rico’s readers some important advice on how to approach their career.

Be bold, brave, determined and strategic. Find mentors that encourage you and constantly remind you that can do achieve your goals. Safeguard your heart while pursuing your university career because a relationship with the wrong person or at the wrong time could negatively impact your professional goals.

Adding:

Become part of professional organizations for women and find the support that you need. Do not compare yourself to anyone because you are unique! Know the skills and personality traits that distinguish you from the rest of the work force. This also entails to be faithful to your passions.

Be sure to follow Dr. Sierra-Sastre on Facebook.

[H/T] YAJAIRA SIERRA-SASTRE: I AM A BORINQUEÑA AND MATERIALS SCIENTIST

Isn’t she amazing? Don’t forget to hit the share button below. 

El Chapo And Jeffrey Epstein Were This Latina Attorney’s First Clients And She Gets Hate Mail For It

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El Chapo And Jeffrey Epstein Were This Latina Attorney’s First Clients And She Gets Hate Mail For It

Mariel Colón Miró was just four months out of law school, waiting for New York State bar exam results at the ripe age of 26 years old when she was scrolling through Craigslist looking for jobs. She stumbled upon a New York firm that was looking for a bilingual paralegal and went for it. It wasn’t until she got the job that she asked who her client was.

Later, in an interview, she confessed that the name Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera sounded familiar, but it was her trusty friend, Google, that gave her the full scoop. The Puerto Rican recalls “googling who this person was and I’m like, holy shit!” It was El Chapo.

Colón Miró just sort of “clicked” with El Chapo in person.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

The first time she met him, she was supposed to go with her boss, but they left their ID on the subway and couldn’t gain access to the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) that detains El Chapo. So Colón Miró went by herself. She sat across from him and said hello. El Chapo put his hand up against the glass, and she put hers up against his. They talked for three hours about their Latinidad and politics. “He is a very likable person,” she told New York. “It was like a click. This is meant to be my job. I felt very comfortable.”

She turned down a job at the Legal Aid Society after El Chapo asked her to join his defense team as a trial attorney.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

She had been visiting him nearly every day at MCC for months, going through the defense team’s strategy, every piece of discovery, and practicing for cross-examination. Senior attorney Jeffrey Lichtman cites Colón Miró as the only reason El Chapo trusted his defense team. “Chapo, not being American and familiar with our justice system, didn’t trust everyone who worked on the case. But he always trusted her,” Lichtman says.

Colón Miró sympathizes with El Chapo, who was kept in solitary confinement 24/7 and only allowed to speak with Colón Miró herself.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

He was forbidden from speaking to his wife and was only allowed one hour of television a day. Given his two prison breaks during outdoor time, he’s also been denied requests to go outside. “MCC is a very inhumane place, especially if you’re in the solitary housing unit,” Colón Miró told New York Magazine. “It is not a sanitary place. You can see rats walking around. It is nasty. Other clients have told me there’s mold on the water faucets, the AC is never clean. You can actually see the dust and mold.”

Today, she’s even helping El Chapo’s wife with her fashion line, which glorifies El Chapo himself.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

“El Chapo Guzmaán: JGL” will sell glow-in-the-dark cell phone cases featuring El Chapo’s signature, alongside hoodies and T-shirts. On top of that, she’s working on El Chapo’s appeal case, citing the effects of the supermax prison in which he resides, often known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.” He’s allowed outdoor time now, but Colón Miró feels he’s been dehumanized. “I noticed he was sad. Completely different. His demeanor, his eyes. Even his hair — they shaved his head. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been convicted of the most heinous crimes or horrible crimes, I don’t think that anybody deserves to be treated that way.”

Colón Miró grew up in Puerto Rico and studied music business at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

She eventually enrolled in law school on the island and later transferred to Hofstra. Today, she sings in the Hillsong church choir, and tells New York that she sleeps “with a clear conscience.” For Colón Miró, her job is knowing that “we are all sinners. Some of us are sinners that happened to break the law.”

Colón Miró’s second client was Jeffrey Epstein before he committed suicide.

Credit: marielcolonmiroesq / Instagram

Her clientele list has caused an onslaught of hate mail for Colón Miró who ask her how she’s able to represent convicted killers and sex offenders. “If you have a moral dilemma with that, then this profession is not for you. It’s easy to lose that human perspective in this profession. You think that detaching makes it easier to do your job, but it makes it harder for your client. You can’t ever lose that perspective, that empathy, that caring for them. I don’t ever want to lose it. I think that’s what distinguishes me,” she told New York Magazine.

Nurses At A Florida Clinic Are Claiming That They Were Told They’d Be Fired If They Spoke Spanish To Each Other

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Nurses At A Florida Clinic Are Claiming That They Were Told They’d Be Fired If They Spoke Spanish To Each Other

When applying to most local, federal, and government jobs, one of the skills that a majority of employers look for is whether or not the applicant speaks Spanish. Being bilingual in English and Spanish in this country is beneficial to the employer, their customers, and the employee because typically the job is supposed to have a better salary. There are also some places in the country that have large populations of people who speak Spanish and are more comfortable functioning in that language.

There are an estimated 41 million people that speak Spanish in the U.S., or 13 percent of the population, according to Babble. So, speaking Spanish isn’t — at least it should be — a big deal, in fact, it’s quite common. But in Trump America, it’s another story. 

Seven female workers with the Florida Department of Health are coming forward to say they have gotten direct instructions not to speak Spanish in the office. 

Credit: @geronimoproduc1 / Twitter

The women say that even though they were hired because of their Spanish-speaking skills, so they could communicate better with their patients, they are now told not to speak the language with one another in the office. 

“We speak in English to the Anglo-Saxons because we are polite, but we speak Spanish with each other because we think in Spanish,” MairylÍ Miranda, a nurse, told El Nuevo DÍa. “But one day they gathered us all together and warned us that if we continued to do so, we would be fired. But there is no law that bans us from speaking Spanish.”

The seven women on the complaint work at a Florida Department of Health clinic in Haines City, and are also all Puerto Rican. 

Credit: @MDBlanchfield / Twitter

Aside from nurses, the employees on the complaint include an administrative assistant and a secretary. The Florida Department of Health has yet to make a public comment about these allegations. They also allege that management has been on them to stop speaking Spanish for quite some time, but it has only gotten worse in the past year. An official harassment report has been filed to the police department, but the women said nothing has yet to be done.

“It feels like you’re a criminal like you’re doing something that is wrong,” Miranda said, according to Bay News 9. “Never in my life did I think I was going to go through a situation like this one.”

Some people may assume that these employees are speaking Spanish in a way that others may think is rude. But they claim they are very professional at work and never speak Spanish around someone that may not understand them.

While these claims aren’t surprising, especially under this tense and traumatic Trump-era racism, it’s reassuring to know that state and local officials are supporting these employees.

Credit: @relevanne / Twitter

“Haines City is a well-diversified community,” Haines City Mayor Morris West said in a conference, according to the Palm Beach Post. “The facility that’s in question is in Haines City but is not a city of Haines City facility. I stand on behalf of these nurses that’s been [facing] allegations of discrimination against them. Haines City and my staff stand ready to support you nurses from any discrimination.”

Other advocates of these women include Respeta Mi Gente Coalition, which includes Alianza for Progress, Boricua Vota, Hispanic Federation, Misión Boricua, and Organize Florida. U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is also backing these women. 

It’s important to note that the United States does not have an official language.

Credit: @livesinpages / Twitter

For all those people yelling at others, demanding them to speak Spanish, they should know English is not the official language in the U.S

There is nothing in the Constitution that states people in the United States, both citizens or otherwise, have to speak English and English only. Scholars say that the Founding Fathers didn’t include a clause about the English language because immigrants of the 13 colonies spoke other languages, including Dutch, French, and German. Native Americans spoke different languages as well. 

Lawmakers in the past, as recent as 2006, have attempted to make English the official language but thankfully, because of our democracy, the votes have never gone past the House. That doesn’t mean local and government officials haven’t tried to force English on everyone. It’s just part of our assimilation whether we like it or not. 

So the next time someone is yelling racist things such as “stop speaking Spanish” just yell back “English is not the official language of this country. Bye!” 

READ: A Puerto Rican Woman Serving In The Air Force Was Told To Stop Speaking Spanish While At Starbucks