Culture

America’s First Latina Fighter Pilot Was Rejected Twice Before The U.S. Air Force Accepted Her

Before Olga E. Custodio became the first Latina Air Force pilot, she faced a slew of rejections in life for being a Puerto Rican woman. Even though she was an enrolled college student at just 16 years old, her application to join ROTC was rejected because she was a woman. She always knew she wanted to become a pilot, and worked in aviation in any capacity she could–even in accounting for Puerto Rico’s International Airline. She applied to the U.S. Air force three times before she was accepted.

When she finally was accepted into the training program, Custodio’s father, a military vet, called the governor of Puerto Rico himself to tell him the news.

Olga E. Custodio’s family moved so often, she went to schools in Taiwan, Iran, and Paraguay.

Credit: @JLANSolutions / Twitter

Her father was a sergeant in the United States Army, which meant that Custodio grew up as a ‘military brat.’ The whole family would relocate as her father was assigned to different military stations around the world. “I started kindergarten and 1st grade in Taiwan,” Custodio told Fox News Latino. “From there we moved to New Jersey, followed by a move to Iran then Paraguay before my father retired. I saw the world before I was 15 years old. I liked the feeling of being in the air.”

Custodio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and their family returned to the island when she was 15 years old. She graduated high school a year later.

Credit: @flyLAXairport / Twitter

She was immediately accepted into the University of Puerto Rico, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree at a young age. She applied to join the ROTC program at the University but was rejected for being a woman. Only men were admitted into the program at the time. 

“Why aren’t the women leading?” Custodio asked herself at every job before entering the military.

Credit: @TheFogHornNews / Twitter

She worked a lot of different jobs, and at every one of them, she told the Daily Mail, “I always saw men in the leadership roles. I asked myself: “Why aren’t the women leading? I could lead that!” She met her now-husband, Edward Custodio, and had two children. 

Custodio applied to become an Air Force officer three times before she was accepted.

Credit: Olga Custodio / Facebook

“When my daughter was three years old, I had all the DoD regulations available to me,” Custodio told Fox. “I knew the rules and applied to be an officer for the third time.” Custodio brought her husband and marched into the Headquarters for the Air Force Military Personnel Center to apply to the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School. She was accepted. There, she talked to a sergeant who asked her to name three career choices she would like to have for herself. “I told him I would be a pilot, a pilot and a pilot,” she told Fox.

It took her two years of training to become the first Latina to complete the U.S. Air Force military pilot training program.

Credit: @JMA_Solutions / Twitter

She first had to complete the Flight Screening Pilot Officer Training program before she could enter the Officer Training School. There, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Finally, that qualified her for Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. A year later, she graduated, making her the first Latina to complete the U.S. Air Force military pilot training.

Her first assignment was also historic–she was the first female flight instructor at her base.

Credit: @NATCA / Twitter

At that base, she trained others to fly the Northrop T-38 Talon, which is a two-seat supersonic jet trainer. Custodio was actually awarded an Aviation Safety Award during her time as an instructor after she safely landed a plane that had been compromised after a bird flew into the jet’s engine during bad weather. 

Custodio served our country for 23 years and 10 months before retiring.

Credit: @SISOKlahoma / Twitter

She retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in October 2003, after spending the bulk of her career teaching others how to be effective Air Force pilots. Today, she says she flies for free and for fun. When her friends who own planes ask her to take them for a ride, she happily accepts.

“My mantra is ‘Querer es poder,'” she said.

Credit: @iamalatinogreek / Twitter

“I believe everyone has the potential to do it. They just have to believe in themselves enough to actually do it,” she tells Fox. She also said that she “was not out to prove anything.” She didn’t even know she was “the first anything.” She worked hard for herself and her family, and the accolades followed.

Today, she runs a documentary production company in San Antonio, Texas.

@BigDifference / Twitter

She is also the Vice President of the Hispanic Association of Aviation and Aerospace Professionals (HAAAP). The organization takes young Latinos in the San Antonio area into the cockpit and into control towers to offer more opportunities for growth in the field. Oh, and she also directs a Puerto Rican folk dance group, just for fun.

READ: The First Latina In Space Wants To Use Her Experience To Produce More STEM Graduates

Isabela Merced Is Making a Seamless Transition From Child Star to Pop Star with Her New Single “Papi”

Entertainment

Isabela Merced Is Making a Seamless Transition From Child Star to Pop Star with Her New Single “Papi”

isabelamerced / Instagram

Say goodbye to Dora the Explorer–at least for now. Isabela Merced, formerly known as Isabela Moner, has reinvented herself from child star to bonafide pop singer. On Wednesday, Merced debuted the music video for her new single “Papi”, a girl-power anthem that’s inspired by “salsa, reggaeton, cumbia, and bachata”. According to Merced, she hopes the song will get the message across to womanizing men that they should “treat ladies with the respect they deserve”.

The new music video is impressive not only because it shows a more grown-up version of Merced (who we’ve seen since her Nickelodeon days) but also because it celebrates her Peruvian culture. In the video, we see Merced dressed in both American and Peruvian-style clothes, dancing to choreography that is reminiscent of stand American hip-hop moves as well as the traditional Peruvian dance known as the Marinera. Merced, for her part, is proud of the aesthetic her newest music video embodies: “I want to introduce everyone to the rich culture of my family’s heritage,” she said in a recent interview with Teen Vogue.

Credit: @idolator/Twitter

The transformation from Nickelodeon actor to superstar in the making was arguably kickstarted with Isabela’s decision to change her last name from “Moner” to “Merced”.

After all, 2019 has been a very big year for Merced. Not only did she star in the blockbuster film “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”, but she also revealed that her mother has been  privately battling breast cancer. According to Merced, the decision to change her last name came from the desire to honor family–especially her Peruvian heritage. The name Merced comes from her late grandmother, Yolanda Merced Salazar Pittman. “I believe some force, throughout all these years, has been giving my mom the strength and determination to guide me,” she told Refinery29. “I feel as though if that guardian angel would be anyone, it would be my grandma.”

So, while some child actors struggle to make the transition from child entertainer to serious adult actor, Merced makes the entire process look easy. While the music video for “Papi” has its sultry moments, it doesn’t seem to be trying too hard to prove anything. Yes, there’s a love interest who makes an appearance in the video–but the entire song isn’t just devoted to a man. “’Papi’ is empowering to girls. [It] has sass and confidence,” she says. With lyrics like “Or did I forget to mention?/Don’t like frivolous affection/I don’t want it on the first date or third date…I’m never gonna call you papi/Even if it makes you happy,” the song celebrates to independent women of the world who refuse to change themselves to make a man happy. 

Credit: @playintoit/Twitter

According to Merced, the bilingual bop is just the beginning of her exploring the world of Spanish-language music. 

Merced, who was born to a Peruvian mother and a white American father, has previously been candid about growing up bilingual in a multicultural household. “I want my music to represent who I am…I grew up with a white dad and a Latinx mom, who was an immigrant. That is who I am. It’s okay to be a mix…Us mixed kids have a place in this society, and Spanglish songs do as well,” she told Refinery29.

It’s refreshing to see such representation for multicultural Latinos who grew up in a multi-racial family. The reality is, many Latinos feel equally comfortable speaking two languages, especially if one parent is non-Latino. According to the Pew Center for research, almost 7% of Americans identify as mixed-race, and that number will continue to grow. In other words: Isabela Merced is definitely onto something.

Credit: @Z100NewYork/Twitter

Of course, Merced’s fans have been going crazy on Twitter over her Latina-and-proud music video.

Like Christina Aguilera before her, this child star is embracing all aspects of her identity and people are pumped.

Peruvians are 100% here for Merced showing some love for their country:

It’s always exciting to see your culture recognized in the media.

This Peruvian sees the music video as a beautiful “tribute”:

You can definitely feel the love that went into the making of this music video purely from its attention to detail. 

Many people are praising “Papi” for supporting bilingual and multiracial representation:

A lot of people don’t recognize that there’s no one “right” way to be Latinx. For many Latinos in America, Spanglish is a way of life. 

Of course, there are also the stans who are just in awe of Isabela Merced’s raw talent:

Seriously, is there anything this girl can’t do? We’ll wait.

Today Is The Day To Stand Up Against This Horrible Latina Wage Gap And Here’s What You Can Do To Close It

#mitúWORLD

Today Is The Day To Stand Up Against This Horrible Latina Wage Gap And Here’s What You Can Do To Close It

mitú

The wage gap issue in this country doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t demand change.

Latinas currently make 54 cents to every white man’s dollar — that means we have to work a full extra 10 months to earn what a white man does. Latinas are also at the bottom of the pay gap totem pole.

We have impeccable work ethic and we were taught to hustle from all of the poderosas who raised us — we deserve the full dollar.

To bring awareness to this unjust paygap, we have partnered with We All Grow Latina to design this shirt which is donating 20 percent of the proceeds to Justice for Migrant Women to continue advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

Continue reading, educate yourself and be upset about this wage gap. Nos ¡están robando! Keep scrolling to inform yourself on what this wage gap really means and how it affects you.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

So, what is the wage gap and what does it all mean?

Hollywood Game Night / NBC / laravegas / Tumblr

CREDIT: Credit: Hollywood Game Night / NBC

The wage gap discussion hinges on the fact that women are being paid significantly less than their male counterparts for the same work. Studies have found that for every dollar a man makes, a woman makes 80 cents for doing the same job.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

Simply being a female in the workplace can translate into you taking a much smaller salary or hourly wage than a male.

Superstore / NBC / GIPHY

CREDIT: Credit: Superstore / NBC / GIPHY

“Nationally, women who hold full-time jobs are paid just 77 cents for every dollar paid to men who hold full-time jobs,” Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, told NBC Latino.  “African-American women and Latinas fare worse, being paid 64 cents and just 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.”

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

If you are a Latina, studies show that the wage gap is much greater with Latinas making just around 54 cents for every white male dollar.

alikaheroes / Tumblr

CREDIT: alikaheroes / Tumblr

That’s nearly HALF! According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), not only are Latinas the most underpaid demographic in the United States, the wage gap varies depending on what state you live in. Some states have a larger or smaller wage gap between white males and Latinas.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

For perspective, Fortune reported that a Latina will experience $1 million less in pay than a white male over a lifetime for the same job.

We are mitú / Facebook

CREDIT: We are mitú / Facebook

“In fact, what you see is that the wage gap gets bigger over the course of a woman’s career,” Emily Martin, the NWLC general counsel, told Fortune. “[Women] start out making less. If you start making a little less and then your raises are based on a percentage of your salary, the gap grows over time.”

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

According to NWLC, Texas, California and New Jersey are the three states with the largest Latina wage gap disparity.

smokingsomethingwithrihanna / Tumblr

CREDIT: Credit: smokingsomethingwithrihanna / Tumblr

Latinas make 44.2 cents per white male dollar in Texas. Latinas living in California, a state that is majority Latino, are only paid 42.9 cents per every white male dollar. New Jersey comes in dead last with Latinas making just 42.7 cents for every white male dollar.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

This is an important issue because an estimated 3 million homes are led by a Latina.

We are mitú / Facebook

CREDIT: Credit: We are mitú / Facebook

That would mean that a Latino family in California led by a Latina would have to survive on just 42.9 percent of the money that a household gets that is led by a white male.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

Female products are also more expensive than the male versions, as seen in this mitú video.

We are mitú / Facebook

CREDIT: We are mitú / Facebook

Basic products like deodorant, razors and shampoo are more expensive if you are female than if you are male. There’s even a debate going on about whether or not we should do away with taxing tampons.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

This Latina gender wage gap even affects some of Hollywood’s most notable Latinas, like Gina Rodriguez.

Jane The Virgin / CW / janethevirgin-gifs / Tumblr

CREDIT: Credit: Jane The Virgin / CW

It was recently reported by Variety that leading women of color on TV and in movies are getting paid far less than their male and white counterparts. According to information released by Variety, the lead of CW’s “Jane The Virgin” makes just $60,000 per episode while Jim Parsons makes $1,000,000 per episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” ?

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

So, on this Latina Equal Pay Day, let’s start to demand some serious change. Call your senators, representatives, and even local and county government leaders to start voicing your opinion.

stanforpopculture / Tumblr

CREDIT: Credit: stanforpopculture / Tumblr

It’s time to end the wage gap in America.

For some more of that knowledge, check out mitú’s full Latina age gap video below.

How Big Is The Latina Wage Gap?

Posted by We are mitú on Monday, July 25, 2016

This sucks, right? Let the world know you’re not putting up with this anymore. Click below to purchase your shirt and demand 100% equal pay.

Click here to purchase your Latina Equal Pay Day shirt and contribute advancing the conversation toward equal pay.

Share this story with all of your friends by tapping that little share button below!