Embracing Second Chances
In life, second chances can often pave the way for remarkable transformations, and Paola Palacio’s inspiring story is a testament to this powerful truth. Overcoming adversity, trauma, and family struggles, Paola has redefined herself and become a beacon of hope and empowerment for others. Her journey exemplifies the resilience and determination that can lead to profound personal growth and lasting positive impact.
The Latin American Association is committed to empowering the Latino community through education, advocacy, and support. As a one-stop shop for aspiring Latina entrepreneurs, the LAA provides an invaluable platform for individuals like Paola to access the ESL Classes, Latina Empowerment Program, and Job Trainings they need to turn their dreams into reality and make a difference in the lives of others.
We are Victims of Victims
Paola’s early life was impacted by generational trauma and addiction. Her mother faced immense challenges in her life which made it impossible to provide Paola with the care that she needed. Born into a family plagued by abuse, she suffered at the hands of her own father and uncles, leaving her deeply traumatized. As a result, she was forced to flee her home and live on the streets, where she became trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction. “Many people in similar situations accuse women of being bad mothers, saying they do not love you because they’re addicted. When you grow up, you realize that it is not that simple. She also had a story, a hard one.”
Born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome due to her mother’s addiction, Paola had a lot of struggles growing up. She was later given to an adoptive family. As Paola grew older, she realized that her biological mother, like many others, was a “victim of victims”. This belief is what Paola said helped her develop more empathy and compassion toward her biological mother.
Despite the hardships she faced, Paola was determined to make a difference. Paola got married when she was 19 and became a mother herself at 22. She pursued her passion for education, earning a master’s degree in Conscious Parenting in Colombia and studying various disciplines related to child development and psychology. Life took another turn when Paola went through a divorce, which inevitably fractured her relationship with her 8-year-old daughter.
Path to Healing
The journey towards healing and growth began when Paola decided to travel to the United States. “Since I’ve been helping parents fix themselves and their relationship with their kids, I will do the same thing for myself.” With the help of her therapist, she found balance and was able to start rebuilding her life. Paola began working as a nanny. Her natural ability to connect and help children led the families to encourage her to work as a therapist in the US, despite her initial struggles with the language barrier. A mother said to her, “I take my kids to different kinds of therapies, but then you came along and they seem at peace.”
It was time to come back to her career. “I started studying how to promote myself on Instagram how to make a business plan, and how to get certifications in the US, I wanted to do things right. I do not sell things, I do not work with objects, I work with the most delicate things, the intimacy of families.” After becoming certified and receiving referrals from different families, Paola began to build her career in the US as a family coach.
From ESL Classes to ¡Avanzando Juntas!
When Paola first moved to Atlanta, she came to the LAA for ESL Classes. As soon as she arrived to the LAA Paola realized she wanted to work here one day. “I joined Avanzando Juntas because I felt ready to take my business to the next level and make sure I am going on the right track.” Paola explained that the Latina Empowerment Program feels like a family. “When working on projects I see how much synergy is created to support one another. We are incentivized to work together. We all have different skill sets that complement each other and help us grow as a collective. If one shines, so do the others.”
Afterwards, Paola joined ACCIONA, which helped her structure her business, learn how to network better and work with others. “A valuable lesson I received here was the importance of connections and providing things of value, no mediocrity. That is what is given here, Mabel, Ernesto, and Monica always give the extra mile to generate that value. This generates reciprocity in bringing out the best in us so we give that extra mile as well.” Over the years, Paola has mended her relationship with her daughter. She fought to give her daughter what Paola needed as a child. She has grown as a family coach and entrepreneur but most importantly, Paola has grown as a mother.
The Gift of Second Chances
As a result of her growth and newfound perspectives, Paola has cultivated a unique, yet strong relationship with her daughter, “She felt our relationship was whole again”. Paola also healed and reconnected with her mother because she believes in second chances, just as her daughter did. This journey serves as an inspiration to us all, showing that with resilience, determination, and the support of a strong community, we can overcome our challenges and thrive. The Latin American Association is proud to play a part in the success stories of Paola and many others, and we remain committed to empowering the Latino community to achieve their dreams.
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