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Meet Laura Chavez-Wazeerud-Din, one of our 2020 Role Models. Chavez is a Branch Manager for Flagstar Bank in Downtown Detroit. She has dedicated over 15 years to strengthening the community’s in the City of Detroit; from working with Southwest Solutions to Mexicantown Community Development Corporation to the Henry Ford Health System. She is focusing on spreading resources about health, financial literacy, and education. By providing free workshops and volunteering her time to communities in need. Chavez has worked diligently to establish the Hispanic Employee Relations Group (HERG). She is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and has demonstrated leadership throughout her career at this year’s Role Model Dinner.
Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG
Alternatives For Girls (AFG): For many of the women we serve, AFG provides the support system for them to help them make positive choices. Was there anyone in your life/career who helped guide you in making important decisions?
Laura Chavez: The people who were not my family loved me supported me, and at times saw me for what I couldn’t see myself as strong, vibrant. Ms. Beavers, third-grade teacher took her personal time to teach Laura to read. I would go to the house after school, on lunch breaks. She saw me for me in the special ed system. Mr. Palco was a great coach in high school. He knew I had my own apartment at 15 and was working hard. He believed in me and let me know to keep going and that he was always there to lean on. Sports are important for young people to belong to. Good friend’s mom loved me and supported me. Loved her like a fifth daughter. I can still reach out to her to talk because she’s still there for me.
AFG: Clearly, you have felt inspired to give back to the community. Is there any part of your personal story that has led to this?
Laura Chavez: One of the biggest things is, I grew up through foster care, knowing we really had nothing, almost made me say I want more for myself, my family, and when I had friends-more for them. Even starting out in the foster care system, jumping from home to home then coming back to a single parent. I saw great examples of what I didn’t want but I also saw great examples of what could be. I was never placed with a Hispanic family in foster care. I had a caseworker that I would see pretty frequently, she was Hispanic too, I don’t know that she necessarily said or did anything differently than what she did with anyone else. But, having someone who was representative of me in that role made me feel very comfortable and made me feel like she cared about us. I had that feeling that everything was going to be okay when I saw her. Never be afraid to talk to someone.
AFG: Who are your role models?
Laura Chavez: I see things that I like in a lot of people. I don’t know that I’d like to be just like them but there are certain characteristics that I would like to put into my own toolkit. I have a banker who works for me, getting ready to retire. Watching her interact with customers makes me want to be like her, and I’m her boss! It doesn’t need to be someone above me for me to admire them. My caseworker is also a role model. Saw her 2 years ago, remembered our case, my siblings and my family, I always thought “that’s what success is”. Ms. Beavers was a true role model. I wanted to be a teacher like her because of what she did.
AFG: Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of?
Laura Chavez: Being a mom. My son is 10 years old now. As a youth, I can’t imagine my child going through what I went through. When he was born I remember thinking I would do everything I can to give him the best life. I feel so grateful that I could provide such a loving and sound environment for my son.
AFG: What advice would you give to the young women that AFG serves?
Laura Chavez: One thing I would say is, you have value. It’s really important to know that you have value. You have so much opportunity and it’s really important to know that you can do whatever it is that you want to do, as long as you want to do it. Having a game plan and an action plan is important to get it done. Tell your story, talk to mentors, the more you tell your story the more they will see your strengths and can give you support and encouragement. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
AFG: Why do you believe that it is important to empower girls and young women?
Laura Chavez: We’re so strong and we don’t know it. We think muscles make you strong, or height. But, there’s that inner strength that is so much more valuable. We don’t know we have it all the time and it may take someone else pointing it out and being a motivator and catalyst for your strength. As a manager, I try to highlight positive things with my team. As an educator, I always wanted to communicate to my students that they have value.
The 2020 Virtual Role Model Recognition Event and Auction will take place April 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm – April 26, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Registration opens Friday, April 17, 2020. Click here to register!