Back in May, we launched our Self Made contest with author and entrepreneur Nely Galán and received hundreds of inspiring stories from ambitious Latinas around the country!
It was hard to choose just one winner, but TAGit founder and CEO Ana Bermudez’s journey of hope, hustle, and heart beautifully exemplified what it meant to be a Self Made Latina.
Here's Ana's winning essay!
"My name is Ana Bermudez, and I am the founder and CEO of TAGit—a dynamic tech platform where TV, media, retail, and commerce converge to monetize ads and product placement in real-time.
I am a first-generation American, the first on both sides of my family to attend college and graduate with a degree, and the first entrepreneur in my family. My grandparents immigrated to the U.S. in 1977 with my mother and her three older brothers. My grandparents never had a formal education of any kind, but that didn't prevent them from working hard as crop pickers on California's agricultural farms. They worked strenuous, labor-intensive jobs in the hopes that my mom and her brothers would have an opportunity at a better life in the U.S.
Unfortunately, my mom and her siblings fell victim to a life of poverty in the inner-city. My uncles joined gangs, began using drugs, and only two of them graduated high school. My mother also suffered the reality of falling in to the temptations she faced growing up as an immigrant, to uneducated parents in a poor neighborhood. She became pregnant with me at the age of 18.
My grandparents weren't too happy to find out that their only daughter, and the youngest of their children, was a teenage, unwed mother so they decided that kicking her out of the house was the best option. Like my grandmother, my mother had to work hard to raise me and my five siblings as a single-mother. She has always done her best in making sure that we have a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies. Although my mother only gave birth to four children, she later adopted my biological niece and nephew.
Like my mother, my sister fell victim to the struggles of growing up in Logan Heights with a single mother. While I chose to escape the gang and drug infested streets of Logan Heights through my education, my sister chose the life of drugs, alcohol, and gangs. She became a mother for the fist time at the young age of 14. It was during my sisters pregnancy that I was applying to colleges and was accepted to The University of Norte Dame where I graduated with a degree in Finance.
It was my experience at Notre Dame that prepared me for a career in Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch. I worked as a Wealth Management Advisor for five years before becoming the CFO and partner of a registered independent advisory firm in San Diego, CA. It was my experience in co-founding the firm and serving as its CFO that provided me with the resources needed to co-parent my two brothers, niece, and nephew. I am proud to share that because of my leadership, financial help, and co-parenting my younger brother graduated from St. John's University with a degree in Finance.
I am currently helping my youngest brother complete his studies as a Computer Science major at St. John's University. My niece is a freshman in high school, and it has been my co-parenting, time, and money that has enrolled her in the Engineering Academy at her high school. She's already earned a Presidential Award for academic excellence, two scholarships for college, and was the only Latina, and one of three students selected to represent her entire school at an engineering competition sponsored by Chevron. My nephew is a sweet boy in fourth grade who loves playing basketball, volleyball, baseball, and swimming competitively. He's a math and science superstar, and I am confident that he is well on his way to succeed in high school, college, and beyond.
I am beyond proud of my siblings, and it is an absolute blessing to have the privilege of parenting them with my mom. I share stories about my siblings because they are living a life that my sister and I didn't have the luxury of living at their age. My mom, my siblings and I grew up living in a two-bedroom, one bathroom home where my grandparents, my uncles, my aunt, and two cousins also lived.
Money and privacy were a luxury that we could never afford.
Thanks in great part to my education, I was able to buy my mom and younger siblings a home in the suburbs where they now live and are able to experience an education in STEM, and extra curricular activities. Everything I do is for my family and my community. TAGit is a successful tech company that is paving the way for other Latinas, and members of under-served and under-represented communities to follow. TAGit's success is used to improve the communities that are often forgotten but need the most resources.
As a Latina and CEO, I created the TAGit app to continue improving my family's circumstances, and to create opportunities for other Latinas, Latinos, women, and minorities to succeed."
For more on Ana Bermudez' rise to being a boss. read our exclusive Q&A in our Winter Issue!