Jacklyn Ortiz was born and raised in Rochester, NY on the city’s Northeast side but her mother’s family is originally from Villalba, PR. Her father’s family is split so her paternal grandfather is also from PR (Cayei) and her paternal grandmother is from Linares, Mexico and became a citizen in her 50’s. “I have always considered myself both Mexican and Puerto Rican. I am one of 3 children, my brother Robert unfortunately passed away in 2003 at 21 and my sister Kristina is currently 27 and also resides here in Rochester”, Jackie says. She primarily grew up with her mother because her parents separated early on in their marriage. Unfortunately substance abuse can take a very large toll on families and break them up. Fortunately although rough in the beginning both of her parents are happy, healthy and successful individuals who have found their place with new loves in their lives.

Jackie grew up in a very large family. Her mother is one of 16 children who when Jackie was a child all pretty much lived in Rochester at some point (holidays were great), but now many have moved away back to PR and many down south. Her father’s family although not as large, he is the baby of 5 children. Both sides of her family were very religious so they were very much Catholic growing up and did all of the customary things a devout Catholic family would.

Jackie grew up speaking Spanish primarily due to the fact that her grandparents on all sides did not speak much English and quite frankly she is thankful for that because if not for them she would not have been blessed with the ability to speak both. “It forced me to learn in order to communicate with them. It also helped that they were my babysitters”, says Jackie.

Today, she is engaged and lives with her fiancé Juan, their 2 year old son Cristian and our 4 dogs (1 pit-bull Ramses, and 3 Chihuahuas Evie, Lily and Bo) on the city’s NW side in Charlotte. “We are avid dog lovers”, Jackie shares with a smile.

For Jackie and Juan it is extremely important to instill the values and many of their traditions they grew up with. They feel that today young people do not show adults the respect they deserve, even for something as simple as a greeting. We both grew up asking for “bendiciones”,  it is respect and to this day we do it so our son will as well”. “My Mexican side of the family also always required us to answer when called with the word “mande” so that is also important for us.

Beyond singular words, our language is critical to teach and ensure Cristian can not only understand but is comfortable in engaging with both languages. It is most definitely a link and defining characteristic of who we are that we are not willing to lose. It’s interesting because today I would not describe myself as overly religious in fact would probably even say I’m a horrible Catholic since church attendance can be quite sparse. But, we feel compelled to ensure our son participates in catecismo, first communion, confirmation, etc. Despite where we each are, we feel it important to give him the same foundation and allow him to make his own choices thereafter”, says Jackie.

Holiday traditions, food preparations, special treats and music are also central in Jackie’s home and they take pride in carrying on traditions. Education was always very important to Jackie’s mother and she is known for her saying [you need to use your head for more than a hat rack] “so it stuck with me and not to mention you would be facing a chancletazo if you didn’t”, says Jackie with a chuckle.

Jackie never set out to actually own her own business. She graduated from Wilson Magnet High School and went on to graduate from Cornell University with a degree in Management and Marketing. Her goal was to work in the advertising industry and she was blessed to actually do just that. “I enjoyed my time working in Marketing but unfortunately a negative company culture can make you change gears in a major way and it is exactly what happened to me. I was no longer thrilled where I was”, says Jackie.

She was approached by a friend who knew someone affiliated with Jackie’s current company. “I remember the conversation well, he said [You should meet my wife, you would be great at this, look into it]. What he was referring to was the Insurance and Financial Service Industry. She worked for State Farm. Jackie had a learning curve but she received a lot of support. It has allowed her the opportunity to grow, prosper and the flexibility to engage in other areas of interest as well. “It was not the path I originally envisioned but I am happy to say that is was the right one”, shares Jackie.

Jackie believes that we all have barriers and challenges placed in front us of and succumbing to them or self-pity is useless. “Get up, keep moving, believe there is a grand plan and help yourself. Be unafraid to ask for help, seek out those who can, stay positive, change course when needed and be true to yourself”, strongly recommends Jackie.

She also tells us that being a conscientious person in this world who very much believes we all have something to contribute and work tirelessly to do whatever I can to fulfil that, which includes reminding others we are blessed and have a heartfelt obligation to bestow our knowledge and gifts unto others.

Jackie believes Rochester is a great place to live and work. Rochester is progressive and welcoming place with a rich history. It is ever changing and a burgeoning Latino community. This city, this state and this country in her opinion provide for the prospect that anyone who is dedicated to their cause, takes time to plan and reflect, seeks out like minded individuals and resources can and will be successful. “That is a beautiful thing and anything is possible”, says Jackie with a smile.

Jackie keeps her options open and never closes the door to opportunities that may present themselves. She enjoys where she is at in life but has always been keen on prospects that may allow for a bit more experiencing of the world. She wants her son to know the world is much larger than Rochester, NY.