Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor people of Hispanic heritage who have influenced America and the world in a monumental way, and to learn about Hispanic history.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Cristal Ruvalcaba, Director of Sales and Outreach with Avamere at Park Place, joined the People of Arete Living Pod to share about her culture, family, career journey, and more.
Cristal has served with Avamere for four years, starting her senior living career as a caregiver. She is a mentor to fellow team members. Cristal attributes her hardworking personality to her parents – and her love of baking to her mother, who owns a bakery.
Here are a few highlights from the interview.
Thomas Cloutier, Host: We’re excited to get to know more about you in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month! Tell me a bit about yourself and your heritage.
Cristal Ruvalcaba, Guest: I am Hispanic. My parents actually came here from Mexico, and they came from Mexico pretty early in their life. So my mom came when she was 18 and my dad about 20 years old. And so they came here to work and go to school. So that’s how they met. I grew up with five other siblings. So we are a very big family, very family oriented, very close with all of my siblings, which is lovely because I do have a lot. I fall in second, oldest out of six, so a lot of responsibility kind of falls into my plate being one of the older child. Yeah, so that’s a little bit about me and about my family.
Thomas: Sure. And I bet that makes the holidays awfully fun at your house, huh?
Cristal: Oh, yeah, very fun. Lots of food, lots of music. Very beautiful. It’s lovely because we are such a big family. We all have our own partners, our own kids. We’re bringing in a lot of our own personality, I guess, into the group, which is very beautiful, I would say.
Thomas: Tell us about your childhood. What are some of your favorite memories?
Cristal: Well, I remember we would go to travel to Mexico at least twice a year. And when we would travel to Mexico, it would either be like on a holiday, like for Christmas, around that time, or during summer break. And every time we would visit my grandma, she has a farm and she has animals, she has cows. And I specifically would be the only one that would wake up at four in the morning, get up, and help milk the cow. So we have fresh milk in the morning. And then from that milk we would actually make cheese. And not a lot of people like this cheese because it has a very strong odor, but it’s very popular in the area where she’s from. So she would actually make the cheese sell it and then that’s how she would create her income. So that’s something that we or I took with her and we did together. And then she also would bake bread that’s also very known, like in her area where she’s from. So we would do that on a daily basis. And I would love making that because it’s it takes a lot of work. It takes days to make the cheese because you have to leave it out to ferment. And she would have all the supplies there.
And it was just such an amazing thing to do and be proud of when it was done and let people know, like, I help my grandma make that cheese, I help my grandma make that bread. So very beautiful thing that I got to experience with my grandma and then just getting to know my family because my most of my family is in Mexico. So it was like a way to connect and get to learn their culture, how they live their lives in Mexico and things like that. So very beautiful way for us to know our parents background and things like that. So it was awesome. I miss it. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Mexico. I want to say like eight or plus years that I’ve been that haven’t been. So hopefully I get to go soon and take my son and get him to know where his grandparents came from and his culture and things like that, because it’s very different trying to teach him here because it’s completely different over there. Completely different, but very beautiful.
Thomas: You’ve advanced your career with Avamere in the last four years you’ve been with us. So just walk us through your career path and journey with us.
Cristal: I actually started my career here as a caregiver. I actually graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in science in hopes to become a nurse. But I had a son, so I didn’t continue my nursing school, so I kind of wanted to stay in the health care background. So I applied for this job, became a caregiver and moved up, became a med tech, became a care coordinator, and now a director of sales and outreach. And, you know, just putting in the work and putting in a good work at the kind of place where I am at today. I am very passionate about everything that I do in every single role, and I make sure that I do it 100% to my ability. And that’s just something that I’ve always done all of my life since I was little. And that’s thanks to my mom because she has always pushed me to be the best that I can in anything.
Thomas: Fun question here. You’re handed a suitcase and two plane tickets. Who are you bringing and why?
Cristal: I will still say my mom 100%. My mom deserves everything. And if I can pay her back one day with everything that she’s given to me, like I would give it to my mom. I would let her pick wherever she wants to go. She’s the commander. She decides where she wants to go. She deserves that and much more.
Thomas: Where do you think she’d choose?
Cristal: I think she would choose somewhere hot, maybe Hawaii.
Thomas: At Avamere, we consider our residents family. What does family mean to you?
Cristal: Family is not always blood. I think family means loving and having compassion and caring for other individuals in a way that is undescribed. I think here in this community, we take a lot of residents that need that. And I think it’s important for them to have that aspect in their life, especially towards the end of their life. I think family is very important and I think it’s awesome that we can share that. We have a lot of people here who are compassionate and care for others. So yeah, I think it’s all about caring and loving one another despite their defects and things like that, because at the end you create a bond and it’s a beautiful bond that doesn’t go away.
Listen to the full episode on the podcast! Written transcript available here.