The City Magazine May 2023

Page 1

Rock & Rule with Local Women in Business


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FASHION · HEALTH · lifestyle


Shelley Mozelle |


Senior Editor

Erin Coulehan |


Editorial Design

Ernie Sanchez Creative |

Graphic Designer

Maggie Blum |


Associate Publisher / Director of Sales

Chaz Wilson |

Operations Manager

Mari Van Pelt |

Account Executives

Megan Langford |

Omar Samaniego |

Veronica Nevarez |


Editor-In-Chief Assistant

Amber Lanahan |


415 East Yandell El Paso, Texas 79902 (915) 225-0265 |

Cover Design By: Ernie Sanchez Creative

Letters addressed to The City El Paso Magazine become the property of the magazine, and it owns all rights to their use. Letters may be edited for space. All rights to the contents of this magazine are owned in full by the magazine and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the Editor in Chief. Views expressed herein are those of the authors and advertisers and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or management of the magazine.

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a copy of To Subscribe go to JOIN US THE CITY MAGAZINE 3012 E. Yandell, El Paso, TX 915-566-0095

From the

If I could save time in a bottle … wait I have, I’ve saved time in print that will last forever.

For everything there is a season. For the last 16 years, I’ve had the honor of publishing El Paso’s lifestyle magazine. This has been my calling – my description if you will. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the introduction, “This is Shelley Mozelle, she owns The City Magazine,” I’d be a wealthy woman. Our relationships, our titles, with the passage of time, rules so much of what we do … they partially describe who we are. I am in a transitional, migratory period in my life, where it feels as though the past, present, and future are colliding and it’s an exciting collision. Examining my past brings the present into focus and I find myself shaping a new future. During this bittersweet season of change, I’m stepping down from the responsibilities of my dream job, passing the heavy torch to my strong son, Chaz Wilson. Chaz has been in training for this important position since he was in junior high, sitting at my office conference table during print deadlines with his sister, Sarah, doing his homework, listening to and watching the works of the magazine. I know his years of preparation, sometimes unknowing preparation, have prepared him to take our brand to a new level. He is no doubt ready and excited for his new position as Associate Publisher, where he will run the day-to-day operations of the magazine. I still pinch myself over the amazing experiences and the incredible people I’ve been honored to rub shoulders with, share a glass of wine and heartfelt emotional moments. I’m immensely proud of how the magazine has navigated through our city and hope we have somehow shifted the way people look and talk about our great city.

I’m taking a turn toward a new path. Those who know me, know that my heart has always been with notfor-profits and my love has always been drawn to children and families. From my early involvement with The Boys and Girls Club, to my 10 years with Make-A-Wish, to my love for the mission of El Paso

Children’s Hospital, and now… to a new love. My heart has drawn me to a new passion that El Paso will soon learn is one of the most exciting concepts to come to our region in the last 15 years. The not-for-profit is called El Paso Children’s Garden, a 60 acre botanical garden with over three miles of pathways through 28 unique gardens nine amazing rental event venues, , many special horticultural featuresand my favorite, a Butterfly House. It will be known throughout our country as the most inspirational, innovative, interactive botanical garden, and a leading example of horticulture and conservation education. And it will be located right here in El Paso. What this garden will do for education, enjoyment, regional tourism, and the basic economy of our region is unimaginable. I realize your head is spinning because there is no way I can fully describe in a few written words the enormity of this amazing non-profit project.

The mission of the magazine is “To Celebrate All the Good Things El Paso has to Offer,” yet instead of writing about these good things, I’ll be knee deep in the flowers.

This is by no way a goodbye because goodbye means going away, and I’m not going anywhere. Goodbye means forgetting, and I won’t let you forget me.

Sometimes in life we take a turn toward another path to complete the path God placed you on, and I’m so incredibly excited about this path.

I hope you continue to be a part of my journey,

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There’s never been a time that I didn’t love women’s magazines. Like, love, love, love, love, love them. I remember thumbing through issues of Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Glamour, and any other glossies I could get my hands on as a little girl, desiring to write the stories on the pages and dress like the models in the ads.

How lucky I am that I get to live my dream every day, and am now at the helm with my BFF!

The Romy to my Michelle, I couldn’t be more proud of Chaz for ascending to the role of Associate Publisher -- a scary job --and I couldn’t be more excited for us to continue to work together to celebrate the city.

Welcome to our women’s issue!

Gone are headlines telling women to be more pleasing, lose weight, take up less space -yada, yada, yada. Today, we know that most women’s default mode is fabulous and it’s our job as a magazine to enhance all the best qualities that are already inside of us.

What’s more, we now have shows and other media that showcase facets of women not typically seen on screen. Take Yellowjackets, for example, a series that manages to portray the desperation of the human spirit in crises with teenage naivete (and a really good woman-driven soundtrack) that also promotes the importance of friendship and sisterhood.

When I was putting this issue together, I noticed an overarching theme of fire: Marina’s fiery red hair, the women of the FBI coming under fire on the job, Karla Martinez extinguishing fire (and stigma), Brissia Vega

teaching women how to work with fire at her welding academy, and so much more. The women in these pages radiate confidence, perseverance, and pride in their work that has inspired our entire office.

Fittingly, this women’s issue is very rock and roll.

Marina and I both covered rock shows for local publications during our early 20s, and it’s neat to see how much the scene has evolved.

Take Acid Wave, for example.

The all-girl dream pop rock band is embarking on their first tour this May and are already making waves locally. It won’t be long til they’re playing major festivals and laughing about the interview we did at Tinman on Airway way back when.

I’m so excited to have Marina -- El Paso’s ultimate cool girl -- on our cover and continue to admire her.

During our photoshoot with Jordan Licon, we were inspired by Rolling Stone covers of Madonna looking like a badass in the 1980s and 1990s and listened to Bad Bunny, Rosalia, and Megan Thee Stallion to set the mood. Marina is as fun as she is fierce, and I couldn’t agree more with Beto O’Rourke in our cover story, where he discusses the positive impact Marina has made on the community.

And she has so much more great work to do!

Something that always stands out to me about El Paso is the strength of our women.

This issue reflects the hardwork and multitude of skills that women in the community exhibit each day that include empathy, attention to detail, and an attitude that does not allow failure to be an option.

I hope to continue to develop these skills in myself as we move the magazine forward, while always looking for more stories to tell about the special people in our community.

Margaret Atwood asserts that “In time, all girls will be able to grow up believing that there are no avenues closed to them simply because they are girls,” and I am completely committed to making that a reality.

For the women reading this, I ask that you please keep a copy of this issue handy for whenever you or someone you know has moments of doubt or frustration, or need some good girl power news to share.

The women in these pages are proof that women can do and have it all, and so can you.

May we continue to rock and rule. 16
From the
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Erin COULEHAN Senior Editor Megan MEHL Jade Rachelle CARRASCO Dr. Ogechika ALOZIE Sergio OLIVAS Veronica NEVAREZ Claudia FLORES Kelechi ALOZIE Andi R. TISCARENO Contributors Aina MARZIA Jordan LICON 19 May 2023 MAY 2023 VOLUME 110 contents Features Here and Now 26 Hero Rises in the Heat By: VERONICA NEVAREZ 76 A Self-Care Sanctuary By: JADE RACHELLE CARRASCO 70 The Magic & Magnetism of Marina By: ERIN COULEHAN 86 Sexual Health & Hip Hop By: DR. OGECHIKA ALOZIE 96 Full STEAM Ahead By: AINA MARZIA & KELECHI ALOZIE 22 The Lust Frontier By: MEGAN MEHL 76 70 26
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The Lust Frontier




I’m about to turn 35, and …let me check my ring finger… yep, still single. Some days I struggle a lot with this, and other days I feel endlessly grateful for everything that has happened to bring me exactly where I am right now. I’ve made so many mistakes, hurt others, and endured my fair share of heartache. I’ve also loved hard, taken risks, and learned a ton about myself and about people in general. Now I have the endlessly interesting, frustrating, and entertaining role of working as a matchmaker and coaching others in their love lives. Don’t worry, the irony isn’t lost on me! Here are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. If someone cheats on you, it’s not about you. It’s about them.

2. It is much harder to leave a bad relationship than to stay in it.

3. If your partner puts you down, RUN. It’s not a misunderstanding and you’re not too sensitive.

4. If someone tells you that you’re too sensitive, it’s because they are not capable of holding space for your emotions and they don’t care how you feel. This, again, says much more about them than it does about you.

5. The person of your dreams will NOT be what you expect. Stay open.

6. Intuition is a powerful thing. If you feel that you’re unsafe or that someone can’t be trusted, you’re probably right.

7. You should be the protagonist in your own life, not the best supporting actor. Go after what you want and the right partner will stand by your side.

8. You will never fully understand someone else’s relationship. Don’t assume you do.

9. No relationship is 100% good or 100% bad. Just like people, they come in shades of gray.

10. You cannot live your life based on timelines that come from society or other people. External pressure is the absolute worst reason to enter a relationship, get married, or have a baby.

11. The second worst reason is the fear of being lonely.

12. If they wanted to be with you, they would be. “He’s Just Not That Into You” is basically a documentary, and you can’t change my mind.

13. Unpopular opinion: I’d argue that we all deserve a second chance 99% of the time. But no one deserves a third chance with your heart.


14. When someone does something that hurts your feelings, tell them. They probably aren’t a mind reader.

15. Timing is everything.

16. No one will ever respect you more than you respect yourself. If you don’t love yourself, that will be reflected back to you in relationship after relationship.

17. When someone shows you the type of person they are, believe them.

18. Don’t fall in love with potential or with your projection of who someone is. Refer back to #17.

19. It’s worth it to take risks in love. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Yes, despite everything, I’m still a romantic!

20. You NEVER owe anyone your body or any kind of sexual act. Be more prepared to say ‘no’ than to say ‘yes’, even if it’s awkward or they are unkind about it.

21. Take responsibility for the times that you mess up in a relationship, which we all do. Hear the other person out, put yourself in their shoes, and say sorry. If you feel that wave of defensiveness rise up in you, wait until it passes and respond from a place of humility and compassion.

22. It takes two to tango. While it may be tempting to point fingers when things go sour, both people are at fault in a toxic or failed relationship -- even if you’re only guilty of staying too long or not standing up for yourself.

23. If you’re looking for someone to complete you, you have more work to do on yourself before entering a relationship. It’s just not fair to the other person.

24 May 2023
The Lust Frontier: 35 Things


If someone tells you they aren’t looking for something serious, it’s because they mean it (or because they don’t want it with you). Don’t waste your time waiting it out. I’ve been on both sides of this situation.


Your relationship should be comfortable without frills (a.k.a. distractions). Are you happy sitting on the couch with them alone, sober, and doing absolutely nothing? If so, everything else is a bonus.


Ghosting is extremely unkind, cowardly, and childish. We can all do better than that and treat others with more respect. I say this as someone who is definitely guilty of doing this in the past.


If you’re feeling lonely, sex with someone who doesn’t care about you will make it infinitely worse. Sex with an ex will also make it worse (and will mess with your head more than LITERALLY anything else in the world).


If they don’t bring out the best in you, they aren’t your person. You should also be able to be your silliest, most honest, most tattered-sweatpants-and-glasses-wearing/dirty hair/no makeup version of yourself …and be loved for it.


Don’t make assumptions. In any situation, there’s what actually happened, and then there’s the story you tell yourself about what happened, why, and what it meant. Pay attention to the “story” your mind creates and fact-check with your partner.

30. All of your emotions and other people’s emotions are valid, even if they are irrational.

31. No amount of wanting or trying can make an unhealthy relationship work if the other person isn’t willing to put in the effort.


It’s okay to walk away when you know it’s not right, as soon as you know it’s not right. That doesn’t make you the bad guy.

33. If your heart is breaking and you feel like you might not survive, know that you will be okay. One day soon, an hour will pass without you thinking of them. And then later a few hours. And then a whole day. Eventually you will feel happy again. This I know and can promise you with 100% certainty.

34. You will keep facing the same lesson over and over again in relationships until you learn how to heal yourself and move on. Don’t believe me? Ask your best friend about your dating pattern.

35. Learn from the obstacles. Look back at those cringey relationships and exes and the things that have happened to you, and know that all along, they were preparing you for something better.

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in theHeat

26 May 2023

native of Miami, Karla Martinez left “The Sunshine State” for the Sun City with her family in middle school and proudly attended Andress High School. Fluent in Portuguese, which stems from her Brazilian roots, she describes her family’s relocation as that of her parents simply looking for a change. Fast forward, Martinez would not only make El Paso her permanent home, this would become the place where she would, ultimately, risk her life for her fellow El Pasoans.

driving force. I wanted to prove them wrong, and I wanted to prove it to myself.”

In fact, it was Martinenz’s own mother, Waldicir Oliveira, who urged her to consider a career as a firefighter. Her mother was a police dispatcher and understood the

Yet, despite the challenges, Martinez’s career has stood the test of time in her rare role and is now approaching a significant 30year mark come 2024 -- a huge milestone for any firefighter.

The physical demands were a major consideration for such an undertaking, both in terms of initially qualifying for the job and in executing the work. Still, Martinez raised the bar for herself over the years through a balancing act of intense cross fit training and running, which has kept her ahead of the curve. In terms of lifting heavy equipment, fire hoses and ladders in particular, and let’s not forget the heroic act of rescuing others,

At 51 years of age, Martinez celebrates her 29th anniversary with the El Paso Fire Department (EPFD) in 2023. She embarked on her newfound career as the first-ever female in our city to pass the physical exam for admission into the El Paso Fire Training Academy in 1992 and later became the third female firefighter to graduate from the

Naturally, this raises the question of what drove Karla to consider a career in a still largely male-dominated field and where the occupational risks are life-threatening.

“I knew there would be men that would say, ‘Women aren’t supposed to be here’,” she explains. “The challenge was my

monetary benefits of being a city employee. The opportunities for women firefighters have long existed, but as Martinez knows firsthand, there was always -- and still remains -- a stigma surrounding this notion.

Today, there are only 22 women firefighters of the entire 937 firefighters in the city of El Paso, which speaks volumes to this reality.

which might very well mean carrying a large individual to safety, Martinez has winningly met the demands.

Of course, the emotional demands can be just as burdensome. Take the horrific events 27

of the mass shooting at the Cielo Vista area Walmart in El Paso on August 3, 2019 that killed 23 people.

The impeccable timing of ‘Pumper 20,’ which is Karla’s direct company within the EPFD and the first on the scene, led one bystander to run baby Paul Anchondo, straight into the arms of Martinez, who then rushed the then

quote by Confucius: “Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”

Something Martinez also loves to do is sing.

What some might not know is that behind the mighty uniform is a woman blessed with

Anthem at the first-ever ‘State of the City’ address on April 19, 2023 at the El Paso Convention Center.

There has always been talk regarding the idea of beauty and brains, and Martinez not only met her objective of “proving them wrong,” she’s the total package of beauty, brains and also, bravery. This is not something any of us can buy and -- for many -- bravery is something that doesn’t come naturally. This makes the feat of becoming a woman firefighter a remarkable example of what it means to push the envelope.

Martinez could have already retired at age 45, but she’s still going strong. She jokes that she could not retire or otherwise she’d “go nuts.”

2-month old directly to UMC. Thankfully, the baby survived the bullet that grazed his arm, however, his mother, Jordan Anchondo, died along with her husband, Andre Anchondo, while protecting their son from the shooter.

The emotional roller coasters that any firefighter faces have seemed to make Martinez only more determined to lead the pack.

She asserts that although a fire department may never be realistically composed of both men and women, equally, she believes the future looks bright for women firefighters.

“I love what I do, day in and day out,” she says and follows that with the well-known

the gift of voice. From singing in church choirs to a passion for karaoke, Martinez has headlined several popular local bands, including Red Ruby, which had a fantastic, 8-year run here in town. Quite impressively, she’s had a steady gig singing the National Anthem for a few years at Speaking Rock Entertainment Center and for several years at the El Paso Chihuahuas games for their annual ‘First Responders Appreciation Night.’

She’s also sung at a few El Paso City Council events and was personally invited by Mayor Oscar Leeser to sing our National

Not surprisingly, she encourages women to consider joining the fire department.

She recommends visiting a local fire station and taking a look at the equipment, as well as visiting the training academy. She urges those women to get in tip-top shape, especially in the upper body where most of the body is utilized while on the job.

Of course, Martinez also speaks candidly about the need for women who are considering a career in the fire department to be realistic with themselves in terms of both the physical and emotional demands of the job. Although there will be some women,

28 May 2023
Hero Rises in the Heat

like her, who may very well meet and exceed those demands, she unabashedly points out that women are simply not cut from the same cloth as men, at least in terms of physical strength. The emotional demands will undoubtedly test anyone in this line of work at any given time.

Still, she describes the tough, physical aspects of the job as being an “everyday thing.”

Even so, this is a woman who lays her life on the line each and every day for us all, and does so with an indiscriminate heart and the determination of someone who, indeed, is a real life hero to our city.

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The of

LADIES Federal Law Enforcement


In 1972, a cohort of mostly male students at the FBI Academy recognized that the Bureau was forever changed and saw red -- in the shape of a female form -- as Joanne Pierce Misko and Susan Roley Malone, the first women special agents reported for training in Quantico, Virginia when the Bureau began accepting applications from women. Until then, the FBI maintained that women were not physically equipped for the rigors of being a special agent, which includes making arrests, participating in raids, and engaging in self defense.

Up until that point, women who applied would receive rejection letters signed by

President J. Edgar Hoover, whose decision it was to exclude women from the FBI for roles other than secretarial positions. It wasn’t until after Hoover’s death that women were permitted to apply, and today, copies of Hoover’s infamous rejection letters are often given to women once they’re hired to signify how far women have come.

Today, there are more than 2,600 female special agents who serve and lead the FBI’s counterterrorism,

cyber, counterintelligence, and criminal squads. Despite the FBI’s acceptance of women for more than 50 years, they continue to face stigma and inequality.

At the FBI El Paso Division, women occupy a multitude of roles that are dispelling stigma surrounding women in law enforcement, while also inspiring younger generations.

The City Magazine sat down with Special Agent Jeanette Harper, equipment specialist Elvira Flores, and supervisory intelligence analyst Veronica Stockard to discuss breaking glass ceilings in the FBI, while also contributing to catching bad guys.

“When I was in Quantico, I had classmates tell me that I didn’t belong there,” says Harper. So, it really kind of just pushed me to show them wrong. Like, ‘I deserve to be here just as much as you do. And I’m probably better than you.’ There are a lot of different aspects that women bring to the table.”

Flores is one of the only women auto mechanics within the Bureau but plays a pivotal role, literally ensuring the wheels keep rolling. The FBI El Paso Division has 117 agents who are issued vehicles that Flores and two other mechanics provide regular maintenance to and fix if involved in an accident.

“If not for them, we wouldn’t be out on the streets, conducting surveillance, and our specialty vehicles would not be functional,” explains Harper. “She has a very important role as far as keeping us out on the streets of the community.”

For Flores, it’s all about teamwork.

“Knowing that I’m helping catch the bad guys,” says Flores, “is a win-win for me.”

Flores has been with the FBI as an auto mechanic for a decade and says that she remains the only female mechanic she’s encountered.

mechanics from other states. I’ve not had one issue with disrespect or any doubt as to my abilities,” she says.

The FBI launched its Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2012 to provide guidance and implement programs that promote diverse and inclusive workplaces for its employees.

“The FBI’s efforts to diversify are crucial to creating an inclusive workforce and to being increasingly effective and efficient in our investigations and keeping the American public safe,” says Scott McMillion, FBI Chief Diversity Officer.

The impact of women in the FBI has enhanced the Bureau’s mission and priorities.

“We have a different perspective and how we look at things or combat things. We bring that to the table and have been able to achieve a higher level than before,” says Harper.

In El Paso, women born and raised in the community are able to give back by working for the FBI and contribute to positive change.

“I grew up in a law enforcement household, but I was determined to not work in law enforcement,” explains Stockard. “But as I was going through grad school, I needed a job, so I started working for the sheriff’s department and loved it. I think I just ended up where I needed to be.”

Stockard’s work as an intelligence analyst involves gathering and interpreting information in an investigation that assists the agents in making an arrest.

“I will say though, I have not had one problem with any of the mechanics that I’ve met. We have trainings, and so I get to meet the other

“Intel tends to be primarily female. It’s an interesting, almost like a sibling dynamic sometimes between as and the agents,” says Stockard. “But for intel, recently we’ve

32 May 2023
the ladies of federal law enforcement
“Surround yourself with good people, supportive people, because you always have the naysayers, especially if you’re going to get into a role that is typically male.”

seen more women rise to high levels within the Bureau. It’s an exciting time because we are promoting higher and we’re starting to be at the same level as the agents, but now we have women in those roles.”

Despite the rise of women within the FBI, stigma still exists that special agents like Harper use to their advantage.

“Many people are used to seeing males in that role,” she explains. “So they assume that you’re going to be wearing a pantsuit, but when you show up in a dress, they’re like ‘Wait a minute, women agents can wear a dress?’ That’s not the persona people think of as an agent, so we bring all sorts of different feminine energy towards that role that a lot of people are not used to, which also works in our favor. I can be out on surveillance and I’ll look like a soccer mom and nobody will know I’m undercover.”

Harper was the first in her family to graduate college, with her sister and stepsister following in her academic footsteps shortly after. Although able to go undercover, Harper and her female colleagues are also in the spotlight as role models to their communities and families as examples of women who took a chance at flight and soared.

“Growing up as just a poor kid from Lower Valley, I never saw myself working for the FBI,” says Flores. “That was not something you saw on TV. You didn’t see female mechanics on TV. I’m glad that I listened to myself, and said ‘Just do it. If it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, you tried.’”

Flores, Harper, and Stockard are all incredibly proud of their personal and professional accomplishments within the FBI and encourage other women to consider a career as a federal law enforcement officer:

“Women, in general, we underestimate ourselves -- we underestimate our full potential. I think we have to work on that in order to be that strong, independent person. Because once you overcome that, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to,” says Harper.

“I think the proudest day was the day I got sworn in at Quantico, and I will never forget that feeling of just complete pride. I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest as we’re getting sworn in,” says Stockard.

“Surround yourself with good people, supportive people, because you always have the naysayers, especially if you’re going to get into a role that is typically male,” says Flores. “You want to surround yourself with people who are going to encourage you and you know most importantly is is to work on yourself and to be a strong person on your own.”

May 2023
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Women In Business Profiles

Welcome to the wonderful world of women in business! This month, we’re showcasing some of El Paso’s leading ladies from a variety of industries that range from insurance and tech, to beauty and wellness, to restaurants and sweets -- and so much more. The women in the pages to follow embody El Paso’s entrepreneurial spirit and are breaking glass ceilings to take the city to new heights.

38 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Ana Square Microblading and Permanent Makeup 5758 N.Mesa El Paso, TX 79912 (915) 525-4068 @anasquaremicroblading Ana Square Microblading and Permanent Makeup

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in Permanent Makeup and Microblading. I do eyebrows, lips, eyeliner, areola reconstruction, scalp micropigmentation, removals, and scar corrections.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

I am very proud to be a local Hispanic woman in business, and strive to stay updated with trends in Permanent Makeup, while making sure clients receive the best result. I have worked to master corrections and neutralizations to improve, correct or remove any work that clients might come to me with.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

I take my time to explain how the procedure will be, what the healing process can look like, and what the realistic outcome will be. I enjoy when clients ask questions, because this is the time that I have to make sure they go back home and follow an aftercare protocol feeling confident.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

I never thought my career could be so rewarding. It is not just a cosmetic treatment; it is a procedure that can change people’s lives. It is about making your daily makeup routine easier, it is about feeling confident in your own skin, and enhancing the natural beauty, but it is also about feeling like your own self.

40 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS AlePo Ink 5959 Gateway Blvd W, El Paso, TX, 79925 @thestudio_creatives

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in fine line tattoos and linear abstract mixed media art. My two businesses go hand in hand and I couldn’t really have one without the other. On a daily basis I create art, the only constant change is the canvas on which I create.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

The fact that I may fit into the stereotype of an artist but I definitely don’t look like what you’d expect for a tattoo artist to look like. I believe in taking risks, adding your style to things, keeping true to yourself, changing people's small and taboo thoughts when it comes to tattoos and art in general.

Why should a reader turn to you for their business needs?

My businesses are based on the connection I form with people and their stories. I enjoy listening, conversing, understanding and creating something custom to put on their bodies or inside their homes.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

One of the most rewarding aspects would have to be the fact that I’m proving to little baby AlePo that it is possible. I can only hope to inspire others to follow their passion, lead with heart and not let fear or doubt get in the way of the big picture. Art goes beyond ink on paper, or skin in my case, it unites people through feelings and memories.

Photographed by:
AlePo Art
42 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Sarah Byrne, Byrne Flips (901) 605-4010 BUSINESS HOURS By Appt Only Mon-Friday 9-10
SPECIAL ADVERTISING | 43 Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Sarah Byrne, Byrne Flips (901) 605-4010 BUSINESS HOURS By Appt Only Mon-Friday 9-10
Borderland Bail Bonds 425 Myrtle Ave El Paso Texas 79901 (915) 542-1911 44 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING
Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Borderland Bail Bonds

What do you specialize in?

All aspects of the bail industry, interviewing, selling bail bonds, specialize in high-risk bonds and all legal dealings with the county.

What sets you apart as women in business?

We are a unique diverse company that’s led by woman with over 30 years of experience combined.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

Customer service is our specialty because we are empathetic and sympathetic to all our clients’ needs during the bail process.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

The opportunity to help our community understand the bail process and the satisfaction of helping people during their stressful and traumatic time dealing with their loved ones.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
46 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: JORDAN LICON sipawayep Sip Away EP. A Horse Trailer Bar Sip Away: A Horse Trailer Bar (915) 235-6767

Sip Away: A Horse Trailer Bar

What do you specialize in?

We are a fully equipped and customizable mobile bar that specializes in serving your favorite beverages at your most memorable events.

What sets you apart as women in business?

We are lucky to be a part of the mobile bar industry which is unique in itself. Half of our job is physical, hard work and the other half is us getting to show our creative and dainty side.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

We put the ease into planning your beverage menu for all of life's events! We help plan, customize, execute and deliver drinks from mocktails to cocktails, for all parties, from backyard to venues!

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

Getting to meet our clients! We are a part of our community's celebrations and to watch friends and family gather around delightful drinks and 'Sip Away', is really an amazing thing to be a part of!

Photographed by: JORDAN LICON

San Lorenzo Adult Provider Services and pediatrics

What do you specialize in?

I specialize in administering a Home Health Care Agency like no other, one that cares for its patients like family and prioritizes them daily no matter the situation. Our attendants help with all personal assistance services such as bathing, dressing, grooming, hair and skin care, exercising, transferring, escorting, meal preparation, cleaning, walking, toileting, and shopping, medication reminders, as well as post-surgical care.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

What sets me apart as a woman in business is the admirable way in which I manage taking care of both my employees and my patients in a delicate yet consistent manner.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

Readers may confidently turn to me for their business needs, trusting that I will be there for them at a level no other administrator will. I strive to help people in a delicate yet consistent way, guiding them with the highest level of patient care.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

The deep personal satisfaction of knowing that every one of my patients is being well taken care of and understood in their every need. Serving the community has brought me much gratification and constantly motivates me.

50 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Grounded Healing and Wellness 5625 Woodrow Bean Suite 129 El Paso, TX 79924 (915) 355-5874

What do you specialize in?

I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor in Texas. I work with adults struggling with anxiety, depression, life adjustments, and grief to name a few.

What sets you apart as a women in business?

Empathy and genuineness is at the forefront of everything I do. I chose to help others when they need it the most, regardless of where they are financially. I’s important for me to do right by clients.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

I understand the hardships and challenges our beloved community faces in achieving upward mobility. My clients trust me to help with their emotional well-being keeping their best interests first.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

A client leaving my office in a better place can carry positive energy to those around them. That ripple effect allows me to “play a part in healing my corner of the world.” That is a true honor.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Danielle Gardea, Grounded Healing and Wellness
52 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: JORDAN LICON GAL Fashion 5860 N. Mesa St #114 El Paso, TX 79912, (915) 300-0010 galfashion

What do you specialize in?

GAL Fashion

GAL is a high-end contemporary store based in El Paso. Founded in 2016, GAL features the most eclectic mix of known and emerging designers in the city and brings a unique personal shopping service both in-store and to your home. Our team is made of professional stylists who are deeply passionate about customer relationships and fashion.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

Each piece of clothing and every accessory is hand-curated by our founder and expert stylist, Gesuina Legaspy. Gesuina has worked in the fashion industry since she was a teen, learning about every aspect of the business in order to deliver unparalleled style and service to the El Paso community.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

Our knowledgeable stylists will use their expertise on the latest styles and trends, accentuating your personal style to put together a great outfit or find the perfect accessory.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

I love empowering our customers with the confidence that comes with looking and feeling their best!

Photographed by: JORDAN LICON

1810 Taqueria & Borracheria

1441 N Zaragoza Rd #3, #4 El Paso, TX 79936

(915) 307-5453

What is your specialty?

1810 came to fruition after the realization that the El Paso region needed a place where friends and family can gather to indulge in authentic tacos while enjoying live entertainment. Every guest is greeted with a serving of our traditional sopita de fideo. Our top-selling specialties are as follows:

• Tacos de tripita-worked and slowly grilled, not deep fried

• Tacos Al-Pastor-seasoned with original seasoning straight from Mexico City

• Flautas- shredded beef rolled in a corn tortilla

• Costilla carrillera- thin, delicious cheek rib

Why should readers turn to your for their needs?

We offer a wide variety of specials, to include our $1 Taco Tuesdays (Pastor Tacos). If one is in search of satisfying their craving for authentic Mexican food and live entertainment, 1810 is your place. What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

Witnessing families and friends enjoy the food and the atmosphere at 1810 is most rewarding. We strive to continue to provide affordable, quality food to the community we call home.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

What is your specialty?

At GamwellTech, we specialize in providing top-notch managed services and cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. We bring a unique perspective to the IT and security industries, fostering an inclusive and diverse work environment that encourages innovation and collaboration.

What sets your apart as a woman in business?

Being a woman in business, especially in the male-dominated technology and cybersecurity sectors, has inspired me to break through barriers and strive for excellence. Our company culture, founded on empathy and empowerment, enables us to better understand the needs of our clients and develop tailored, comprehensive solutions to meet their unique requirements.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

We are confident that our clients can rely on us for their business requirements, as we are committed to providing exceptional customer service, unmatched technical proficiency, and tailor-made IT solutions. Our team of highly skilled professionals is committed to staying at the forefront of the rapidly evolving technology and cybersecurity landscape, ensuring that your business stays protected, efficient, and competitive.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

The most rewarding aspects of my job include witnessing the growth and success of our clients as a result of the services we provide and the positive impact our solutions have on their day-to-day operations. Serving the local community enables us to build long-lasting relationships with our clients and contribute to the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the area.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
Gamwell Tech 221 N Kansas, 8th Floor, El Paso, TX 79901 (915) 613-4866
Empowering Employees, Securing Data, Safeguarding Businesses.

Texas Farm Bureau Insurance

11285 Pellicano Dr, Suite D1 El Paso, TX 79936

(915) 801-0070

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, I decided to start my business in the city that I love very much. Currently, I am an insurance representative/sales and marketing/managing specialist. I am so honored to have recently become an agent for Texas Farm Bureau Insurance in El Paso County. Helping families protect their assets and themselves has been my passion for the past 20 years. My hard work and compassion begin in my home, as a wife and mother of two boys, where I receive unconditional support. The perfect blend of family and my career has allowed me to stay focused and driven in my business ventures.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

As a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent and a mother of two amazing boys, I continuously work hard. My success is due to me striving for continuous growth in all aspects of my life. My ability to speak from the heart, sharing my knowledge with my clients, and prioritizing their needs are my specialty.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

It’s extremely rewarding to know that I am able to work with the community that I know best, my home town. I enjoy working with individuals and families on pinpointing options that fit their needs. I also find joy in assisting them and building trust--ensuring they depart with a piece of mind, security and a smile on their face.

Se Habla Espanõl

What do you specialize in?

Mixed martial arts, which really just means a variety of martial arts. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, also the basis for our self-defense programs is our biggest, most popular program, and is for everyone!

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

Being a female martial arts instructor encourages other women to get the valuable training we hope they never need, but selfdefense is for everyone, and I want to encourage women of all ages to train.

Briggs Academy of MMA East: 840 Hawkins Drive Suite A-4, El Paso, TX 79915 West: 811 Southwestern Dr, El Paso, TX 79912 (915) 701-4411

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

We’re a family-owned business, my brother and I own both locations, and we welcome everyone, regardless of your goal. Fitness, fighting, self-defense—we help you build confidence and meet those goals!

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

Serving the women of El Paso truly brings me joy. As a woman doing jiu-jitsu full-time in her late forties, it’s so important to share the benefits, from building confidence, to getting fit.

Photographed by: SERGIO
58 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Merch Empire Barber & Hair Salon (915) 262-2379 1613 N. Zaragoza Suite 206 El Paso, TX 79936

Shiver Shack

4726 Woodrow Bean Transmountain, Suite B El Paso, TX 79924 (915) 444-8403

Shiver Shack 915


What do you specialize in?

Shiver Shack specializes in Snow Cones, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Single Scoop Ice Cream, Root Beer Floats, and Soft serve Ice cream cones.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

Giving me the opportunity to build something for myself. No matter my background, experience or education level. It’s taking the risk that all my hard work will pay off one day.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

The most rewarding aspect of my job is to constantly develop more skills and knowledge to succeed in the future.


Better Business Bureau El Paso

What do you specialize in?

We help businesses be the best version of themselves by encouraging and facilitating the most ethical, responsive, and customer-focused business practices in our community.

What sets you apart as women in business?

We are natural problem solvers; we never shy away from challenges; and we seek out opportunities to collaborate with like-minded people and organizations to provide the greatest value to our members.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

We help businesses stand out from the competition as trustworthy and ethical. We give businesses exposure and the tools and support to help them grow.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

Knowing that we are helping our community grow by supporting ethical and trustworthy businesses is what drives us to do our best work every day. Also, helping consumers avoid scams is rewarding.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS
550 E. Paisano El Paso, TX 79922 • (915) 577-0191 • @bbbelpaso @bbbelpaso

Anadeli Bencomo,

(915) 747-5666

What do you specialize in?

I am the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UTEP. Liberal Arts is the largest college at UTEP with more than 6,000 students specializing in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

I came to the US as an international student, and I can relate to the many immigrants who come to work and contribute to the US I come from a country where women are seen as leaders.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

Because I can offer them a broad perspective about where to invest, about the importance of educating the work force for present and future needs, about working for the common good of our society.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

Working at UTEP, a leading Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) , makes you aware of goals driven by a sense of purpose, and by a mission. Educating first-generation college students, helping them succeed is very rewarding.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

Maira Garcia, All State Insurance


5909 N. Mesta St. El Paso, Texas 79912

What do you specialize in?

Auto, Home, Commercial, Motorcycle, Landlords, Rental, Boat, and Life Insurance.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

My professionalism and desire to serve and help customers to obtain the right coverages and assist them during the time of an unexpected loss.

Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

Customer service second to none, specialized in personal needs while assisting customers with their insurance needs.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community? Building long-term personal relationships with customers and helping local cheer-teams get to national competitions.

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS

What do you specialize in?

Perfect Image Promotions is a branding management agency that provides marketing, promotional, beverage sampling and branding solutions to companies trying to reinforce their presence.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

Besides having a career in nursing and being the pageant director of Nuestra Belleza Texas, I feel PI Promotions has empowered other women by creating an atmosphere where everyone feels empowered.

Perfect Image Promotions LLC


Why should readers turn to you for their business needs?

We are not another model agency. PI Promotions exclusively commits to the assigned brands they represent. Our confident staff are trained to help raise brand awareness and increase sales.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the local community?

My business allows me to help others as we employ single mothers, fulltime students, and mothers with children by providing a healthy work-life balance and the opportunity to network while working.


What do you specialize in?

Victim services for human trafficking (sex and labor) and child exploitation victims. We provide case management, emergency shelter, advocacy, rental assistance, and food and clothing.

What sets you apart as a woman in business?

I believe I have a true passion for the cause. That I have found my calling. I work every day to be mission-driven and spread awareness of Human Trafficking and how it impacts our region.

Why should readers turn to you for their needs?

Human Trafficking can impact anyone, any age, race, religion, or ethnicity. The Center of Hope trains our community on the warning signs and risk factors and how to report any potential trafficking.

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job and serving the community?

Seeing our clients move from a crisis situation to a thriving survivor. Seeing them be able to overcome and thrive despite all they have been put through is the most rewarding aspect of my job.

(915) 503-8008

4409 Dyer Street El Paso, TX 79930-6734



Paso del Norte Center of Hope

Photographed by: SERGIO OLIVAS Norte Center of Hope

What was Letty’s specialty?

Letty was a Mary Kay Cosmetics Independent Sales Director for 22 years, always smiling and lighting up a room. Full of life and energy, she loved to talk to women about their skincare and empowering them. She earned six “free” Mary Kay cars, had a unit of men and women called, “Letty’s Leading Legends,” and won many Mary Kay awards at the Diamond Seminars in Dallas.

How will her legacy live on?

Letty was married to Tony Benitez for 39 years, meeting at State National Bank (Wells Fargo) Downtown. Letty loved dogs, she rescued two dogs that Tony is caring for now. Tony will carry on her legacy by promoting “Paws for a Cause” to support efforts to rescue dogs in the El Paso Community. Mystically, she was born in the Year of the Dog.

What are the qualities that set her apart as a business woman?

Aside from her work with Mary Kay, Letty was also the El Paso Estate Planning Council Administrator for over 19 years supporting each annual President, the Board and their membership successors. She was a sharply dressed, intelligent woman and a very motivating speaker. She was an El Paso Hispanic and El Paso Chamber member, a YWCA Leadership 2005 Class Graduate, was awarded the SBA Regional & Home Based Business Champion of the Year in 2013, was a Hospice of El Paso Celebrity Waiter and 2005 Calendar Model.

What do you want readers to know about her?

She was passionate about rescuing dogs in El Paso and diligently assisted Pawsitive Rescuers. Visit www. to make a donation in loving memory of Letty Benitez.

Photo provided by the Benitez family
Residential & Commercial HVAC Sales, Installation, and Service Preventative Maintenance and FilterFetch Air Filter Home Delivery Blown-in Insulation Installation Indoor Air Quality Services Including Air Duct Cleaning Commercial Equipment Sales, Service, and Repair Mobile Walk-in Cooler/Freezer Smart Home Product Sales and Installation WE KEEP YOU COOL DURING THE HOT EL PASO SUMMER And more! (915) 598-1732 7241 Stiles Dr. El Paso,TX 79915 Serving El Paso Since 1981 CALL HVAC EXPERTS TODAY!

Palo Verde Homes Building Strong Foundations for Women

Home is where the heart is, and strengthening the community is at the heart of Palo Verde Homes’ mission. Palo Verde has been established in El Paso and southern New Mexico since 2007 and is committed to providing quality in each step of the home building process, while also growing the expertise of each team member and being a champion of women in the home building and construction industry.

“Having the ability to help run such a successful company and work with such an amazing team is empowering and gratifying,” says Claudia Jimenez, Vice President of Operations at Palo Verde. “I love problem solving and implementing new processes and procedures. This position has had an immense impact on my personal and professional growth,” she adds.

Palo Verde has a winning history of success that is built on a foundation of teamwork, and was voted Builder of the Year in El Paso in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2021, and 2022.

“We are such a close-knit group, my second family. We truly enjoy spending time together outside of work. Our team building events and incentive reward festivities are always so much fun,” says Raquel Montiel, Controller at Palo Verde.

Palo Verde builds homes across the Borderland, including East, West, and Northeast El Paso, Horizon City, Socorro, and Sunland Park, and develops new skills with each team member.

“I had never worked on a computer, nor did I have an email address when I began this journey nine years ago! I have come a long way with the continued support and encouragement of our team,” says Gina Valdivia, Operations Assistant.

The ladies of Palo Verde are also building opportunities for fellow women in the home building and construction industry and encouraging a sense of sisterhood.

“Being a woman in a predominantly male industry means the world to me,” says Erica Puente, Operations Assistant. “I want my granddaughters to grow up believing that they can be anything.”

Each day, team members at Palo Verde knows they are making a positive difference.

“My job makes me feel empowered everyday as I’m able to bring joy to our customers

who feel overwhelmed by not knowing what design selections to make,” says Rocio Mendoza, Operations Assistant, who holds a bachelor’s in Architecture. “I listen to the ideas they have, then guide them to design a home that they will love.”

Palo Verde is proud of its record of success, as well as the positive outlook of its team.

“I admire all of my Palo Verde sisters for their dedication, hard work, and friendship,” says Carissa Montiel, Chief Operating Officer, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems and a master’s in Business Administration. “We truly support and trust each other in all aspects of work and personal life. It’s just a great feeling to know that they are always there to back you up with work and also for a hug!”

Putting a lot of LOVE into every home we build.
Photography by Sergio Olivas

The Magic & Magnetism of


May 2023
Editorial photography by: JORDAN LICON photos courtesy of: MARINA MONSISVAIS |


There are moments at every concert -every good concert -- when the audience knows something is about to happen. Something big, something that sends the building rocking and rolling with waves of excitement. The anticipation is as real as sweat on skin, the thrill of which beats like a drum, coalescing the moment into something magical and magnetic. While scientists and businessmen have yet to bottle this type of electricity -- the kinetic energy of potential -one woman embodies it.

Marina Monsisvais is an El Paso entrepreneur who is behind the scenes and ahead of the curve when it comes to all things cool.

Monsisvais and her team at Barracuda Public Relations have been instrumental to El Paso’s development and continue to assist the city in achieving its potential through leading by example.

“I started Barracuda Public Relations in 2010,” she says. “It was me, the laptop, my

kitchen table and a friend who worked with me. We’ve always been a city with potential, but I could tell we were actually about to grow into our potential. And I thought it was the right time to start this type of business.”

Monsisvais isn’t afraid to take a leap of faith -- she dives right in.

“I’m the kind of person that’s always started things but never for myself (until Barracuda),” she explains during our cover shoot. “When I was in college, I noticed there wasn’t any punk on the college radio station. I walked in and was like, ‘I need a punk show.’ And they’re like, ‘Who are you?’”

Monsisvais grew up as a self-proclaimed free range kid in LA’s Inglewood neighborhood and moved back to El Paso with her family in 1992. As if moving 800 miles from the ocean to the desert wasn’t enough, she was also moving from middle school to high school.

72 May 2023
I like being the underdog,
A tattooed woman with funky hair who people never saw coming.

“Everything sucks when you’re 14, but everything sucks more when you’re 14 and don’t know anybody,” she recalls. “I felt like I was this alien that landed. But the other thing that I learned really quickly that has served me very well is that you can do anything here. You can literally do anything in El Paso.”

Such as asking her college radio station for her own punk show, but not before proving herself by cutting her teeth on a gig that wasn’t punk rock whatsoever.

“I had to DJ country music at 7am on Mondays and Wednesdays,” she laughs.

Not long after, she began covering live shows in El Paso for “Stanton Street,” Beto O’Rourke’s alt-weekly that launched in 2002, as music editor.

“I was the music editor and photographer covering the music scene. We started from scratch with no idea how to run a business, but we knew what kind of content should be consumed,” says Monsisvais.

“Stanton Street ‘’ evolved from a digital e-zine to a 15-issue print run during a period of growth in the community in the early 2000s. Since then, Monsisvais has remained in the local music scene while also establishing herself as a local leader.

“In all the years I’ve known her, one thing that comes through strongly and consistently about Marina is how incredibly loyal to El Paso she is. She’s made it her mission to promote the great work and amazing individuals coming out of this city to the rest of the world as well as to her fellow El Pasoans,” O’Rourke tells The City Magazine. “She does it passionately, whether she’s taking in a show at a local venue, hosting a conversation on her KTEP program ‘State of the Arts’ or through her PR firm, where she harnesses her creativity and confidence in her clients to help them realize their goals. El Paso is lucky to have her.”

While often in the spotlight (or behind the scenes) at shows and other community activities, Monsisvais also has a family life.

She met her husband, dentist Dr. Paul Ro, in true rock and roll style but with an El Paso twist.

“We met at a rock climbing event at Hueco Tanks. Where we were we had a concert in the middle of the canyon surrounded by pro rock climbers who were climbing the canyon; I was in charge of curating the music and booking the bands for the show. Paul was a rock climber and a volunteer belayer, getting all the climbers up and down. We were at the after party, and he gave me cuts on the corn line,” she says.

Today, Monsisvais and Dr. Ro have been married for more than 16 years that have been filled with adventures, rescue dogs, and many, many, concerts that help lay the foundation for her (and El Paso’s) future.

“After we got married, I went to work at UTEP Special Events, where I did a lot of the concerts and events with that team,” she says. “That’s where I decided that I needed to do my own thing.”

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but Monsisvais navigates the businessworld with aplomb -- and on her own terms.

“I like being the underdog,” she says. “A tattooed woman with funky hair who people never saw coming,” she says of the early days at the helm of Barracuda Public Relations.

Today, she’s hard to miss and impossible to ignore -- neither of which has anything to do with her fiery hair or unique body ink.

Since its inception in 2010, Barracuda Public Relations has been leading through innovation, technical expertise, and genuine desire to do good in the community.

A few accolades include being the first agency in Texas certified by the National Institute for Social Media and recipient 73
74 May 2023 The Magic & Magnetism of Marina Monsisvais
When I’m in El Paso, I feel strong, powerful, and smart, all that stuff. I just don’t feel as in my own skin anywhere else like I do here.

of the 2017 Governor’s Small Business Award, with recent projects in collaboration with Spaceport America, the I-10 Connect Project, and establishing Castner Range as a national monument.

“I’m most proud of having built a business that functions on purpose,” says Monsisvais. “We’re purpose driven before profits, and the profits follow because we’re working passionately, we’re working with purpose, and with people and projects we care about. We work with heart and that is reflected in our work.”

Her business ethos of putting people first and following her heart was influenced by her family.

“We’re first generation, my parents are both from Juarez. My dad is one of twelve and was the only one to get a college degree,” she says. “He knew he wanted to be an engineer, so he went to UTEP. His decision to go to college changed our lives completely.”

Monsisvais’ upbringing in and understanding of the community have helped her cultivate a unique lifestyle that is as fun as it is fulfilling. When she’s not using her foresight to improve the community, she keeps her hands busy and body moving.

“I’m a vinyl DJ, so I play records with my friends,” she says. “With lots of dance parties. Tons of dance parties: sometimes with people; sometimes just me, Paul Ro and the dogs; sometimes we have six people dance parties -- total silliness.”

She’s also taken up ceramics, molding items out of clay and enjoying the process that involves unplugging for a few hours.

“Sundays are sacred. That’s when I spend my time in the ceramics studio. Just building and getting lost in the clay. You literally have

to get your hands full of clay and can’t look at your phone,” she explains.

With a lifetime of memories and the world at her feet, Monsisvais remains grounded and grateful to the Borderland for its influence on her.

“When I’m in El Paso,” she explains, “I feel strong, powerful, and smart, all that stuff. I am the most comfortable in my skin when I’m here.”

Like the ceramics she creates each Sunday, she’s molded a life that’s enriched with culture, strengthened by community, and sustained by a willingness to dirty the hands -- even if the final shape is unknown.

“My advice to young women is to know that you don’t have to know what you want to be or what you want to do, don’t be afraid of the journey—not knowing the end is the best part. A lot of folks really spend a lot of time questioning themselves and not taking action out of fear,” she says.

Taking action doesn’t always require having a concrete plan, but it does require a foundation built on self awareness and confidence.

“Once you realize that the things that make you different are actually your superpower and you embrace them,” says Monsisvais, “you’re good to go.”

For now, she’s enjoying her time as she continues to grow Barracuda Public Relations by identifying and cultivating strengths, then helping them shine.

‘I have zero value if I’m telling people what to do versus pulling out what they bring to the table and making them comfortable enough to bring it,” Monsisvais says. “Our job is to make other people shine. That’s all I need.” May 2023


| Words and photos by: JADE RACHELLE CARRASCO |

Selah Salon and Spa, illuminated by the borderland sunsets, captivates the grand and ravishing journeys of being a woman. The freeing evolutions within ourselves, liberating strengths, and empowering decisions made. Individually, but also as one. We are gifted with the lavishing, divine prosperities of womanhood. Thus, a place we can call home, “Selah,” owned by Cathy Emfinger.

With clients who have been coming back for over 20 years, Selah embarks on highlighting the quality of lives through beauty and individuality. Not only did she bring fragments of the island to the deserts, she also carried her spirituality tightly, and poetically.

Selah, found in the Hebrew Psalms, is part of many interludes and melodies. “We wanted a place, especially for women, to have a pause in their lives. Like an interlude, where the word Selah is found in harmonic Hebrew melodies,” says Emfinger.

Entrepreneur, business owner, mother, grandmother, daughter, and an inspiration to the expression of staying true, fearless, and gracious.

From a small country town in mid-Texas, surrounded by cowboy boots and wranglers, Emfinger was raised by an entirety of women. Her grandmother, Eula Pearl Cagle, influenced her with independence and wisdom.

“She was the wisest person I have ever known. Such a wise woman, always there to encourage, to correct, if needed. I’m very thankful for her,” says Emfinger.

Emfinger, alongside her husband, during the early 70s, discovered the radiance beyond the Franklin Mountains, known as El Paso, Texas. Military Base, Fort Bliss, primarily granted her family the proper treatment from hospital William Beaumont for her oldest son, diagnosed with spina bifida. El Paso carried the proper specialists and treatments. After 77

a six-year departure to Hawaii from 1982 through 1988, she always found herself back home, where she was saluted with golden opportunities for her and her family.

The admiration from the women throughout her childhood, Emfinger, with tranquility and solidity, continued the legacy. An everlasting appreciation towards El Paso, “It is not just the delicious food, but the people. It always felt like coming back home.”

Her two sons, Page and Chance, daughter Shama, all carry their mother’s courage.

Landmarking the felicity of following your dreams. When returning to El Paso, Hawaii was brought to the city. “My husband used to always jokingly encourage me to open up my own salon.”

This led to the birth of Selah Salon and Spa in 2001 after returning in 1990, alongside her daughter Shama. Correlating with the

May 2023
A Self-Care Sanctuary Special Events Art Exhibits Concerts Parties Films And MORE Find out about: CHeck us out! learn more at: Contact Mari VanPelt at Trying to add events? 915.225.0265 Locally Owned & The most up-to-date calendar in El Paso CALENDAR POST YOUR EVENT ON OUR CALENDAR!

ambiance of the island, the doors opened with luxuriance.

Turquoise among the perimeter, metallic shears, wooden floors, and peace. “I didn’t realize until a friend of mine pointed it out. Blinds blue like the sky, chairs blue like the water, and floors representing the sand. Subconsciously I think I brought some of the island with me,” explains Emfinger.

As an entrepreneur, her perceptivity emboldens women of all ages and backgrounds to rejoice their passions, no matter how far or grand they seem to be.

According to Emfinger, maintaining your faith, hard-work, and bravery are worth the “hills and valleys.”

When asked about any advice she would give to women passionate about opening up their own salon or business she says,

“Be prepared. It is hard work. Although it is a beautiful thing from both inside and out, there is a financial aspect to it, in which you must be prepared for the ups and downs. However, it is a great opportunity that is without question worth it.”

For example, fostering her granddaughter’s self-made business Kazmira Emfinger, owner and nail technician of salon “La Cure Nails and Beauty.”

What fulfills Emfinger the most is the potential she sees in others and contingency to selflessly spread positivity with clients that are considered to be family.

“A lot of people told me not to do it,” she says. “They would ask me if I was sure about my decision. But I was obedient to the Lord’s path for me. Close doors that needed to be closed and open the ones that needed to be opened. I was told that I wouldn’t be able to open within six months, or shouldn’t have

gotten my first small business loan, but everything fell into place.”

Twenty-two years later, Selah has been consistently recognized throughout the city of El Paso.

“The clients are the ones who vote; therefore, it means so much because we are being recognized by the ones we serve.”

As women, we are born with a natural sense of clarity. To have ownership in what we work hard for, determination for triumph and success. But also, the choice to be anything or anyone we strive to be.

“We are naturally compassionate. We not only build each other up, but people in general. We look at people’s hearts. Though we may be different, we are all equal,” says Emfinger of Selah, a place that welcomes all that makes us women.

May 2023
A Self-Care Sanctuary

Building with

May 2023
80 Beauty
| By: ERIN COULEHAN photos courtesy of: THE FACE ARCHITECT |

One of the most glamorous rites of passage for women around the world are beauty rituals that are shaped during childhood and evolve with each stage of life. From playing dress up with mom’s or an older sister’s cosmetics, to devotedly following and adhering to trends during adolescence, to developing a go-to look for day or night as an adult -- many experiences are built around beauty, and a local makeup artist is shaping El Paso’s beauty landscape one face at a time.

Salathia Graham Tankuh is a U.S. Army veteran whose love of makeup is enhancing the Borderland while also developing confidence and inner beauty with her makeup studio, The Face Architect.

“My earliest memories are of playing in my mother’s makeup when I was a little girl,” says Graham Tankuh. “Even though it used to get me into trouble with her, I couldn’t stay away from it. I love being able to do different things with makeup. Growing up, I was tomboyish but I was the only tomboy girl with a face full of makeup. It’s something that has been with me ever since I was a little girl and has followed me all the way up into adulthood.”

Originally from Savannah, Georgio, Graham Tankuh first came to El Paso when she was in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort Bliss in 2001. She left in 2006 but later returned with a goal to create positive change.

“One of the things I do love is to build,” says Graham Tankuh. “Whether it’s building something physically or helping people to build their confidence and belief in themselves wasn’t built into the beauty industry. That’s where I got the concept of the face architect.”

Graham Tankuh says that she craved a creative outlet to express herself during her time in the U.S. Army and that applying glam makeup on herself was a way to decompress.

“It felt good when I wasn’t in uniform,” she says. “I wasn’t on duty, and was able to express my individuality.”

During her time of service, Graham Tankuh recalls facing strict limits regarding selfexpression and grooming.

“Back when I was in, you couldn’t wear red lipstick in uniform. You couldn’t wear certain

81 May 2023

El Paso is the perfect melting pot when it comes to beauty.

colors when it comes to your nails. You could not wear, fake eyelashes, and there were only certain hairstyles that we could have,” she says.

The U.S. Army announced progressive policy changes in 2021 that align with its mission for diversity and inclusion that includes expanding hairstyles, makeup, and jewelry options to better suit the modern soldier.

“We’ve been going through all the regulations to figure out how we can improve the standards and policies that we have to make sure that they are fair and equitable for all soldiers, and so that we can obviously get the best talent in the Army,” said Sergeant Major Brian Sanders of the Uniform Policy Branch when the policy changes were announced.

Now, women soldiers may wear nail polish and lipstick that present a professional appearance and are not considered extreme.

The changes were decided on by a panel of 12 Army commands, soldiers of various ranks, dermatologists, a psychologist, a drill sergeant, a recruiter, and other Army representatives that examined the evolution of grooming standards and considered ways to be more welcoming to women who serve.

“Our attrition rates for females are higher than males,” explained Sanders, “and as we started looking into these things, we realized that they need to feel like a female and soldier at the same time.”

Graham Tankuh attests to the cognitive dissonance she felt as both a woman and a soldier with little autonomy to express herself.

“Being so limited during the time, I felt that hunger for wanting to do more with makeup and it really played a huge role,” she says. “It wasn’t so much that we were deprived of May 2023
Building with Beauty

beauty -- it just made me want to do it more and made me want to be around it more.”

Now as a small business owner, Graham Tankuh is able to feed her passion for beauty one client at a time.

“What I love most about what I do is when someone is in my chair and the client becomes like family,” she says. “You find out a lot about people: you find out about their triumphs and their troubles.”

One of the most rewarding aspects of The Face Architect is building the client’s confidence in themselves during the glam session.

“It’s not that the client has makeup put on and looks completely different,” explains Graham Tankuh. “You can actually feel a lift in confidence.”

For example, Graham Tankuh says she has a few clients who will book beauty sessions with her for no reason at all other than to have a conversation and to feel beautiful, which also helps her to refine her craft.

“El Paso has allowed me to spread my wings. El Paso allows me not just to build clientele, but it also allows me to hone myself as an artist,” she says.

Working in El Paso has allowed her to meet the many different faces of beauty that can be found throughout the community and appreciate beauty on an individual basis.

“When it comes to make up, anybody can get these hands -- anybody. There isn’t a face that I won’t put these hands on,” Graham Tankuh laughs. “There are so many versions of beauty, which is not limited to ethnicity,” she says. “El Paso is the perfect melting pot when it comes to beauty.” May 2023
__________ 2021 2019 2018 2014 2013 ___________ BEST ITALIAN FOOD


The women of the El Paso Center for Diabetes play a crucial role in ensuring the success of their participants. Spearheaded by Executive Director Sandra Gonzalez, a dedicated team of nine work to provide a comprehensive and personalized approach to diabetes management; this includes Diabetes Self-Management Education classes, Sabrosa Vida cooking classes, and FREE walk-in A1C screenings to name a few.

The El Paso Center for Diabetes is a proud partner with Paso del Norte Health Foundation and coordinating agency for the Diabetes Alliance. If your organization would like more information about joining the Diabetes Alliance, please contact the Center.

Call the Center at (915) 532-6280 or visit

84 85 EL PASO AUSTIN HOUSTON KILLEEN (915) 849-0111 (512) 265-8629 (832) 220-5566 (512) 265-8629 Work for it Wish for it
86 May 2023

It’s always a good time to discuss one of the world’s most essential, controversial, and exciting topics: SEX! I can imagine that just seeing that word written has filled you with dread, excitement, or a mixture of the two. To relieve your emotions, one way or the other, I will approach the discussion about sex with one of my favorite things -apart from food -- MUSIC!

Hip hop group Salt-N-Pepa once said, “Let’s talk about sex, baby.” As an old guy, born in the 70s, the 90s raised me emotionally and sexually. So, let’s dive into this topic using some of the hottest hip hop references from the 1990s.

You may say, well, why hip hop?

Why not?

Hip hop, for many, has defined the world around us and provided a soundtrack for our lives, sometimes even while having sex. The evolution of sexuality in hip hop has been dramatic and multifaceted in its influence. As hip hop has grown from an underground movement to a multi-billion dollar industry, artists’ lyrical content frequently references sex, sexual health, and HIV/STI prevention. No longer limited to primary motivations such as pleasure and attraction, hip hop

has created a dialogue about sexuality in a complex and more profound way, addressing topics such as virginity, expression of identity, AIDS, gender fluidity, and consent. By exploring sexuality in its lyrics, hip hop has broken down taboos and helped promote a culture of safe sex and sexual health awareness.

Therefore, the history of sexuality in hip hop is integral to understanding how it has shaped music culture and influenced social movements.

Namely, it is a powerful reminder of the influence music producers, artists, and
May 2023 87

fans have to discuss sexuality and its topics honestly, provocatively, and authentically. By doing so, this dialogue has become a tool for developing positive messages and increased acceptance and education about sexual health.

But music without the act is, in a sense, just fantasy.

There’s nothing wrong with sexual fantasies; however, in an evolving world where sexual rights, primarily through the “Me Too” movement, have come front and center, it’s remarkable that the great lyricist, Biggie Smalls (aka The Notorious B.I.G.), said it best, “You’re dead, wrong if you think that the sex is all about you.”

Sex should be a consensual act between two adults who are comfortable and willing to engage in it. Always ensure you have explicit consent from your


partner before engaging in any sexual activity. Consent is a conversation, and dialog about sex is critically important. Exploring what makes one’s partner comfortable and pleased is one of the key components of sexual satisfaction.

Another important aspect of sex is communication.

As the rapper Queen Latifah once said, “Ladies first,” and this applies to sexual communication as well. It’s important to talk openly and honestly with your partner about what you like and don’t like and to listen to their needs and desires.

When one talks about sex as an infectious disease physician, protection is a crucial component. The legendary rapper LL Cool J said, “Don’t be a fool; wrap your tool.”

Using protection like condoms, male or female (yes, there are female condoms) is crucial to protecting yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies. Regular STI testing compliments sexual health and comfort, leading to increased pleasure.

The 90s saw a revolution in music, with emerging genres such as hip hop and R&B sparking fruitful debates about sex and sexual health.

In this era, songs from celebrities and groups normalizing conversations around HIV and STIs to deeper discussions about consent, access to contraception, and reproductive rights, challenged societal norms and brought issues of gender identity, privileges, and power to the mainstream. During this era and the conversation about sexual education came HIV.

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Sexual Health & Hip Hop

In the hip hop community, nothing brought that home more than the diagnosis and eventual demise of Eazy E of the legendary group NWA.

Female icons from Missy Elliott, to Lil Kim, normalized female empowerment and selflove and advocated for safe sex, further inspiring a new generation of artists and revolutionizing sex in music; Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. It’s often been said that the current generation never had a marque persona living with HIV, such as Rock Hudson, Magic Johnson, or Arthur Ashe.

But the links between culture, sexuality, and politics are everywhere, and hip hop has often been front and center in this.

The group Digital Underground once said, “Doowutchyalike.” Everyone has different preferences regarding sex, and there’s no one right way to do it. It’s all

about finding what works for you and your partner and exploring each other’s desires safely and respectfully.

After all, sex is supposed to be fun.

The hip hop duo Kid ‘n Play once said, “Ain’t gonna hurt nobody.” If you’re not enjoying yourself, taking a break, switching things up, or even stopping altogether is okay.

Remember, sex should be a positive experience that brings you and your partner closer together.

I would be naive to gloss over hip hop’s controversial and misogynistic past and current state. Sexual safety and “rape culture” has sometimes been blamed on rap and hip hop. There is much to be said about how lyrics can affect young minds growing up and make it difficult to understand how consent and

conversations are the cornerstones of any relationship, sexual or otherwise.

As in all things in life, there are at least three sides -- one side, the other, and the truth. Everyone’s truth lies in their experience; good or bad. Music can provide many things to many people; the good, the bad, and the ugly. In any discussion about healthy sexuality, it’s fair to point out the role of music in creating those safe and comfortable spaces in which human beings thrive, as well as its role in creating unhealthy stereotypes. In a world where everything is contentious, politics, money, how to raise kids, healthcare, sex is something most people agree is fun, even if they don’t have enough. Some of the most important things to remember when it comes to sex, as told through the iconic hip hop references of the 1990s are to protect yourself and your partner, get explicit consent, communicate openly, and most importantly, have fun!

May 2023 Sexual Health & Hip Hop
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Girl Power UTEP Professor Named Scholar of the Year

May 2023

The course of women’s journeys in society never did run smoothly, and one distinguished El Pasoan is examining the complicated circumstances for women living on the border and gaining national recognition for her research.

Dr. Hilda Ontiveros-Arrieta, Assistant Professor and Interim Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program at UTEP was named the Southwest Institute for Research on Women (SIROW) Scholar of the Year in March 2023. The award honors scholars who have exhibited excellence in their efforts to improve the well-being of women and their communities. Ontiveros-Arrieta’s scholarship focuses on the value of women’s studies and ethnic studies programs for students in higher education who attend Hispanic-Serving Institutions like UTEP.

“I did some research through the College of Education and quantitative research on how students value Women’s and Gender Studies courses and ethnic studies courses here at a Hispanic Serving Institute,” explains Ontiveros-Arrieta. “We found that these courses actually help keep students at the university because they find it personal. They find the curriculum very personal, they connect with it. It helps them stay on campus, and we’ve even received some feedback that because of these courses, they have finished their degree. Students have attained a degree because they felt like they had a place at the university. The data pointed us in that direction and this quantitative data shows us that these courses do matter.”

Ontivervos-Arrieta’s research directly aligns with SIROW’s mission.

SIROW was founded in 1979 as a regional research institute at the University of Arizona’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. SIROW is dedicated to improving the well-being of girls, women, their families, and their communities.

Additionally, SIROW engages in community-based research and action projects that take a holistic approaches to well-being that address correlated and co-occurring social and public health issues that include:

• Legal issues: juvenile justice, legal advocacy, domestic violence, and immigration

• Education and employment: literacy, leadership, access, and workforce development

• Women’s history and the arts: representation of women, diversity of voices, and oral history

“The University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women congratulates Dr. Hilda OntiverosArrieta of the University of Texas El Paso on being awarded with a 2022/2023 SIROW Scholar Award. Dr. OntiverosArrieta’s research is geared towards understanding student perceived value of women’s and gender studies and Chicana-/o studies within Hispanic Serving

• Health and wellness: relationship and sexual health, substance misuse, mental health, and homelessness

May 2023

Institutions. Her research is in line with the mission and vision of SIROW and SIROW’s goal of promoting gender and women’s studies within institutions of higher learning in the southwest region,” says Josephine D. Korchmaros, PhD, Director of SIROW.

UTEP’s Women and Gender Studies program offers students interdisciplinary studies of women’s experiences that emphasizes historical, contemporary, and future issues faced by women and men. Additionally, the program aims to foster the development of gender equality in scholarship and the workplace in order to help students better understand the ways that knowledge, discourse, and values take different shapes for women along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“What we try to do is not only teach and provide adequate and sound curriculum for our population, but we also try to anchor ourselves in the community,” says

Ontiveros-Arrieta. “That’s really important to me: reaching out to the community and letting the community know that we exist,” she adds.

For some, feminism is still a foreign language but Ontiveros-Arrieta is working to dispel misinformation while also advocating for equality, which is the basis of feminism.

“Many believe that feminism is only for women and they forget that it’s about gender equality, which should matter to everyone. Feminism, as bell hooks mentioned, is for everyone. It benefits all genders,” she says.

The work is personal for Ontiveros-Arrieta who grew up in the Borderland where her father worked at ASARCO and her mother was a homemaker.

Today, she works to honor her family -especially the women.

“Some of my family members, my aunts, worked in the fields. They did not have access to a higher education and for me to be here now, it’s really surreal to know where my roots were, where I came from, and to make an impact,” she says.

Ontiveros-Arrieta’s erudition in women’s studies is multifaceted.

“I come from a family that’s deeply rooted in the community and a Mexican American family, that also struggled with issues of machismo,” she says. “I grew up with it -- not necessarily with my father -- but watching extended family or my siblings engage in that practice of machismo. I always felt it was wrong to see other families behave in that manner. So I started to study it.”

Before becoming earning her doctorate, she earned an undergraduate degree at UTEP, then attended the medical school

May 2023
UTEP Professor Named Scholar of the Year 94

of Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juárez, and studied abroad in Spain and Mexico. Later, Ontiveros-Arrieta returned to El Paso and began working as a faculty member for UTEP’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program after earning her second master’s degree.

But her work as a student wasn’t done there, she wanted to break down barriers for women from the Ivory Tower of academia.

“I was always very interested in asking, ‘How do we chip away at those ceilings, those bricks in the wall, how do we get rid of them? What do we study? What do we do? Now, I find myself in the perfect position to do that.”

Ontiveros-Arrieta earned her Ed.D at UTEP in educational administration in higher education before stepping into her role as Interim Director of Women’s and Gender Studies. Today, she looks toward the future while remaining grateful to the women who helped lead her to where she is.

“I feel like so many women have let me stand on their shoulders and I intend to do the same,” she says. “Let students stand on my shoulders, get their graduate degree, get their doctorate, and make things better in our community.”

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Full Ahead KELECHI ALOZIE May 2023 A Conversation with Dr.OntiverosCynthia

In honor of the Women’s issue this month, Kelechi and I interviewed the principal of the Young Women’s STEAM Research and Preparatory Academy (YWA), Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros, to discuss her journey into education and how she plans on empowering young women.

Aina Marzia

What was that first year like? How did that first year opening the school feel for you?

Dr. Ontiveros

The first year was a new experience for me as a campus principal. This is my first principal position, but much excitement and just a lot of energy for creating. You know, what we are experiencing today and building and growing and shaping it to meet the needs of our students, but excited to be able to offer opportunities for students and young women to explore STEAM and service.


Now that it’s, like you said, six years into the making, what advice would you give to young women that are here or young women thinking about going into STEM fields but are afraid to take that step?

Dr. O

I think back to when I was your age, and probably younger. I remember wanting to participate in AP courses, or specifically

just classes or clubs, and wasn’t given the opportunity because my grades weren’t where they needed to be. I was a good student, but still, I was still not allowed to take AP classes in high school, or offered. And so instead of taking AP Biology, I had to go to physics, which I love because it gave me a really strong foundation in physics. So being told no, or being told that you’re not smart enough or you don’t have the grades, when I know I had high grades. I felt like maybe the school in my system held me back in a way. I think going into college and ]taking classes where you are the only female in that computer science class. I was the only female and also being told that I wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor, a medical doctor. So those things stay in your brain. And as much 97 May 2023
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as I still had the drive and the persistence, a little part of me felt like, “Am I smart enough?” I knew that if we were going to establish a school for girls, we wanted to make sure that they’re offered whatever courses and have the experiences that I didn’t.

I want to go back to the start of this. What made you want to go into education? You said this school is your first year being a principal, what made you want to do that?

When I was growing up, I was fascinated with science and math and I always did very well. I wanted to be a medical doctor. When I was studying for the MCAT,even after I’d graduated, I was working at UTEP and the professors working with me didn’t get tenure. So I thought, “well, the next best thing I

can do is tutor or be a substitute.” I had no intention of entering the field of education. I really didn’t. But when I went to apply, I was credentialed with my degree in microbiology and a minor in chemistry, and the human resources director said, “You can be a teacher; you can get paid to be a teacher. You’re going to be in school anyway.”

So I put my name in the hat and I was hired. And it was tough.

My first year was tough because I didn’t go through a traditional educational plan, like becoming a teacher in the program. I was just relying on what I knew, I was thinking of the best teachers in my

May 2023 98
Kelechi Alozie Dr. O
A Conversation with Dr.
This is our first graduating class and we’ve learned a lot;
every year we’re learning, growing and adding on. We incorporate a lot of our student voices and a lot of our teachers in our community for our next steps.

experience and what they did, so I was just using the tools that I had. I knew that I loved working with the young students. I loved helping them because in the community, where I was teaching at Riverside. Helping the student was also helping the families because it was very much a communitybased area. I fell in love with it. Little by little, I started to want more within that career field. So I got my master’s and then got certified to be an administrator and then went back for my Ph.D. I never got that MD but I got the Ph.D. I feel fulfilled because I feel like I’m helping students and families.


We know that YWA is very different from traditional schools and even just like other all-female schools. Do you think that adding that STEAM in there -- with the A -- gives our students an opportunity that other schools don’t offer?


I definitely think that. We really wanted to think about the whole child and not just making students or creating or supporting developing students who are academically sound. The arts really do cater to a lot more of the whole child. Our students can articulate their ideas, our students are great presenters, our students are creative, they’re talented in so many capacities, and I feel like -- as a campus -- we really really capitalized that “A” and it has driven everything else around what we do. But being creative, and being able to carry a conversation to collaborate with peers. All of that may or may not have happened if we had just focused on academics and studies versus making sure we have opportunities for students to present, to grow, to prepare, and show their work. I really think that that’s what sets us apart as a campus and as a school.


What challenges have you faced as a principal at this school, as a new school and building it up from the ground?


First, we’re the only 6-12th grade campus, we’re the only single-gender. We’re paving a path that has never been paid before in our area, so making sure that we have sports, making sure that we have access to everything that a traditional high school has. Those are some things that maybe through education, maybe through conversation, we’re able to help achieve. But some things we’ve had to really work for, from our staff, our students, and of course, the administration team. But the beauty is that even working and operating with the parameters of what we have, our students are still doing amazing. That’s proved to me that you don’t need the bells and whistles. What you really need are dedicated educators, who want to see your students succeed, and are there for them to provide these opportunities, and then the rest will come.


Where do you see YWA 10 years from now?


This is our first graduating class and we’ve learned a lot; every year we’re learning, growing and adding on. We incorporate a lot of our student voices and a lot of our teachers in our community for our next steps. I see us expanding, I see us growing. I would love to have a pre-K through 12th grade. The whole pipeline of building young women into amazing leaders because you all are phenomenal. 99 May 2023
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102 May 2023 | By: ANDI R. TISCARENO | Not Your Typical Cookie Cutter Bakery!

The best way to start most mornings is with a nice hot (or iced) cup of coffee paired with a fresh, toasty pastry. That is to say, as long as you aren’t rushing out the door to get to work or to school, it’s nice to be able to relax while waiting to get something in your belly to wake you up. While there are plenty of cafés and bakeries to choose from in the Borderland, I want to focus on one place that is bound to leave a lasting impression on anyone who walks through its doors.

Nestled up on 2900 N Mesa St., right across from the UTEP Don Haskins center, Weirdoughs Bakery & Café serves up fresh, made from scratch pastries and made to order drinks.

The café is incredibly welcoming with a warm sense of peace surrounding the shop. From the sweet and savory scents of the pastries being made, to the rich aroma of coffee wafting through the shop. Sitting down with a toasted marshmallow almond milk latte and a crème brulee filled donut, you’re able to feel relaxed as music plays overhead.

Co-Owner Andrea Andujo (She/Her) credits the success to experience, after having worked in a bakery before opening the shop.

“Bianca Owens (Co-Owner) and I met when we worked together at another bakery about five years ago,” says Andujo. “Both of us, individually, had always wanted to open up a bakery!”

After going separate ways during the pandemic in 2020, Owens worked at the establishment that occupied the bakery’s space, where she made friends with the owners, who ended up having to close their business during the pandemic.

“The owners liked Bianca a lot and wanted to give her the chance to buy the equipment and jump onto the lease for the building,” Andujo says. “A few days before that happened, we had actually been talking and said, ‘Let’s open our own place!’ We figured the chance had to be worth it!”

With the equipment and space secured, Owens and Andujo became the proud owners of Weirdoughs Bakery and Café and opened their doors on January 26th, 2021.

Despite opening at the beginning of 2021, the Weirdoughs did well during their first year on the basis that folks were finally coming out of quarantine.

“We were still pretty mid-pandemic during that time, but it was actually beneficial because it was a time when things were OPENING and people were tired of being in their house and like “I wanna go somewhere, anywhere!’” Andujo commented.

From working in a bakery to running a bakery, the Weirdoughs had their work cut out for them.

“Bianca and I are very bad at thinking we’re actually running a place. The only time it hits us is when we have to do administrative things,” Andujo jokes. Owning their own shop gives them so much more creative liberty. 103 May 2023

The shop itself is designed to be welcoming, from pastel painted walls that reflect the natural sunlight from the storefront windows to fun decorations adorning the tables and shelves. “We decorated everything pretty much ourselves along with help from our friends and family.”

Now you might be wondering, too, why ‘Weirdoughs?’

Well, it’s simply because it fits the coowners’ personalities!

“We actually got inspired by a meme that played on the lyrics of ‘Creep’ by Radiohead, it’s just a pun that makes sense for us!”

Andujo also expanded on how their creativity for the shop had to go into the pastries they serve.

“We knew, for sure, we wanted to make donuts, that was the main thing. We wanted to be able to rotate out flavors every month to experiment with different things, try to get

flavors that incorporate different cultures,” she says.

The two little dough balls on the weirdoughs logo are a reference to the two owners, who wear the title “weirdo” with pride.

Weirdoughs also follow the seasons and seasonal holidays when it comes to their flavors.

The Weirdoughs creativity also goes beyond just donuts, as they offer decorative sugar cookies that follow themes of the season or holidays. “Pride month, women’s rights month, black history month, we try to do things to tie in to whatever it is that is happening throughout the year,” Andujo adds.

While they are mostly known for their donuts, Weirdoughs does what they can to serve to everybody, incorporating vegan options into their menu as well.

As is common in the food industry, their recipes are always changing.

“So, during St. Patrick’s Day we had items flavored after typical themes,” Andujo says. “We have the Bailey’s inspired donut, Jameson, we also have a Guinness inspired one too!”

Andujo says that “Our recipes have been evolving since we opened, and we’re always improving on them as we go.” The café also has merchandise available for sale ranging from drink cups to t-shirts featuring fun and trendy designs. “We always try to work with local vendors because it helps! Shop Local!” said Andujo.

104 May 2023
Weirdoughs Bakery & Café

With a wide array of flavors and recipes, there are a few favorites that stand out to the customers.

“Our Trixie, which is a sprinkled strawberry donut, it’s a classic that’s year round, it’s always popular,” said Andujo. “For cookies, our Smores would be our popular cookie, and for drinks, our cold brew is another popular item.”

While their kitchen is usually busy, the Weirdoughs still find the time to give back to the community.

“We try to do things with the community, like we have an art wall where local artists can put up their art. We don’t take any commissions from that, it’s just a space for them to put stuff up.” said Andujo. “We like to do things with the community, like donating to different charities within the community.”

Some drives they have done have benefitted the Children’s Center, as well as other non-profit organizations in the city.

With pastries made fresh daily and coffee machines steaming, the weirdoughs offer their service with a smile and a laugh as they hash out orders. There’s always a place for everyone in the Sun City, especially if you’re feeling a little weird. May 2023 The only TMS Clinic in El Paso to use EEGs & Neural Navigation for precise TMS treatments and patient outcomes! (915) 307-5796 | 1122 Montana Ave El Paso, TX 79902 | Alfredo H. Arellano PMHCNS-BC, PA Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) & Psychiatric Clinic Healing Minds, Helping Hearts PROFESSIONAL SERVICE & INSTALLATION ӹ Automotive Tint ӹ Residential Tint ӹ Commercial Tint ӹ Paint Protection Film ӹ Vehicle Detailing ӹ Nano Ceramic Coating WE ARE PROUD TO OFFER MILITARY AND VETERANS DISCOUNT Contact Us Today! 915-615-7077 7741 Lockheed Dr El Paso, TX 79925 Mon - Sat: 8AM - 6PM Stop In & Visit Us
108 May 2023


lanca Estrada started painting at the early age of four and hasn’t stopped ever since. Most recently, the artist known as ‘Bloo N Mac’ on social media, painted a mural at a Walmart in Northeast, El Paso, leaving a mark and her staple signature in the community.

Estrada, who used to be a Math teacher at Bowie High School, decided to leave teaching to pursue her lifetime passion for art as her full-time job in the fall of 2022 .

“I never thought it was going to be a career, but I started my little business doing painting classes and I paid off two of my student loans in two years doing the classes and a few markets, so it was really shocking to me that it was working so well,” Estrada said.

After dropping out of the Phoenix Art Institute and returning to El Paso, Estrada became a self-taught artist and says that through years of experiences and curiosity for exploring different mediums, she’s been able to create unique pieces that showcase the border community.

“If you notice, my art has a lot of realistic places, such as the Pokémon in El Paso series,” Estrada said. “The series started because I hated ‘La X’ from Juarez, so I came home trying to change my mind adding Pokémon’s to it, so it’s always been about adding a little magic to real life.”

For Estrada, discovering her own style as an artist was a personal journey that -- through trial and error -- led her to different projects and creative decisions. While some of her series have a lighter tone, Estrada also enjoys adding depth to her projects.

One of her popular series is ‘Desert Queen,’ a series of pieces that were born while resting in bed. On the other hand, her series ‘The Marionette,’ shows the emotional depth of the artist.

“The Marionette came up when I was in high school because my mom was very strict at the time. I felt, overall, controlled not only by her, but also by society,” Estrada said. “I felt I had to be a good girl and I felt like a puppet, I felt really trapped.”

Estrada’s work ranges from fine art to cartoons and art inspired by films. Such is the case of some pieces from her catalog that showcase the characters of Deadpool and Homelander having a confrontation, pieces that are more than welcomed at events such as Comic-Con.

This year the local artist will showcase her work in 18 Comic-Con events, taking her El Paso inspired art to other cities across the country.

At these events, the artist not only showcases her prints and artwork, but also

sells colorinCMg books of her own work, stickers, and postal cards that have become popular among audiences.

Throughout her years in the craft, Estrada reflects on her passion not just for art, but also for her local community. According to the artist, since the community has welcomed her with open arms, it is through her art that she is able to give back to her hometown.

“There are a lot of places that have asked me to put my art there; they sell for me and they give me a little commission. I’m just so grateful,” Estrada said. “I grab fan art, and then make it more relatable, like the Pokémon in El Paso. Now that I started traveling to other towns, people were like ‘We don’t know, El Paso, but we’ll buy it because it’s cool.’ So for me, it’s about showcasing our community because I’m very proud of our hometown.”

During the month of May, Estrada will be showcasing some of the pieces from her Frida Kahlo Collection, which is about showcasing Kahlo through her own perspective and vision. The art pieces will be at Casa Ortiz and Estrada will also hold some events at Bodega Loya throughout the month of May. 109 May 2023

Acid Wave to

| photos courtesy of: ACID WAVE |

Rock and Roll

through Texas

he journey for women in music has always been challenging but is getting a lot less lonely -- especially when it comes to women in indie rock and roll. From headliners like super group Boygenius to local bands being signed to record labels, it’s hard to ignore the rise of women in rock.

Acid Wave is a local all-woman band signed with Hogar Records. The band was formed in 2018 by drummer/vocalist Audrey Villalobos, guitarist/vocalist Eva Vasquez, and bassist/vocalist Isanette Olivarez who came together through a shared passion for music and drive to coalesce indie alternative and bedroom pop. Two additional members were added to the band

in 2021, keyboardist/vocalist Jet Gil-Robert and drummer/vocalist Mary Moreck.

This month, Acid Wave is releasing sophomore album “heart2heart,” a dream pop collection of songs that reflects upon the joy created by making meaningful connections, and will also be embarking on the band’s first-ever tour across Texas.

“We’ve never done a tour before and it’s really special to have all five of us on stage. We’re going to have two guitarists. Usually, when we play live shows it’s just one guitar -- so this is going to be super fun,” says Olivarez.

Acid Wave’s new album and first tour mark significant milestones in the band’s lifespan and raise important questions regarding gender, representation, and respect.

The first question: Why are there so few women in the music industry?

A study published in 2022 called “Inclusion

In the Recording Studio?” was the fifth annual report of its kind focused on gender equality in the music industry and reports that the representation of women, both in recording studios and music charts, has not significantly increased within the last decade.

Women account for 51 percent of the population, and yet the study reported that a whopping 78 percent of recording artists were men and only 22 percent women from 2011 to 2021, with only 14 percent of songwriters being women.

But things are changing -- loudly.

Women recording artists are gaining momentum and inspiring new generations along the way.

111 May 2023

Before contemporary women-driven acts like Wet Leg, Soccer Mommy, Beabadoobee, and La Luz were touring, inspiring, and being nominated for Grammys, their predecessors like Haim, Florence and the Machine, and Alvvays took festival stages by storm in the early days of social media, themselves being influenced by femaleled bands from the 90s like No Doubt, Sonic Youth, Garbage, The Cranberries, and the cycle of influence can be traced on and on.

Today, an ecosystem that supports women in music is being cultivated in El Paso and beyond.

“I think women are learning to be less silent. I think there’s never been fewer women who play music, it’s just now they’re getting more comfortable, like actually going out and doing that in public,” says Moreck.

Another question: How do you start a girl band?

For Acid Wave, the members came together with different skills and a desire to play.

“I was in school band for eight years from elementary to high school then stopped because of college,” says Vasquez, who adds that she and Villalobos were in bands together while students at Montwood High School. “We stayed friends after high school, and then decided we should just make a band,” she adds.

Villalobos, who serves in the U.S. Air Force and attends college in Oklahoma, recorded a handful of the songs from the band’s first album in her college dorm room and has music flowing through her veins.

“I started getting involved in music because my dad was a bass player and still in bands today,” she says. “I started Acid Wave because I was like ‘there are no girl bands in El Paso so I want to start one.’ That’s where we are today.”

“Heart2heart” showcases Acid Wave’s maturity over the course of the last few pandemic-filled years and reflects on the connections and relationships formed in between.

“You can totally hear the difference in our writing and producing from our first album, so I feel like we’ve definitely matured a lot,” says Villalobos. “But it is like a love letter, that’s what we’re trying to go for. I have to thank my current partner for being my main inspiration for the songs.”

Acid Wave, with members like Gil-Robert influenced by British rockers Siouxsie and the Banshees, are inspiring other young women who attend their live shows to sit behind a keyboard, pick up a guitar, or grab a pair of drumsticks.

“I think that’s what’s special,” says Gil-Robert. “It’s girls being inspired by other girls. Sometimes we overhear a couple girls in the

May 2023 112

front at our live shows say they should make a band.”

With the triumphs come the online trolls and sexism, but the members of Acid Wave are as comfortable speaking up for themselves as they are performing on stage. Plus, they’re a solid support system for one another when faced with disrespect and inhospitable treatment compared to male bands playing the same shows on the same stage.

“We stay professional, but we also need to tell them how it is, and hopefully it’ll get through their brains that they need to treat women the same way they treat males,” says Vasquez.

Ditto for online harassment, to which the band takes a particularly thoughtful approach compared to many online commenters (often male).

“We’ll usually have a discussion first before we decide how to approach it,” says Moreck. “I’m not saying men don’t do that. But I have a feeling they’re kind

of more reactive. But we’re considerate enough to take it in and discuss it first. We’re not reactive, we definitely discuss it first. And it’s kind of stupid because we shouldn’t have to.”

Despite the sometimes grim reality of being a woman in the music industry (and world), the members of Acid Wave are able to delight in the dreamy world of the new album and be proud of their journey thus far.

“Most of the songs are love songs, but they’re really good. It’s a really great album,” says Olivarez. “It’s definitely happier than our older songs and has a slightly different sound. We’ve definitely made progress.”

Acid Wave will be touring through Texas from May 19th through May 26th, with additional summer dates to be announced. For now, the band has two requests:

“Support your local girl band. Start your own local girl band.”

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Sun City Welding Academy is sparking opportunities for women in trade industries while also solidifying work ethic, craftsmanship, and confidence in students. According to the American Welding Society, women make up only five percent of the welding workforce despite a recent boom in the industry wherein more than 300,000 welding job openings are expected nationwide by 2024.

In El Paso, the Sun City Welding Academy is working to train new generations of the workforce while also helping women torch the glass ceiling of the traditionally male-dominated field. Currently, Sun City Welding Academy is the region’s premier welding school that focuses on industrial pipe welding for the oil and gas industry, as well as commercial and residential use.

Brissia Vega is co-owner of Sun City Welding Academy, who is trained as an industrial engineer and currently works as a Quality Assurance / Quality Control inspector at Marathon Oil, sat down with The City Magazine

to discuss the world of women in welding.

The City Magazine

How did you get your start in welding?

Brissia Vega

My dad is a welder. I have a couple of uncles who are welders as well, and I’m an industrial engineer. I started by going into the industry as a helper first and then moved up to do field engineering. I found the passion for inspecting the welding part of it. I started looking at welds, following drawings, and learning the backside of it. So with Scott, who is also co-owner, being the welder and me being the inspector, it was a good mix for the school itself.


How important is it for women to be represented in trades like welding?


Very important because as a woman in the field, I feel that women’s representation is undervalued and is underrepresented.


Women are very successful in this industry. The very few women who do welding are really good at it. So having the school, being able to bring more women into this industry, teaching them the trade then seeing how excited they are about it and seeing that they’re able to succeed is just mind blowing. It shows them that they can do the same thing that a guy is doing at their own pace. So it’s really rewarding.


What’s a regular day like for you?


I work at Marathon’s refinery, as well. I’m a QA/ QC manager there. I go to work at 7:30 and then after work, at 4pm, I come to school till 9pm. I do check some of the work that our students do, I help with paperwork, enrolling them all the way, to just running the office. We have test Saturdays, and that’s when it’s my full day of being there in the shop with the students.

We bring them in at 7:30 in the morning, they prepare their stuff and they have to go through me to be able to advance.


What do people get wrong about welding?


That it’s a man’s field. Also, I think not giving women the opportunity by seeing them as fragile and not capable of performing. But once you see a woman in the field and when you see her climbing and moving around -- maybe in tighter spots that a robust guy can’t fit -- you understand that there’s room for everybody in this industry. There are a lot of welders needed. So either male or female, we cannot discriminate.


Why did you decide to start this academy?


El Paso needed a welding school specialized in piping. I’m the one who tests welders

when they come in looking for a job, so I know what they require. I know what they need. I know what our students’ capabilities are now on the backside. We give them the same industry standard test that we do in any other job. Having the opportunity of also recruiting women and bringing them up, then seeing how they perform and how their skill level improves is just very rewarding. Their confidence grows from the day they start.

They have their gloves, they have all their equipment. They feel confident and once they finish their tests and see they’re doing well -- it’s just awesome. It’s very, very neat to see it. When they see that they did a good job and when they see that they’re able to perform a good weld is so rewarding. Producing a good looking weld and a good quality product at the end of the day, not messing up or getting frustrated and remaining being calm, consistent and just following what they’re supposed to do gives them that confidence. As women, sometimes our confidence is what kind of triggers us, but doing what you’re supposed to and pushing through and making it happen can help. Then, seeing your finished product, something that you’ve done with your hands is very nice.


What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for women in this industry?


Breaking the stigma about women in welding. Being more confident in yourself is one of the things that can get you far in this industry, or as a woman anywhere. I have been at the refinery for 10 years, and I have been the only woman in the field for a long time until now. I see more women -- not necessarily in my area, but scaffold builders, painters, other other craft engineers -- and seeing them stay in the industry is neat. It’s very nice to see. 115 May 2023 5901 N. Mesa El Paso, TX 79912 Sleep Time Gummies 18mg CBD + 15mg CBN (915) 300-0603 Your Best Life Ever With CBD 80+ 5 star Google reviews look up “VidaCBD915” Sleep Well, Stay Healthy.

El Paso Children’s Hospital

transformed UTEP’s Don Haskins Center into an Old Hollywood dream to celebrate its hard working staff. Guests enjoyed live music, charcuterie, and old school glamor in appreciation of the dedicated and expert work achieved at EPCH each day.

| Photos courtesy of: EPCH |


and crew celebrated wrapping production of “Intersected” at The Berkeley this spring. The short film is a sci-fi, romantic, fantasy with a psychological feel written and directed by Jamiah Dancil with the original story by her daughter Taliah Dancil.

118 scene
| Photos by: MIRACLE SMITH |
120 May 2023
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