Mimi: A Profile

Mariela and I first met in July of 2007 and the first thing I found was that she immigrated to the United States from a small town in Bulgaria called Belogradchik (Beh-lo-gra-chick); her accent is not heavy, but certainly not diminished. She is fluent in Bulgarian and English, and also knows some German, Russian and Serbian. Being fluent in English has allowed her to navigate American life with an added ease. Her literacy has also made her a leader to her family. She is able to tackle their important issues, like negotiating with a car salesman, or looking at houses with a real estate agent. Fortunately, she is not hindered by the language barrier that can be immensely prohibitive to new immigrants.

By luck of an online contest, Mariela’s mother, Sonya, won green cards for her and her three family members, allowing them to come to America. In February or 2007, they endured the 18-hour flight from Amsterdam to Phoenix, AZ, where they would live for some months. Mariela quickly learned the ropes of being a car saleswoman; just 18-years-old, she became the best salesperson working at a Honda dealer in Phoenix. After a few months, her father found a better paying job in Salt Lake City and the family made the decision to move north. Ironically, they moved into the home of their green card sponsor, who lived in Salt Lake City, in July 2007.

While familiarizing herself with the new city, she immediately started applying for college. Soon after, she began taking courses at the local community college and focused on Business as her major. Business is something that drives Mariela; she wants to be the victor of her own spoils, instead of getting caught up in the cogwheels of capitalism. Some of her biggest emerging traits are business oriented. Just as she began taking classes, she found a job working as an Associate in a local Ann Taylor store. This position would build the foundation of her already exceptional sales skills, as well as teaching her the inter-workings of a well-established retail company. Throughout her time there she once again became the highest grossing Associate, and just a year later she was promoted to Store Manager. To this day, she values the experience earned while working at Ann Taylor, even though she has moved on to other projects.

Although she may be a strong woman on the outside, the pain of adjusting to a new culture chipped away at her insides like a pickax. Upon moving to the United States, Mariela was starting all over again; she had no friends, and opportunity was something she would have to go out of her way to get. Knowing her during this time gave me great insight on what it is like for immigrants in the U.S.; it is hard, and that is a great understatement. With both of her parents working around the clock to pay the bills, Mariela too had to invest her hard earned savings to help out and buy a family car or two.

This attitude is not any stretch from life in Bulgaria, however. In Bulgarian culture, the children appear to be raised to be more helpful than the average American child, putting in very hard work to support the family in any way. Mariela has no problem investing thousands of her own dollars to get what the family needs; in fact, she is more than glad to do so. She knows money does not bring happiness but it is a necessity, and at some points others may need it more than she does. Caring for the needs of others is a large part of who Mariela Zhivkova is.

When she speaks candidly she will talk about how much time she does not have and all the things she wishes she could do: like return to Bulgaria just for a night so she can go to the disco club with all of her friends, or visit the mountainous steppes that surround her town, or take an eight-hour bus ride to seaside and stay for a week. She will stop herself, however, and realize now is not the time for those thoughts. She feels as if she is standing on the launching pad of her life because of her work-related and educational obligations. For her is is now or never, and that requires her utmost attention.

As a full-time student and worker, she is beginning to encounter the first great challenges of her life. But she knows when it is all over and done withs he will have a life she can be happy about. In the end, she wants to be able to support her future children, nothing else matters. She does not want her children to live through the kind of poverty she did while in Bulgaria, so she has made it her life’s goal to be financially successful.

I would best describe Mariela Zhivkova as “a diamond in the rough,” as she is a woman of grace and hidden strength who has faced many hardships. The power she controls can be seen in nearly every aspect of her life. Though, behind her prominent demeanor, a complex soul is found. Judge, jury and executioner, she is ruler of her domain. Her actions are planned with the precision of a scalpel, allowing for opportunity at every step. She would tell you that all of this is because she is a Scorpio, a fact she is proud of.

Knowing her for only a short time I can only assume her future. I believe she is going to make a big mark for herself; the only questions are “What, when and where?” The determination she has will seemingly never fade, giving her an immense amount of power and self-control in the future. Being able to stand up for herself and what she believe in, she will continue to survive and succeed in today’s seemingly cutthroat business world. From all of this I can plainly see that all of her traits are leading up to a magnificent future.

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