Eymi Meza, a second-year student at The Leadership Center, is one of the most squeezable humans I have ever met. She comes in at four foot seven but has a huge positive presence that fills a room with joy. Eymi is a member of Cohort 11, and will graduate from TLC in June. I sat down with Eymi to learn more about her life growing up in Honduras and how TLC has influenced the woman she’s become.
Eymi grew up in her grandparents’ home, surrounded by a family of eight: her mom, aunt, grandparents, cousins, and sister. Her mom worked 12-hour days in a clothing factory, sewing sun-up to sun-down, so Eymi didn’t spend much time with her. Eymi’s mom worked these long hours to save up to build a house for her family – Eymi and her 3 sisters, which they moved into when she was 8 years old. Eymi’s best friend was her grandfather, whom she spent the majority of her childhood days with, since her parents were continuously tied-up with work. Eymi described her grandfather as her “hope.”
Eymi’s childhood home was boisterous – full of laughter and play. During the day her grandfather would work in the fields while Eymi played with her cousins and sister. When he came home he would sit next to Eymi on their couch and watch the news. This time with her grandfather was starkly different from her days with kids her own age. It was a time for Eymi and her grandfather to sit, relax, and share about their day. She remembers fondly the tranquil presence he brought to her life.
Christmas was Eymi and her grandfather’s favorite time of the year, because her mom and step-dad had vacation – one of the only breaks they had all year. After spending much time away from her parents, the happy bustle of the Christmas season brought Eymi great joy.
Sadly, when Eymi was 13, her grandfather passed away, leaving Eymi with a heaviness in her heart. He was her rock and her light, and without him she felt lost. She was still just a kid, but with her mom and step-dad working most of the day, she felt she had to grow up quickly.
Eymi enjoyed studying and learning, and her grandfather always encouraged her to pursue an education. After high school, she moved from her home in Siguatepeque to Comayagua to find work, because she needed to pay for college. For two years Eymi sold cheese and eggs during the week, and trekked home every weekend to attend University classes in Siguatepeque. She had to give up one of her favorite pastimes, soccer, to sustain this busy lifestyle.
Eymi started out studying Agriculture, but soon learned that was not her calling, and switched to business management. A friend from high school told her about Leadership Mission International, and Eymi felt like it was a sign to take a different path than the one she was currently on. She was burned out from constantly working and studying and wasn’t convinced business management was for her. But she took a leap of faith and applied to become a student at TLC. She was interviewed and accepted admission with great enthusiasm.
When asked what was the best tool she received from TLC, she responded without hesitation, “To be confident”, Eymi said. TLC‘s loving and supportive environment has allowed Eymi to feel comfortable in exploring who she is and what she wants to accomplish in her life. She has had more people than ever before telling her that she can succeed, to keep moving forward and not to give up. “Being here (at TLC) has changed my mindset,” Eymi said, “and everything starts from inside of us.”
There are many strong women here at The Leadership Center that I have had the pleasure of interacting with on a daily basis. These women humble me and make me proud to be a part of the LMI staff. I learn more with each day – and for that I will be forever grateful.