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Coach Spotlight: Blanca Blaney

Ignite Coaching embodies the spirit of diversity, equity and inclusion by being comprised of coaches who represent the endless dimensions of diversity. To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15), we are pleased to share the story of our coaches, Blanca Blaney.



Having immigrated to the United States from Spain, Blanca is a living testament of the many achievements of Hispanic Americans who decided to turn a dream into reality. Here's her story...



1. Where were you born and raised? What was it like?


I was born in a small town an hour away from Bilbao in the Basque region of Spain. I was the fifth of seven girls. My dad was a farmer and worked long hours to provide food for the family. Everything was done manually and nothing went to waste. We lived high in the mountains and we walked to school several hours each day.



2. When and why did you decide to come to the US?


While in high school, I worked in a convent to earn room and board. Through friends I found a nanny job for an American family. I taught their children Spanish and Basque. I lived with the family for five years and during that time we came to the United States. I applied to Sacred Heart University and I borrowed money from my brother in-law to pay for my education. I worked during the day as a nanny and housekeeper and went to school at night.


3. What did you like about the US and what were your challenges in assimilating?


When I first came to the US, I did not speak English. I took English classes. I had no friends and it was a lonely time. I did not want to disappoint my parents, so I persevered. I made a friend, Marie, who took me to Immigration to get a work permit. She helped me, encouraged me and celebrated my college graduation. Once I got a work permit, I was able to move in with my friend Marie. These experiences made me resilient. I set a goal at that time to work for an international company and worked in financial services and later for General Electric.


4. What helped you?


I started volunteering to give back and was able to get my first job at a bank. I worked hard and was determined to give back and volunteered for INS and served on their board and became a US citizen. I had to be committed, determined, and resilient. I looked for the opportunities and bigger purpose in life. I am continuing learning and growing. I became a Professional certified coach, mentor, and Team Coach to help leaders at all levels discover their self-authentic so they can achieve their dreams!.


5. How do you view your homeland and the US now?


People in the US have no idea how fortunate we are. You have to work hard and earn it, but there is so much opportunity here. I am grateful for the work ethic and strong service attitude taught by my parents. I have worked to demonstrate a servant’s heart throughout my life. I always intended to go back to Spain but I became attached to the American way of life. I help by sending money to my family as they did not have a car or refrigerator when I was growing up.


I mentor female professionals. I encourage them by saying, “Don’t allow others to downgrade you. Surround yourself with positive/inspiring people who believe in you and never stop learning.”


Thank you, Blanca, for sharing your story!



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