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Ashley Mentel: LA Tribu 985

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Sharing the American Dream

In sharing their inspirational stories, many women who’ve found purpose and passion in life reveal their driving force is a strong female figure. Sometimes it’s a teacher, mentor or mother, but in many cases, it’s a grandmother. Despite the generational gap, which brings changes in societal norms, gender roles, world views and technology; the influence and connection shared can be surprisingly strong. The adage, ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same,’ comes to mind as Ashley Mentel, a young Latina entrepreneur, describes the unique, almost mystical bond she shares with her grandmother, Carmen. “We may come from different backgrounds, but we are connected by the lineage of our ancestors,” begins Ashley, who aspires to emulate her Salvadoran abuelita (grandmother). “The world is different in many ways, but what hasn’t changed is the importance of selfless love of family. I want her sacrifices, heritage and faith to live through me. As a child, I was fascinated with her stories of life in El Salvador and the obstacles she faced as a working immigrant woman alone in California, unable to speak English. Like many other Latinos, her motivation was providing a better life for her family. She left her home and children to follow the American Dream, paving the way to a better future for us. No matter how great the hardships, the loneliness and the discrimination, her dedication to family overruled all. Without her courage, I wouldn’t be here.”

Embracing Her Heritage

Ashley Mentel chose her studies of language, culture and psychology at Southeastern to further understand and carry on the familial and spiritual work of Carmen. Describing their relationship as the strongest intuitive connection she’s ever felt, Ashley traveled to El Salvador to personally research their ancestors, the Nahuat Pipil. There, she learned more about the little-known indigenous tribe all but annihilated during political and racial upheaval in 1932. As she better understood her grandmother’s stories of shame and fear as an oppressed, dark-skinned child, Ashley’s admiration for Carmen’s incredible spirit only grew. “Along with a strong Catholic faith, she maintained and shared with me the sacred oral tradition of her indigenous religion – the mystical beliefs that life, although incredibly difficult, could also be magical. It’s in my blood to act as her kindred spirit and share that hope for a better life with her people – my people, by helping them experience the advantages that she worked so tirelessly to give me.”

LA Tribu 985

Part of Ashley’s mission to serve Latino immigrants is to help integrate them into this area’s English-speaking population, reinforcing their self-worth and importance to the community. She explains, “My company, LA Tribu 985, is more than a translation service. It’s a solution to language and cultural barriers for Latinos living here. My research has found that the Latino population is the second largest minority group in the US with Spanish being the second most spoken language here. There are now over 322,500 Hispanic Louisianians. As for St. Tammany, expansion from surrounding parishes is due to environmental issues like natural disasters and the search for higher flood zones; people escaping crime and poverty; and people seeking better education systems and living standards. These factors make it a ‘key migrant destination’ forecasted for significantly larger populations. My service not only provides translators and English classes, but also recognizes the value of the Latino community and provides the support system and the tools to become properly integrated into their new community successfully.”

Breaking Down Barriers

Ashley Mentel also acts like a family member for those who’ve left theirs behind. Like a tribe, she says, LA Tribu 985 is dependable, provides support, and values all the tribe members. Ashley’s mission is to provide resources necessary for all members to develop and use their voice to not just chase, but to fully live their American Dream. “As many Latinos can attest, the language barrier is still the number one obstacle that makes surviving here alone most challenging and discouraging. My grandmother’s sacrifices made a better life for my family and me. When I put myself in her shoes, I can barely imagine the courage needed to be alone in a country with no family or resources, unable to speak its complicated language. I provide many services to help break down barriers and connect Latinos to their new communities to achieve success including educational and financial resources, and knowledgeable guidance in navigating their new community. I am beyond passionate about what I do.” 

For more information, please call 985-630-8487 or email latribu.324@gmail.com. 

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