That's What She Said

Episode 51: Visiting with Nashla Vega Zamora and her story, “Leave It Better Than You Found It”

Woman stands on stage with microphone, others sit on couches behind her

Nashla Vega Zamora That's What She Said



In the first episode of season six, hosts Jenette Jurczyk and Kerry Rossow are back in the studio with their inspiring guest, Nashla Vega Zamora. They discuss her story of being an immigrant in the United States and the challenges she faced and how they shaped who she is and lead her to where she is today.

ANNOUNCER 00:00 Raising women’s voices one story at a time. Welcome to The She Said Project Podcast

[Music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]


JENETTE JURCZYK 00:28 That’s What She Said: a popular joke thanks to the TV show “The Office,” but also the name of an amazing event of women sharing stories produced by The She Said Project. You’re listening to The She Said Project Podcast, where we love to visit with the women who have shared those stories and raise each other up one more time. So I’m Jenette Jurczyk, I’m your host today. And with me in the studio?

KERRY ROSSOW 00:50 I’m Kerry Rossow. Co-Founder, co-host co-shenanigan-ator.

JENETTE 00:57 Co-shenanigan-ator. We love the shenanigans here in the She Said land. Who’s on the lineup today Kerry?

KERRY 01:04 Well, I gotta say, I kind of defer and bow down to her cuz she actually is the queen shenanigan-inator.

NASHLA VEGA ZAMORA 01:11 Yes, that is true.

KERRY 01:12 Oh my gosh, talk about being a number one fan. I am this girl’s number one fan. I just want to follow her around, like stand behind her and snapping my fingers and just, “Yeah, that’s right. I’m with her.”

JENETTE 01:23 You’re like her backup singer.

KERRY 01:24 Yeah, yeah.

JENETTE 01:25 So when we started casting the 2022 show in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, you had one name, you’re like, “I don’t care. This woman MUST be in the show.” But you have a personal connection with her. She’s a coach in our community. She works with your kiddos.

KERRY 01:40 It’s a tangled web, especially given the content of her piece. So my daughters have her for a soccer coach. And that is near and dear to me, because they have this woman and this amazing woman in their life who not only makes them feel, I’m just gonna say six foot tall. But wait a minute, they are six foot tall, makes them feel six (foot) five, and she’s like four (foot) five. And she is like four foot five of awesome and she makes my girls feel amazing. And she’s somebody that my girls can look up to. And I’m happy about like, I’m so happy my girls have her in their life. And I secretly look up to her—down to her but, up to her. (Sorry, I can’t stop. I love the short jokes with her.)

KERRY 02:18 But then the other great part is in my day job. I get to see what an amazing person her mom is and so when she talked about her mom, and then every day I get to be there and see this awesome woman in her own right. But the awesome person that raised Nashla Vega, it’s a pretty sweet gig.

JENETTE 02:37 You are right. And she’s sitting right here. Like completely hearing everything.

KERRY 02:41 Sorry, I can’t help it, I can’t help it. Just like I love you. I just follow her around saying that all the time.

JENETTE 02:45 Nashla Vega Zamora. Thanks for joining us in The She Said Podcast Studio.

NASHLA 02:51 Thank you for having me.

JENETTE 02:53 So you said yes to Kerry. Not me,  it’s Kerry.

NASHLA 02:56 Technically. I said no to Kerry [Kerry laughs] It was a few more. No. It’s not an option you’re gonna do it until it became a yes.

KERRY 03:03 It’s true. I wore her down [Kerry continues to laugh]

JENETTE 03:04 You wore her down.

NASHLA 03:05 Do you want to tell her how it started?

KERRY 03:05 Yeah, pretty much.

KERRY 03:09 Well, I wanted her to speak with her lovely wife. I wanted them to be our duet. And her lovely, but oh so shy wife said Yeah, I don’t think so. But I was like, Yeah, you’re not you’re not rid of me yet. You’re still in, you’re still in. And then she eventually was like, Yeah, okay.

NASHLA 03:30 Yeah.

JENETTE 03:31 Thank you for saying yes.

NASHLA 03:32 Yeah.

JENETTE 03:33 And even more so. You know, you got this experience, but Oh, my God, your words Nashla, your story, your words, the impact that your story had on our audience that night, I got choked up every single time. And, you know, I know you put on a tough show. But you got a little choked up too.

NASHLA 03:56 Yeah, it was. It was a little bit different. Saying it in front of my parents. Yeah, that was a different kind of moment. I think that was the part that choked me up every time. But yeah, it was different with knowing that my parents were there and hearing it and then seeing other people celebrate that huge and very delayed accomplishment for them. So, it was it was cool to see that for them. Because they rarely get to get celebrated as they should you know, they’re just workhorses, and all the time and all the time. So it was cool, even though it was how many over 800, 900 strangers to be, you know, applauding, because they get to finally become citizens. So, that was a really cool piece for me. There’s not a lot of ways in which I can say thank you to them. To me that was really special.

JENETTE 04:39 Well, let’s share the amazing words that you shared that night with our audience today. So Nashla appeared on stage in That’s What She Said 2022 in our flagship show of Champaign-Urbana, and her story called, “Leave It Better Than You Found It” gets me every time. Let’s go ahead and listen to the performance from that night!

(originally recorded February 26, 2022 at the Virginia Theatre, Champaign, IL)

NASHLA 05:00 I’d like you guys to think about something that you can buy, or you may already even have that’s worth $36 or cost $36. I’ll give you a second to think about. You got it? All right, keep that in your head, I’m going to tell you some of mine, a hand blender, a quick dinner for my wife and me, or maybe even a durable phone case. Now, if all you had were $36, how far could you make it? Could you bet your future on it? What if it wasn’t just you? What if it was two people, or three, or four, my family came to this country from Costa Rica 23 years ago. And with them, my parents brought hopes and dreams to very young kids, and $36, not $360, not $3600, but just $36. And as a kid, I never thought or had to think about it ever. I never knew the times that my parents would eat less or not eat at all, so my brother and I could; how little money they made for how much and how hard they worked, or how my dad needed to sleep during the day because he worked overnights. He’d sacrifice time with us, for us, let alone doing all of this as undocumented immigrants. I watched my parents continuously check boxes, the ones that were already there placed for them, the ones that fit the bill for every kind of stereotype. The boxes that statistically told them that their kids wouldn’t graduate high school, or that they would likely live in poverty for the rest of their lives. The box that read, “you wil be undocumented for as long as you’re in this country.” And as my parents had boxes checked for them, they decided to check a few of their own. Almost in like poker, I call all your checkboxes that you decided were for me, and I raise you to all the ones of what you think we aren’t capable. They carried all those heavy responsibilities that parents carry, and then some. And they did and continue to do everything with the hardest and the most honest work I have ever seen. Here are a few of the things that I learned from them:

NASHLA 07:01 The hustle never stops.

NASHLA 07:03 We didn’t come to this country to give up.

NASHLA 07:06 Always do your best and your most honest work.

NASHLA 07:09 When you do something for someone, you never do it wanting something in return.

NASHLA 07:14 And you always leave anything better than you found it. [applause]

NASHLA 07:17 And I think they’re over there. [gestures] I think they’re over here somewhere [Nashla chuckles]. And leaving it better than they found it, and really anything is exactly what they did. From only $36 in their pocket to now owning a beautiful home in the country, traveling back to Costa Rica for the first time in almost 20 years [applause]. And after 23 years of working in this country, paying taxes in this country, raising children in this country, checking all of the boxes that fed the stereotype that we were illegals, or criminals, or freeloaders. By the end of this year, they will become United States citizens [Nashla becomes emotional; crowd applauds]. [NOTE: As of August 30, 2022, Nashla’s parents are officially United States citizens! Congratulations!!]

NASHLA 08:09 Again, I think they’re over here somewhere. [gestures] So if you want to harass them later, you’re more than welcome to.

FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER 08:13 [yells] Bernie!

NASHLA 08:14 That’s right, Bernie – wherever she is. Now this is what I know as a 29 year old who still has to write stuff on her hand to really remember it; And who tried to steam her shirt while wearing it and got burnt [laughter]. See the scars over here? Yeah, they look like permanent hickeys. Now it’s not nice [Nashla chuckles]. Meanwhile, my parents are just a few years older than I am now. They had two kids and they were making magic at $36. But as I got older, I started to learn that there were boxes already there for me. And they always seem to have a say in the things that I wanted to do for myself, these goals and these dreams that I started to have when I was young. Like when I found out I wanted to teach Spanish and how I fell in love with that out of all things. But, also when I found out I would not pass a basic background check for an education class. When I had soccer scholarships to four year universities after finishing my two years, but also when I couldn’t accept any of those because of my documentation. When I got into one of my dream schools here in my backyard, U of I only to find out they wanted to charge me international tuition even though I had lived here since I was a kid. See, all these boxes had already been checked for me before I even got to prove myself. It didn’t matter what I wanted to be, the sacrifice for my family, the hard work, or that I wanted to give back to my community.

NASHLA 09:35 And I get it resiliency and tenacity and this but I’m tired. It’s tiring knowing that I have more hoops to jump through for the same thing and the average person. It’s tiring noting that voting isn’t an option for me locally, statewide, or nationwide, even though it directly affects my community and me. It’s tiring knowing that I have to be careful in other states, or you can be detained for looking undocumented, or if you don’t have all your paperwork on you, I came to have peace and knowing that all these boxes are always going to be checked for me. It can’t make them go away. Here’s what I decided to check for myself, not only for me, but for those whose shoulders I stand on. And for those who will hopefully stand on mine one day. I am the first person in my immediate family to graduate from a four year college [applause]. Following in the footsteps of my brother, I earned an athletic scholarship at Parkland College [applause]. You guys are gonna clap after every one [chuckles]. I fulfilled my dream of working and teaching at the very school I attended. I work daily with students who look like me, and speak the same language as me who faced a lot of the very same obstacles I faced. I had the privilege and honor of marrying the most wholesome and astonishing woman I have ever met [applause]. I’m not done. And we get to live in that joy with pride and honor. And at the end of the day, we all have these boxes that are placed upon us. And sometimes it feels like those are the only things that we see are the only things that we are, but like the ones before me who paved the way you make your own boxes, and you make them so damn big that the other ones don’t faze you. Because it is our duty that by checking those boxes, we pave the way for the ones who will be here long after us and you must always, always leave it better than you found it [applause].

NASHLA 11:40 I leave you with a Mexican proverb that says, “Trataron de enterrarnos, pero no sabían que éramos semillas.” They tried to bury us but they did not know we were seeds. [applause]


JENETTE 12:04 That is one powerful six minutes if I…

KERRY 12:07 That’s what she said {Kerry and Jenette laugh]

KERRY 12:10 [through laughter] Sorry, you can't set me up like Jurzyk

JENETTE 12:10 Shoot!

JENETTE 12:12 [chuckling] That was so not the plan! Nashla thank you for, thank you for sharing your beautiful story. And it was beautiful, and meaningful, and powerful. And you know, you're like, "my parents are over there somewhere". But still,

NASHLA 12:27 I was completely off, by the way.

JENETTE 12:28 Oh?

NASHLA 12:28 I was like, oh, yeah, they're over there. And they were entirely

JENETTE 12:31 Oh, not close. Oh, okay. But you know where you were? You were in the spotlight.

NASHLA 12:37 Yes.

JENETTE 12:37 With a microphone in your hand?

NASHLA 12:39 Yeah.

JENETTE 12:39 And were you nervous?

NASHLA 12:41 Yeah. A little bit. I'm always told that I have never met a stranger, because I probably talked to a door if you let me for long enough. So, at first I felt a little bit nervous. And then that kind of went away. And I just kind of

JENETTE 12:54 You owned it.

NASHLA 12:55 Yeah.

JENETTE 12:55 You owned it.

NASHLA 12:56 Yeah.

JENETTE 12:56 You brought the life lessons from your parents, you brought the life lessons that you have created for yourself, and that you get to pass on to your students.

NASHLA 13:04 Yeah.

JENETTE 13:05 You get to influence these young ladies.

NASHLA 13:07 It's interesting, because I'm always surprised that I'm the caregiver, the role model in some of these instances, you know. Like, I got to drive these girls to the game and I'm like, Oh, I'm, I'm in charge. It's me, like, can't be like, hey, it's, you know, it's her. Because I am like a big kid most times. So, it's cool to see. But, it's also, it's really neat to teach them to have uncomfortable conversations, especially as women, you're gonna have to have them a lot. And so it's really fun for me to be able to kind of teach them that and, you know, let them know that they're gonna have to do it, whether it's in the workplace, whether it's in whatever it is school setting, anything, they're gonna have to find a way to speak up. So, it's cool, you know, I'm there, everything, whatever it is; hold their jewelry, wipe mud off cleats [Kerry chuckles] whatever it may be, stretch them.

KERRY 13:43 Therapist.

NASHLA 13:44 Yeah, everything! Unlicensed therapists, you know, I get the tears, I get the anger. But I'm also their biggest cheerleader. If you ever see me coaching, you can hear me from any point in the field [Kerry chuckles] doesn't matter where you are a parking lot, doesn't matter where you are, you can hear me. So coaching is always fun. I'm very competitive. Sometimes for me, I get, I get pretty mad, and they can tell I'm mad. Because I'm very competitive. And I'm like, I don't know what you guys got to think about. Whatever it is, but yeah, so it's, it's fun. Some girls are naturally like that. And some just need a little push. Teaching is hard. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy it a lot, but it is equally as hard. Many times throughout my day, I think of stuff that teachers told me or adults told me during that time, and I was like, ehh, whatever, whatever, whatever. And then, you know, you never tell them five, six, how many ever years later you're like, dang, you were right. So a lot of teaching. How do I say this? You don't see the rewards. Those are rewards you know, almost like plant that little seed and then 5, 6, 7, something years later, you hope that it made some kind of effect. So it's really a job where you hope you're doing the right thing. Sometimes you don't get told if you do the right thing, it just shows up in small ways. Or you have four crappy days and one good day, and you're like, Oh, this is why I do what I do. And it keeps you going. For however long.

JENETTE 15:19 I feel like you sincerely try to be the teacher and the coach to these girls that you wish you had.

JENETTE 15:26 Well, not wish I had, I had really, really amazing teachers and coaches as well. So to me, it was, it was my turn to try to give the students, or these kids the wonderful experience that I had, you know; it was, it was teachers for me that were able to help me with my application to college with my this with my that. Because, it was a lot harder for her parents who had never gone to college. They didn't know the process. I think my mom still gets confused as to a Master's is every once in a while with Bernie, it's right on par.

KERRY 15:56
I love that.

NASHLA 15:56 I know, I do, too. I had really amazing teachers. That's where I I fell in love with teaching, where I figured I'm like, Yeah, this is what I want to do these, you know, these teachers who I thought had nothing in common with me didn't look like me. Most of them didn't speak the same language, but always kept me going, always kept me motivated and always told me the things I needed to hear. And sometimes the things I didn't want to hear. So to me, it was only right that I give my students that same chance and especially working with the populations I do now. And, you know, being undocumented and dealing with all that. All that stuff. For me, it's really important that hopefully, they can see themselves reflected in that. And I was able to do it even though it took forever that they can do it as well.

JENETTE 16:38 I learned so much from you about what you went through the hoops you had to jump through just to get an education.

NASHLA 16:45 Yeah.

JENETTE 16:45 In the country that you grew up in your entire life. Like we always say That's What She Said, the stories we share the experiences like a mirror or window. And this was my window into your experience where I got to learn something completely outside of myself, and have a new appreciation for it, and have an opportunity to say what can I do? Or how can I help?

NASHLA 17:07 Yeah, it's ironic, actually, I've, I knew I wanted to be a Spanish teacher. Before even graduating high school, I had an outstanding Spanish teacher who was also my mentor. So it was really cool, because I got to, you know, I've been teaching for a little bit with a temporary license, but because of everything, once that license expires, you gotta do it again. So all that stuff, you know, then one school around here had an accelerated program. So I was teaching one subject, but also student-teaching a different subject, after 12 years, because that was like the one thing I held on to. I'm like, I don't care how many no's I get, I don't care if by the time I get it, I don't want to teach Spanish anymore. It's the one thing I want to do. It was like full circle with me because I got to do my student teaching with my mentor, the person who helped me fall in love with teaching Spanish and that same classroom. And as of I think last week, I finally got my full certification in Spanish. You know, it was a 12 year pain in the butt cycle, but it ended up really nicely and I think I would do that program all over again, even though it was a pain just to be able to do that with her, because that was, that was one of my bucket lists. And I think it's very rare when people get to actively work side by side with the same person who helped them fall in love with the thing that they do. You know, so like, to me that was really special as I think it was for her as well. And that's something that no matter what you know, I gotta do it. So.

JENETTE 18:28 Nashla, I am covered in chills and goosebumps.

KERRY 18:32 I'm telling you. [Nashla laughs] Yep, yep. Just give that girl a microphone.

JENETTE 18:37 You go. We gotcha. You go!

KERRY 18:38 Well, the thing is that hearing her talk about your mentors and the people, that's what you are, as you're describing your mentor, but that's what you are to these girls. When my girl came home from college, and we went to the first soccer game to watch She practically climbed the fence trying to get to Nashla.

NASHLA 18:54 [Nashla chuckles] Trying to.

KERRY 18:55 Yeah, and I'm like, you know, there's a gate we could just go around, but it was like she had to get to Nashla so quickly, and I loved that. That connection had carried over. It's that the after they're gone. That's where it counts is after they're gone. Are they trying to climb a fence to get to you and they are. It's pretty sweet. We are lucky.

NASHLA 19:15 I mean, they're my they're my babies, even though they tower over me. You could've give me a little bit more inches. I'm a solid five foot one and three quarters [Kerry laughs].

JENETTE 19:24 And three quarters.

NASHLA 19:24 That's right. Yeah, but there's so many pictures, especially more with Kerry's oldest where you just see like her hovering over and you can't really see or you see my neck cranked all the way up [Kerry laughs].

JENETTE 19:36 The Rossows are a tall crew, that is for sure!

KERRY 19:39 But you see Nashla like her words even when I can't hear her you know, she's shaking their shoulders and looking up and she's, you know, she's getting after it and whether she's bawling them out or making them feel inspired or whatever it is. I know it's good stuff and I'm not just, I'm grateful for me personally, but I'm also grateful when I see you're doing it to all the girls, I can't even imagine the impact that you've already had on so many girls that will then impact our community because of you.

NASHLA 20:07 Appreciate that.

KERRY 20:08 I… no, I appreciate that.

JENETTE 20:10 There is a serious love fest going in here.

NASHLA 20:13 Yeah.

KERRY 20:13 I'm telling you.

JENETTE 20:13 I love it, because it's hearing your story coming full circle. And then you going out and impacting the next generation and the next generation of these girls. I mean, that is what we do. We raise women's voices. We have a teen empowerment program. It is all about creating that safe space and creating that encouragement.

NASHLA 20:30 Yeah.

JENETTE 20:30 And that is, you know.

NASHLA 20:31 Yeah.

JENETTE 20:32 All I'm hearing is encouragement, encouragement, encouragement, I'd love to know, how are your parents doing on their citizenship journey.

NASHLA 20:39 Should be almost there. Immigration, for whatever reason, is pretty backed up.

JENETTE 20:44 For whatever reason.

NASHLA 20:45 For whatever reason, it's backed up, never when they need money [Kerry chuckles], but for everything else, it's pretty backed up. So, even my second application for residency is it said processing time is 16 to 32 months,

KERRY 21:01 Wow!

NASHLA 21:02 But, in what are we in, April? In eight months (December 2022), I'll be able to apply for citizenship. So it's, it's good, but it's also a waste of money, because it's expensive every time you apply. And by the time my green card gets processed, I will have already applied for citizenship. So really, it's just a waste of money, I guess. But you need to do it. Because otherwise, you're not. I mean, it's as quickly as if it expires and you don't apply like that next day, you can't go to work.

KERRY 21:35 Wow.

NASHLA 21:35 You can't do, and I mean, they're on you, like they, you know, as every or a good HR, or just HR should be right like, Hey, your thing is starting to expire, even with my license. My license only gets it's not for how many years? Do they normally give you a license for what is it five, five,

KERRY ROSSOW 21:50I think it's five.

NASHLA 21:50 Something like that. Mine only goes till the last day of my green card. So if my green card says it's expiring December 16, 2022. Even if it's now my license will only go until then. So, it's pretty serious stuff. It is ironic, though after it expires, they you know, they send you Hey, it might take us a while to process this. Here's this piece of paper, and this piece of paper with your expired green card is the only thing to keep it valid. So, even like, I took a trip and I had to take this piece of paper with this, the only thing that's letting me travel, work and do everything. Yeah. So I mean, I have probably 50,000 copies. I have them even at school. I'm ready. I went on my trip and gave one to my friends. Each one. I'm like, Here you go.

KERRY 22:37 You get one, and you get one.

NASHLA 22:39 Give them this.

KERRY 22:40 Yes.

NASHLA 22:40 But my parents are doing well. They work hard per usual. My mom works for a great family, who also happen to go over, you know, Kerry's school and they just recently had another baby so she it's a hoot. You know the kids she nannies, they call me Tia, which is aunt that's all they know me by so it's really funny. Because they are not these brown skin brown hair brown eyed kids. They're Irish. So they are blond and blue eyed.

KERRY 23:09 I can see them how much they love her. They see her at the end of the hallway and they're running and they, that the love fest is mutual and seeing her send them off with big smooches every day. I just imagine that's how you're going to be. But I asked her mom after the show.

NASHLA 23:26 Did you?

KERRY 23:26 Yeah. And you know what her feedback was and she said, we never, you never know you. You go through parenting and you make all these decisions. And you work so hard, and you hope that you're doing the right thing. And you hope that your kiddos know it.

NASHLA 23:39 Yeah.

KERRY 23:39 And she said, and so now we know it was the right thing. And I was like, Man, I can't believe there would ever be a doubt after everything that I know about your family, but she's just amazing.

NASHLA 23:50 It's hard to see it that way. Like, I've come to realize, you know later as, as I've gotten out of college and done more adult things, that it's harder for me to celebrate my quote unquote accomplishments, because they are so tied to my struggle. And the more I realize it I feel like it's the same for my parents, you know, I'm like thinking of all the things generationally that they have done in order to set us up. And they're just like, well, you know, you gotta do what you got to do. It's nothing like extravagant it's this is what we were handed. And this is what you have to make of it. So, it's it's hard to celebrate that you know, because so much of it is entangled within the struggles you had to go through so it's like cool, you know, I made it out of the mud but shouldn't have started in the mud every once a while be nice just start on the sidewalk. So you know little by little I don't think I'll ever be satisfied with but, I'll chip away at that. And, you know, don't I don't see myself, as a, as a role model. I still have my mentors and my people who I look up to also go and hug him like I'm still a 15 year old. Yeah, you know, every once in a while you get somebody who says something to you. That stays with you, or a text from one of your former soccer players saying, Hey, I can't wait to see you. Or just whenever they pile on you, or they do whatever, or they take your food or you know, the little things like that.

KERRY 25:12 Sorry, that was me [Kerry laughs].

NASHLA 25:13 No, like, the little, you know, the little things that, that you do when you appreciate somebody without saying you appreciate it. I try to keep that in mind, but.

JENETTE 25:22 It's true. I could just give her a microphone and just sit back and listen.

KERRY 25:25 I know, right.

JENETTE 25:25 Yeah, working with Nashla on her story for the show was so fun. And each time we chipped away at it a little bit a little bit and uncovered the moments that we were going to share. Like it just it fell into place. And it was just beautiful. And just right. It was just right. And I love the quote that you ended with. I've told you that like every time I read the story coming out I love that

NASHLA 25:46 Finish stronger.

JENETTE 25:47 It's… but it's so good. You know, it's such an homage to your history and your experience and yet just this powerful moment to leave people with to think about they did not know we were seeds.

KERRY 26:01 Take it home, Nashla.

NASHLA 26:02 I take it home. I take it everywhere. It's tattooed on me. So it's fun.

KERRY 26:05 Read it.

NASHLA 26:07 Read it. The second… It's only the second part.

JENETTE 26:08 Read your arm.

NASHLA 26:09 It's only the second part.

JENETTE 26:11 Say the whole thing for us.

NASHLA 26:12 The whole without.

JENETTE 26:13 The whole thing.

NASHLA 26:14 Okay, it says, “Trataron de enterrarnos, pero no sabían que éramos semillas.” And so I tried my little seed route all the way to Costa Rica. I also have a map. That's how I like to express stuff. But yeah, it was, you know, I had it. When I taught fifth grade, it was on my little banner. That's what I put up for my students. Because to like, you know, like I said in my speech or talk or whatever you want to call it…

JENETTE 26:41 Story.

NASHLA 26:42 Story. It's a responsibility for me. It's not just for me, like I think I've told you before, like you were like, Oh, do you have a chip on your shoulder? And like, hell yeah, I got a chip on my shoulder. I got like, 50. And each one needs covered. So yeah, you know, like it is that, that hard headed that I need to do it, because it's not just for me.

JENETTE 27:04 Yeah.

NASHLA 27:04 And it was cool. We just had honors day at our high school. So that's where seniors get recognized. You know, we had for I think it was like the Spanish Excellence Award or something. I think for the first time in a while they had two Latinas who also, you know, if it felt like very much, so the feelings that I had before. So now to see it, and then to be able for me to go up to them and be like, hey, you know, this is cool. I'm proud of you like this, you know, this is the same kind of stuff I felt. That was really neat for me, because I didn't have that; I had a lot of teachers who were there. And I had a lot of teachers who supported me, but I never had a lot of teachers, or really any who went through the same things or were dealing with the same things that I had to, so that was, that was really cool. You know, they got thanked by a bunch of people. But for me, it was really special to be able to tell them in person like, yeah, you can do it. It's attainable. But it sucks. It's hard. But you know, you can get there eventually.

JENETTE 27:59 What was your wife's reaction? She was in the audience instead of being on the stage with you.

NASHLA 28:05 Yeah.

JENETTE 28:06 I'm dying to know what she thought of you that night.

NASHLA 28:08 She was very proud of me. She is, you know, I think of how big of a cheerleader I am for the girls. But she is. She is by far my biggest cheerleader. You know, she.

Wait, what? [Nashla chuckles]

NASHLA 28:19 Besides Kerry Rossow [Kerry laughs]. They hold it.

KERRY 28:22 Wait, what? Okay, I'm second?

NASHLA 28:25 They hold it together. She also tells me a lot of the things that I sometimes I'm not ready to hear or in terms of how people may see me or see that you know, the things that I've done or accomplished or whatever you want to say it. She was, she was very proud of me. And it was, it was cool. Because she you know, she told me she was proud of me not only as my spouse but just as a person. So, that was I admire her a lot. So to me that was it was special to hear that, it was, it was cool. It was cool. I enjoy listening to her a lot. She puts up with me all the time and listens to my rants and everything I do.

KERRY 29:00 Y'all are the cutest couple ever [Nashla chuckles], Nashla will be going and to see her just like listening and smiling and nodding while you're talking about whatever passionate thing. That's very sweet.

NASHLA 29:12 I apologized to her all the time. I was like, sorry, I just needed to get it out of my head. And she's like, No, no, it's okay. It's okay.

KERRY 29:17 She just beams, it's really great too.

NASHLA 29:20 Yeah, she's cool.

JENETTE 29:22 I know, this is a cheesy way to end this. But I keep thinking, you know, here on the podcast, our goal is to share these stories with a broader audience. More women, more girls get to hear these experiences and realize that there's someone that they can learn from or that they can feel connected to. You know, if there were other girls out there listening right now, what would you tell them?

NASHLA 29:46 Oh, gosh. What would I tell them? I'll tell them it's hard. I will tell them it is impossible to do it alone. There were many times where I was like, I'm done. I'm done. And I was I was done I tapped out I'm like, you know. Because It was roadblock after roadblock or this after this, after this. And I was like, alright, you want me to be out? I'm out. I'm done, I'll go do something else. I'm done. Because, after a while, it just feels like a broken record every single time. You know, it's what, what disaster is this one thing going to bring to you this year? Like, what are you going to try to run from you almost don't even want to make plans or goals, because you're like, well, I gotta have five plans for this. It is hard. But you got to find the people who will have your back. And the people who will support you. One time a friend told me I was very upset about something not happening or something. And she said, You know what, sometimes you have to, you have to stop what you want to do, and do what you have to do in order to get to what you want to do.

NASHLA 30:45 So sometimes you gotta do the stuff that you don't want to do in order to be able to do that, that very thing that you want to, so I would tell them that, and I would tell ‘em to pick one thing, and hold on to that thing. And it'll carry over. But I think you got to find the little things in life, you know, I played with the balloon for 30 to 45 minutes the other day, just cuz it was fun, I was bouncing, I think I was almost dizzy, I was going in circles, you know. But then later that day, I was watching a documentary about some kind of injustice about something. So I always try to keep it happy. But I also very much so understand that there's a responsibility, you know, especially for me, especially for Latina women, especially for Latinos, in general, with High School, graduating from high school looks like graduating from college looks like, you know, it's, it's 2022. And we have these trailblazers, you know, for women's suffrage, and this and this and this, but it's 2022, and we're still having people do things for the first time. You know, there's nothing wrong with being the first, you shouldn't be the only either, you know, like, doing something for the first time is cool, but we're way too late in the game to be the first one doing this. You know, the first doing that, and doing this. So, and sometimes you have to play that role, because sometimes it's bigger than you and there's gonna be a time where you don't have to be the first because somebody else did it for you. Other times, you just gotta be the first and that's something you got to carry. And hopefully, it may not be, you know, it may be in your lifetime, it may not be in your lifetime, you may never see it. But somebody will, at some point.

JENETTE 32:18 The things that you have done, you have certainly opened doors for the next and the next.

NASHLA 32:22 Wow, I hope so. Or at least less doors closing.

JENETTE 32:25 Right. You push, you pushed really hard.

KERRY 32:28 Keep kicking them, I'm telling you, [Nashla chuckles] keep kicking them she's soccer kicking those doors open.

NASHLA 32:32 Keep it real with them, because it's not, you know, it's not all sweet. It's not all flowers, you know, it may never be directly towards you. But there's going to be entities, people, governments, whatever it may be that are going to say that everything you are is the opposing thing. And those are just things that carry with you. Especially when you know you look the way you do. And that's just how it is you got to learn to take it and you know, the best way to prove them wrong is to do it. Can you do it? You shut them up. They can't say anything, so.

JENETTE 33:06 The best way to prove them wrong is to do it.

KERRY ROSSOW 33:08 Amen.

NASHLA 33:08 You gotta do it. That's why I want every single letter behind my name because then you can't tell me anything.

JENETTE 33:13 Can't tell me nothing.

NASHLA 33:13 I just want to send one of those. No, doctor, just reply doctor. Please don't put Miss, put doctor. Just once.

JENETTE 33:21 You're going all the way, aren't ya?

NASHLA 33:22 Oh yeah, I want every single letter behind my name. Yeah, absolutely.

JENETTE 33:26 There's just so many quotable quotes that just came out of all of this. I can't wait to go dissect them all. That's such a great place to wrap this up. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much Nashla for your story for saying, “yes”, for being on the stage, and now for just enlightening us, and all the women out there who you know who get to hear your story and, and realize that they can too.

NASHLA 33:49 Yeah.

JENETTE 33:50 They can too, right?

KERRY 33:52 Amen and amen. I'm still snapping.

JENETTE 33:56 And on that note – All right. Sing us out Kerry.

KERRY 34:00 Oh, you don't want me to sing.

JENETTE 34:01 [Singing rhythmically] Thank you for listening to us here on The She Said Project Podcast.

JENETTE 34:08 Where's my backup singer?

KERRY 34:09 No, I'm just like a straight “over and out!”

[Music: The She Said Project Podcast Theme]

ANNOUNCER 34:16 Thank you for listening to The She Said Project Podcast in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in the podcast for the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That’s What She Said, LLC. For more information on our live shows go to

This podcast was made possible with support from Carle and Health Alliance and presented by Sterling Wealth Management, empowering women to live their best lives.


JENETTE 35:06 [silly voice] Over and out! [laughs]

KERRY 35:08 [silly voice] Over and out! [all laugh]


In our first episode of season six, hosts Jenette Jurczyk and Kerry Rossow are back in the studio with their inspirational guest, Nashla Vega Zamora, from the Champaign She Said cast of 2022. They discuss the challenges involved in immigrating to the United States and how they shaped who she is today.

The She Said Project Podcast is recorded in partnership with Illinois Public Media. All materials contained in this podcast are the exclusive property of The She Said Project and That's What She Said, LLC. Learn more at