Alaafia! I pray you are all very well as you read this and that those of you who may have celebrated any of the winter festivals of lights enjoyed spending time with your friends and families. I thought we’d bring 2011 to a close with another installation of Spotlight! the place where Ase Ire highlights people who are doing positive things. Today, I'm delighted to present a talented young woman who has some wonderful advice for us all to carry into the New Year. Peggy Robles-Alvarado is an artist, wife, mother, educator and author of the book Conversations with my Skin (see the promotional video here). She has dedicated much of her time to enlightening herself and others; here’s what she had to share with me about her life and journey.   

Who is Peggy?
I was the girl who denied the truth.
I was the girl who became a woman after 12 hours of labor one stormy night.
A girl who didn’t know how to be a woman, but knew she could no longer be a girl.
Now, I am the woman who has accepted the truth, forgiven herself and become a resilient matriarch.
I am a woman who brings pride to my family.

How did you get into writing and educating?
Writing has always been my strength and it is the gift that allowed me to become an educator. Since I was able to write personal statements that sounded more like poetry and prose, with messages of personal triumph and distinction, I earned several scholarships, grants and stipends that allowed me to earn a bachelor’s degree in English. My love for learning and words motivated me to apply and receive a fellowship that provided me with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education.

While in college, I began writing poetry as part of literature assignments, but I still did not own the title of writer or author. That identify was fostered in me when I decided that I needed to heal myself from memories of my past as a teenage single mother and a victim of relationship abuse. Writing poetry allowed me to transform feelings of pain, fear, anxiety and insecurity into healing. I became a writer when I wrote my first book, Conversations With My Skin, dedicated to my daughter and our journey together.
Today I continue to teach students in the South Bronx the value of their words. They heal, transform and inspire change within themselves and others.

Any new areas you are branching into?
 I was recently hired to write and perform five original spoken word poems for a stage production that incorporated Latin dance. This form of performance poetry was an exciting challenge in that I had to write about four specific honorees, yet I had to relate to the audience who may not have ever heard of these accomplished individuals who all had achieved the American Dream on different levels and in various ways.  It was spoken word meets mambo!

This project opened the door to another on stage production where I will be writing four original poems that will be performed as songs in a musical set in the South Bronx to be completed next year. 

I am also partnering with several community service and non-profit organizations to empower youth through the arts. In addition, I am lending my support to the development of women centered documentaries that promote character building and education for at risk teens as well as women who have survived trauma.   
Finally, I am working on my second book of poetry dedicated to women who have guided, inspired, and taught me strength by example. It is a bilingual collection of poetry and prose titled Homage To The Warrior Women/ Homenaje A Las Guerreras.

What is your biggest aspiration? What would you do if money was no object?
One of my aspirations is to establish a quality educational and social foundation for young mothers and female victims of sexual abuse to gain life skills through education, counseling services, vocational training and spiritual awareness. The goal of this organization would be to create a community of young educated women who can find healing through the arts, and spiritual development and aid in the healing of others by encouraging the idea of reciprocity as a tool for empowerment.

Words of advice for the readers?
Be perfectly imperfect and always hold your head high
Reiterate and proclaim you are worth every breathe
Exude confidence in all that you do
Be resilient and do not accept defeat
Continue to walk, live, dream and speak Head High!

E se gan ni (thank you very much), Peggy, for your time and energy. For more from Peggy, visit