Team Bayer

Be Proud of Your Past — Embrace your Future

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Maribel Garcia-Rodriguez, Senior Marketing Director, Adempas, at Bayer shares her personal story of bi-cultural identity and how it shapes her views on the value of inclusion, diversity, equity and access.

Maribel Garcia-Rodriguez


Be proud of your past — embrace your future. This statement is important to me as I believe in the importance of maintaining my sense of personal identity, but I also believe that it is ok to allow new experiences to enable personal evolution as I embrace the future. 


I often dwell upon how to characterize my personal identity which for many of us stems from our cultural identity — our past — coupled with our current lifestyle. On one hand, characterizing my lifestyle is easy for me because it is driven by a series of choices I have made related to family, work and interests in general. On the other hand, characterizing my cultural identity is difficult because I am a balanced blend of American and Latina.   


I was born in New York City (NYC) to a Colombian father who came to the U.S. in his 30s to chase the American dream and a Puerto Rican mother who arrived in New York as a child. My mom had three young children when she married my dad and he had a young child as well, so I was born into a blended and often complex family, raised in a low-income NYC neighborhood, struggling for the basics in an environment where it was easy to get lost. In fact, although I was the youngest, I was the first of my siblings to graduate high school and I thank my big, beautiful, troubled family for enabling me to do so. Latino culture is characterized by strong family values, and I credit all of them for rallying their hopes and dreams around me to enable my success. I honestly believe that without my dad’s hard work, my mother’s love, my brother’s protection and my sister’s friendship I would not be who I am today. 


Growing up, our meals were Latino influenced, our music was a blend of salsa, merengue, freestyle and hip hop and our language was mostly English. I am always proud to say I am “Very Latina,” but I am also very proud to be American, which makes answering the seemingly simple question “Where are you from?” a difficult one to answer. 

Where am I from?    

As many other Latinos in the U.S., the answer to this question depends on where I am and who is asking. When I am in the U.S., my usual response is that I am half Colombian and half Puerto Rican, but if I am elsewhere in the world, I am American. In essence I am always from somewhere different than my physical location, which for a large part of my life made me feel out of place and unrelatable. As I have been privileged to enjoy travel to new places and meeting new people, I have learned to recognize and embrace the value of my bi-cultural identity which enables me to see things from different points of view and recognize the value in those differences. 


Maribel Garcia-Rodriguez


I believe in the benefits of diversity because I have always had the opportunity to look at life through different lenses, to appreciate the synergies, value the differences and choose the optimal path forward based on a broader set of options. In my personal life, I get to make choices for my children that blend the beautiful traditions and values we gain from both Latino and American cultures. In my professional life, I am now comfortable in leveraging my journey as a U.S. Latina to add different options and color to the decisions that we make.


As I optimistically embrace the future, I can proudly say that the sacrifices my family made were well worth it because I am living the American Dream as a U.S. Latina thanks to them.

4 min read