Always Celebrating Hispanic Heritage
As the HR Lead and Accountant for Vignetic, Betsy Matos has watched the company grow and evolve in the seven years since she began as a staff accountant. Born and raised in Peru, Betsy, her older brother and sister joined their mother in New Jersey when she was just seven years old after their mother came to the United States in search of a better life. Quickly embracing English, Betsy went on to attend several schools in the New Jersey area and earned her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University.
We caught up with Betsy to talk about her role models, mentorship and her thoughts on cultural representation. With Hispanic Heritage Month coming to a close, she also shared how her family honors tradition as a means of keeping her culture alive and welcoming the new opportunities afforded to them today.
You just celebrated a big work anniversary. Congratulations! Tell us about your role and the changes you’ve seen at Vignetic.
I started working with Vignetic right after I graduated from Rutgers University in 2014. I worked as a staff accountant and since then have taken on more responsibilities and different roles. I have seen Vignetic grow through the years, and I am excited to see what’s ahead for us.
Tell us about your upbringing. You came to the U.S. as a child. What was that like?
We didn’t know the language when we came here. We came in August and then started school in September. It was like a whole different world for us, completely strange. Everything was in English and thankfully my first-grade teacher was bilingual.
That had to be difficult. Did you have any role models that looked like you growing up?
As an immigrant and first-generation college graduate, my mom was my role model. My mom who migrated to the U.S. like everyone else – for the “American Dream.” I watched her keep pushing in life and keep moving forward. As I get older, I appreciate all the effort and sacrifices our parents made for us to be where we are right now.
We know how important inclusion and representation are so young people can “see themselves” in different walks of life. Were you fortunate to have a mentor who looked like you to help guide your path?
That’s something I wish I had… I had to start working in high school to set the stage for my career. I moved around and attended several schools so with all that happening at once, I really had to carve my own path. It certainly would have helped me though and, nowadays especially, it is so important for young people. My nieces and nephews look up to me and I take that a real responsibility. I make sure every resource is available to them so they can accomplish anything they want in life.
For Hispanics, generally speaking, do you feel like there are enough opportunities out there? Do you think any one area is particularly lacking?
Overall, I think it’s more about identifying what you really want and staying dedicated to achieving that goal. There often isn’t a clear path to take, and the challenge is trying to find the best way to get there. It’s more about you having to dig deep to find what you really want and having the belief in yourself to overcome any hurdle.
Do you see a difference in what your three- and five-year old sons are experiencing as Hispanic-American children today than what you did growing up?
I am always saying things like, “I know you’re young and don’t understand what I am telling you, but you must count your blessings. You have got to take advantage of what Mommy and Daddy are giving you. You are very lucky. You’re very blessed to have all the opportunities you do because we didn’t have that growing up.”
Tell us about how you keep your Peruvian culture and traditions alive?
Food is big. We cook a lot of Peruvian dishes so I carry on tradition their stomachs. My boys love Peruvian food! We are more Spanish speaking at home too. Everything that they watch, I want to say is 90% Spanish-speaking. It is important to us that they know their roots and we make an effort to keep them connected to their culture.
Any dishes you make in particular?
One of my family’s favorite dishes is estofado de pollo, similar to chicken stew. It’s made with potatoes, carrots, chicken, peas, just to mention a few ingredients. Very delicious!
I like getting my kids involved in cooking and food. Tastes tie to memories very strongly so it brings me back and helps connect all of us to where we come from. And my husband is Colombian so they have two Hispanic cultures in the house. They are different in certain traditions, but we enjoy celebrating our cultures and making new memories together.