Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gabriela Lira's Nashville story preceded by sunny Santa Monica and a "cheesy pick-up line" that reeled in her Michoacan mother

Gabriela Lira
Gabriela Lira went to Yale undergrad and got her MBA at Pepperdine ("one of the most beautiful campuses I ever laid my eyes on," she says). Lira, a southern California native, followed her family to Nashville about a year ago. Now a realtor at Village Real Estate, this fairly new Nashvillian told HispanicNashville.com a little bit about her background.

Lira was born and raised in Los Angeles. Spanish was the language spoken at home - and what young Gabriela spoke first:
English is my second language. I learned English at school. At home Spanish was spoken, so that was the language I first learned to read and write. People who know me now don't believe that English is my second language, and Spanish speakers compliment me on my Spanish since I am U.S.-born.
"I come from a big, tight-knit Mexican family," Lira says. Her mother is from the state of Michoacan in Western Mexico, and her father is from the state of Zacatecas, a couple of states to the north. The two met in the U.S. in 1978 "in a grocery store parking lot," according to Lira, "where he used a cheesy pick-up line that somehow worked."

The two had immigrated to the U.S. separately, her mother in 1975, and her father a few years before that. They both came here "in search for better opportunities," Lira tells me. As for her parents' navigation of the immigration bureaucracy:
When they met, my father was a resident. He became a resident because he had a daughter from a previous relationship who was born in the U.S., and back then (I'm guessing) those were sufficient grounds. My mother encouraged him to become a citizen, and she was able to become a resident in 1985 because they married. She remembers this year because it was the year before the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. She became a citizen about 3 years later.
A divorce when Lira was 10 led to her father's return to Mexico in the early 2000's. Her mother and other family members had already relocated to Tennessee by then.

Lira followed them to the Volunteer State last year. The pull to Tennessee was not because of a lack of interest in her home state:
Like most Californians I love the sun, the beach, bike rides on the promenade, and the diversity (both in people and food) that southern California has to offer. I never thought that I would leave Santa Monica. ... I lived nine short blocks away from Ocean Avenue and would wake up every morning to join the cult of Santa Monica runners for a morning jog to the beach. I had a great group of friends, plenty to do, and a blossoming career in luxury real estate. I loved Santa Monica so much that I even decided to stay local for graduate school.
Lira's California resume - in addition to real estate - includes the business of pharmaceuticals, health and wellness. She worked at Pfizer for 7 years, changing jobs after Pepperdine and relocating to San Francisco. Lira was in the City by the Bay when she decided to move to Nashville:
Truth be told, I was missing one huge factor in my life, my family. So after doing a quick SWOT analysis (just kidding) I packed my bags, sold almost everything I owned, and moved across the country to be closer to my family. In hindsight, that was the best decision that I have made in my life thus far. I love the people here, the Southern culture, the scenery, and most certainly being close to my family. I also found a home as a realtor at Village Real Estate Services because my love affair with real estate continues. All in all I am a very blessed lady. 
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