My Role Model: Maria Santa


Tanysha Mendez Rodriguez


A role model is a person who you look up to and aspire to be like. My role model is a woman named Maria Santa. I first met her when I was four years old at the First Presbyterian Church in Paterson, NJ. She has seen me grow from a little baby to the teenager I am today. Every Sunday when I went to church, there was a time where all the children got separated from the adults and we would go to a different section of the church. Maria Santa would sit us all down and teach us all these different types of life lessons. We would converse for about an hour. When the kids from my church and I were younger the lessons were mostly about the bible and stories of when Jesus was alive on Earth, but when we became older, the lessons turned more into life preparation.

Some examples of the life lessons she taught us were how to realize when someone in your life is toxic to you and how to let them go, how to love yourself and not care about others opinions on you, and how to deal with your emotions when you get upset. These lessons have stuck with me throughout all these years. I don’t only look up to her for the things that she has taught me, but for the way she treats others as well. She always has this kind smile on her face and always greets you with a kiss on the cheek and a hug. She always makes sure you’re doing good and if you say you aren’t, she asks if you want to talk about your situation. She never wants anyone to feel left out.

I’ve known Ms. Santa for almost 14 years and I’ve never seen her raise her voice at anyone. She’s just the sweetest, most genuine person I’ve ever come across. And although right now no one can attend church because of Covid-19, she still found a way to teach us children at the church her lessons. She and her daughter, Natalia Cruz, upload videos onYouTube for us to listen to. I think It’s very smart and thoughtful of them to do. I appreciate everything Maria has ever done for me. And when I’m all grown up and have a family of my own, I would like to tell my children all the things that she told me that has helped me tremendously. Here’s a link to their YouTube channel:

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