On April 23rd, Marlene Garcia, Esq., known to those close the her as Marlene Sanchez, spoke with Our Time via text message and subsequently a phone call. We discussed life during COVID-19 as a New York/New Jersey licensed immigration attorney, a millennial, lessons learned, and her future hopes and desires. This interview has been edited for length.
FIRST WORDS (not like goo-goo, gah gah, but the first words to the article. “Introduction” seems to stuffy and “beginning” seems too lame — not saying they don’t have their place but for this article “FIRST WORDS” seemed to work better.)
For some a year is measured in seconds, others in minutes or in cups of coffee. Marlene Sanchez, like the Seasons of Love, measures her time on this earth, maintains her focus, and measures her life’s focus and purpose by the love she gives and shows. However, it is not enough to say that Marlene Sanchez, Esq. measures her life in the love that she gives, because this story is not that simple.
Marlene Sanchez, Esq. life is measured by her desired legacy. Her legacy is motivated and based in the love she has and carries for her parents.
Marlene is a first generation American. The daughter of two parents from the Dominican Republic. Similar to many American immigrants, Marlene Sanchez, Esq. parents came to the United States of America in search of the promises of tomorrow. Even more so, Marlene’s parents came to the United States so their daughter could dream — dreams they would not even dear allow themselves too…so that their greatest legacy…their daughter could and would prosper in ways that are for what T.E. Lawrence would consider the most dangerous men [and women].
In short, Marlene Sanchez’s parents’ legacy was and is for their daughter to be a dreamer of the day… “the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
— T.E. Lawrence
Even more remarkable Marlene Sanchez, Esq. desires a legacy and her greatest hope is to continue to become a better person, leave the world better than she found it, fight for the American principles of truth, justice, and liberty for all — all in the name and for her parents.
Marlene Sanchez, Esq. is hardwired to build a lasting legacy that will pay her parents homage.
Marlene Sanchez, Esq. story is the story of what we may hope the post COVD-19 world may become.
What is your greatest hope for the future ?
My greatest hope for the future during this current pandemic is that individuals re-evaluate their priorities in these times. Prior to COVID-19, I was so dug into work that I didn’t have time to enjoy the true blessings around me such as family, friends, and health. Today, I have an opportunity to enjoy all those things…for that I am truly thankful. All the material things I worked so hard to have, I am currently not using: closet full of designer clothes, a brand new car parked in my garage, and a fully furnished apartment, amongst other luxuries.
I have a new perspective on life. Our new reality [is] wearing a mask & gloves, wearing gym clothes or pajamas, Zoom or Skype video calls & conference calls, social distancing, working from home (those who are fortunate enough). Now more than ever, it is important to value the things that we cannot put a price tag on.
The things that are truly priceless are the things that matter. I further hope that people learn & understand their value to [and in] society. The U.S. economy is essentially closed and America wants you to return to work. Whenever we do return, it will be a new “normal.” That new normal will likely include social distancing practices for at least the next 1.5–2 years. It will be important to renegotiate the terms of your employment such as work life balance, health benefits, life insurance benefits, job security, etc.
We, especially the colored people (Black, Latino, and Native American), need to be more assertive of this. Know our worth & add tax (this is so good it had to be typed twice).
Know our worth & add tax.
— Marlene Sanchez, Esq.
Too easily Black & Latino employees are given the shorter end of the stick in the workplace because we do not know how to negotiate employment terms and/or we are intimidated by being the only one in the room.
Lastly, I hope we learn humility. During this time, our superheroes have been [are] essential workers, not necessarily those with graduate degrees & professional licenses. Essential workers are farmers, deliverymen, cashiers, train conductors, bus drivers, medical staff; perhaps the workers you may not have given much thought. This ought to humble each and every one of us.
What do you think is biggest roadblock to obtaining the “greatest hope for the future?”
I think the biggest roadblock is that after this tragedy is past us, we may forget. We [as a society] tend to easily forget what and who we were during the tough times.
Our biggest roadblock will be our ego, our arrogance, our perception.
We have to change our mindset which has been programmed for years. Go to work, pay bills, repeat. COVID-19 is a wake up call that we were not born to be robots. We are born to find and live with purpose.
Find your purpose & live in it!
Why do you think it took this crisis for you to realize that?
I think it took the COVID-19 pandemic for me and so many of us to realize these things because it usually takes a traumatic event for one to re-evaluate life’s priorities. To see so many people pass away from the coronavirus has been surreal and so tragic. You learn that life is so precious, and that disease sees no color, socioeconomic class, political beliefs, religious beliefs, etc. Moreover, to see so many people lose their jobs and corporations go under within weeks of the pandemic, has revealed so much about the instability of our economy. You learn that not only are American citizens living paycheck to paycheck, corporations have been too.
How are you going to change after this is over?
After this is over, I will make more time for my parents & my friends. I will make more time for my health, not putting off doctor visits, eating healthier, and sticking to a workout routine. I will volunteer more. I will especially try to balance more my life outside of my professional career. In sum, I will value more the things that money can’t buy.
What would you say was the reason you fell into a pattern of work over….well everything?
I believe I fell into this pattern because as a Latina woman in the legal profession I have had to work twice as hard to accomplish what I have accomplished. As such, I have become accustomed to working hard which has on instances caused me to sacrifice things like health, family, and my social life. It also comes from fulfilling my parents’ American dream. Both my parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in the 1980’s ready to build a life with better educational and economic opportunities for their children. Being their only U.S. born daughter I want to make them proud. Doing so is not easy and I love it, but I also want to be a positive example of mental health and balance to others who want to take on this journey. I want to pave a journey for other minorities like me that is emotionally & physically sustainable.
What would you say led you to your consumerism mindset?
The consumerism mentality is very much the American mentality. It is ingrained in every aspect of our society. Everything from our music choices, television and radio programming, and newspaper articles.
From the moment we are born we begin to be conditioned to consume, consume, consume, for many reasons. Two reasons being, (1) it benefits the economy, and (2) it benefits the government to keep citizens entertained with inconsequential things.
As to the second reason, if less citizens were consumed by consumerism we would have more time to find viable solutions to essential societal issues such as education, access to healthcare, affordable housing, medical research, student loan debt, immigration issues, women’s rights, age/race discrimination in the workplace, creating jobs, etc.
What would you say has been your greatest fear, that one thought, if any, that snatched you out of your sleep?
My biggest fear has and will always be losing my parents. Everything I have and will always accomplish is for them and because of them. They provide me with the emotional stability that I love and need.
— Marlene Sanchez, Esq.
Marlene Sanchez’s story is the story of so many in the millennial generation. A generation that have been instilled with the values of their parents and desire to build a lasting legacy.
A generation that longs and craves for societal change.
A generation that balances building a legacy worthy of their parents name, but also overrun with societal challenges that appear insurmountable.
A generation that is forced to work to uphold and maintain the very financial constructs that bind them and from which they seek freedom.
Marlene Sanchez, Esq. story is the story of the hardwired generation. She is one of the promises that America is set to deliver.
Marlene is a part of the generational curse, corporate sharecropping, hope of tomorrow, legacy making generation.
I leave you with Marlene Sanchez, formerly licensed and practicing as Marlene Garcia, Esq., final response from the Our Time interview.
Do you feel that you live for your parents? If they weren’t around, would you live your life differently?
Yes, in many ways I live for my parents and the values they stand for, hard-work, perseverance, drive, and determination.
If they weren’t around I probably would live life differently. I’m not sure how, but I know it would be difficult. I would still honor their memory in whatever I do.
Marlene Sanchez founded the Sanchez Law Group LLC law firm to serve immigrants in an array of legal matters.