Champion for Change: Monica Torres

Monica Torres {The Little Market}Photo by Alandra Chavarria

Monica Torres has worked at The Little Market since graduating from Chapman University in December 2015. She graduated with a BS in Business Administration and a BA in Spanish. She enjoys reading, soccer, and spending time her family. Monica is joining the Peace Corps in March 2018!

Please tell us about your role at The Little Market. How has your role as Production Coordinator evolved over the past few years?

As Production Coordinator, I’ve worked in the operational side of The Little Market. My role has definitely evolved during these last two years. When I first came on board, there were about four of us working full time; now we have a team of almost five times that first amount. It has been incredible to see so much growth in such a short span of time. With that growth, my role changed from being the one reaching out to potential artisan partners to being our “accounts payable department of one.” From the beginning, one of my roles was learning how to place orders with the various groups we work with. Every group we work with is a different story, and I have loved learning about each one.

What do you love the most about your role at The Little Market?

Being in communication with our partners is one of my favorite parts of my role. I am able to hear from our contacts that the artisans we are working with are excited to receive orders from us. They tell me about the projects they are working on with them, and all of it is very inspirational. When I hear that they are working to open a new school, workshop, or bringing on additional women to their organization, it brightens my day. I have also had incredible support from my colleagues, and I have been able to learn so much from them. They’ve trusted me to work on many projects that I had no idea I would be working on!

We are going to miss you but are so excited for your new opportunity at the Peace Corps! What drew you to the Peace Corps? 

I first grew interested in the Peace Corps while I was finishing my undergrad degree. I looked into the type of work they do and positions they had available and I was interested, but I decided to wait to apply until I had some work experience. Working at The Little Market, I was constantly learning of the different projects our partners were working on and was reminded that I really wanted to apply to the Peace Corps. I feel like The Little Market was such a great place to learn more about the many women who are striving to improve their life opportunities, and it motivated me more to make the decision to apply.

What are your plans at the Peace Corps? What are looking forward to the most?

I will be volunteering in Peru for two-and-a-half years in the Community Economic Development sector, which focuses on working with of community members to improve their economic opportunities so that they have a better opportunity to improve their quality of life. I am really looking forward to exploring a new country and getting to know its people and culture. I’m also excited to form new relationships with the people I will be working with and doing what I can to help.

We admire that in each role you have taken on, there is a common thread of making a difference in the lives of others around the world. What does helping others mean to you?

Helping others is what I have been taught and what I have experienced throughout my life. I have seen my parents strive to help others in whatever way they can and I have received help from others in a way that has helped me achieve life goals. It means taking the time to recognize that I am extremely fortunate and seeing that I have certain resources that can be used to help others.

Who were your mentors growing up?

In college, I worked as a student assistant for one of the university’s vice chancellors. He is passionate about education and providing education to all who want it regardless of their background. He is someone I look up to for providing so many resources to me and for guiding me throughout my college experience. He mentored me and is one of the many people who motivate me to look into what I can do for others.

Do you have a favorite book?

I read “The Alchemist” not too long ago, and I was reminded to stay focused on pursuing my goals and dreams. The idea of joining the Peace Corps and leaving home for two years seemed daunting, but it is also something that I had been wanting to do and I’m very excited about the adventure that’s to come!   

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’m pretty sure a few people have told me to not be afraid to step out of my comfort zone. It’s always a good reminder to put myself in situations that will help me grow as a person and that will help me learn more about who I am and where I want to go in life.

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