We had the good fortune of connecting with Adrian Vasquez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Adrian, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
One of my favorite quotes was given to me when I was 21 years old by a mentor of mine. He told me, “You know what makes you a failure when you fail to correct a mistake or afraid to try.” Those words to this day resonate in my life and have a special meaning to me. We have all made mistakes in life, and some cannot be repaired, however I feel we have the power to either make amends or make changes. There have been moments where I felt I gave up or did not do enough the feelings of failure set in. Yet, looking back I realized I did not fail I did use all options available to either change or make those amends. That is when I realized I am not a failure, but a person who can face challenges and find a way to accept and overcome them.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I work for a foundation where we allocate funds to non-profit organizations which are doing the work of positive youth development in the County of Los Angeles. As their program associate, I bring the uniqueness of my lived experience of growing up in the very same marginalized communities we are funding. I understand the community and what their needs are to better allocate these funds.

It was not easy to get where I am on a professional level. I had a huge pause in my life which landed me with a background and constantly being stigmatized for my past. It has hindered me in obtaining certain types of employment which involve licensing, housing, being judged, and dating. Fortunately, I have been able to surround myself with positive peers who helped me to transition back into society and excel.

Lessons learned; your past does not define who you are today if you continue to make positive changes in your life. Transformation comes within and never see yourself as a failure. One must endure pain to learn and grow to become a better person. I realized surrounding yourself with a core of positive people who care and believe in you will help you to achieve change and your goals. Never be afraid to ask for help.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles has so many cool and exciting places to visit. I would pick three places to show friends around. I would take them to the Laugh Factory in Long Beach and to a restaurant, and dive bar in Downtown Los Angeles.

I am a big supporter and aficionado of comedy. I genuinely enjoy attending and having great laughs at the Laugh Factory. I feel laughter is important in one’s life. At the Laugh Factory in Long Beach, my friends would have a blast with the comedians and their jokes. It has a great ambiance, and the staff is amazing.

The restaurants and dive bars in Downtown Los Angeles bring a variety and flavor of what L.A. has to offer. I would start with Mezcal drinks served by Miguel at Las Perlas which is by far the best I had. We would head off to Joey’s Restaurant for some fantastic food and top it off with some dancing at the little dive bar called La Cita Bar.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I like to give recognition to a core group of people whom I call my family and friends. My mother, father, brothers Cesar and Anthony. Scott Budnick, Todd Rubenstein, Grant Meisenholder, Shihan Mitz Yamashita, and Cheryl Bonacci for always believing in me from day one. Marc Vahanian for being there when I needed a call. My brothers and sisters from another mother, Irving Relova, John Schimmel, Sam Lewis, Michael Thompson, Frank ‘Blue’ Willis, Adam Mortera, Hugo Gonzales, Jesse Rugge, Cameron Chacker, Richard Retamosa, Jose Gonzales, Joe Louis, Isaac Lopez, Vincente Rosales, Emiliano Lopez, Kevin Bie, Esteban Nunez, Kirn Kim, Edson Trujillo, Erica Jimenez, Sheyla Ortiz, Vanessa Renteria, Yadira Perez, Irene Sotelo, and Yesenia Rodriguez. Big shout-out to Jose Romero, Justin Rodriguez, James Binnall, Frankie Guzman, Jose Cervantes, Brenda Vogel, Sean Kennedy, Christopher Hawthorne, and Marisa Sacks for opening your doors, trusting me, and giving me the light to go after my dream to apply for law school. Everyone else, I did not mention thank you!

Instagram: adrianva89

Facebook: Adrian Va

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