For Dominican-born Carmen Olivo Rosario, settling in Greater Orlando wasn’t just a lifestyle choice – it was a matter of safety. Having been a resident of the New York metropolitan area ever since her family arrived at JFK Airport from the Dominican municipality of Navarrete in 1982, she had the ill-luck of being stranded in Manhattan both on the morning of September 11th, 2001, and during the 2003 blackout.
“I was not happy with my commute, or the stress of leaving your home not knowing if you’d return,” she says. So she made an announcement to her husband, Alex: “Let’s move anywhere, but we’re not staying here.”
An article in Family Circle had recommended Orlando as one of the best places in America to raise a family, so the die was cast.
“We both moved to Orlando with no jobs, but with months’ worth of expenses set aside to give us time to find work and buy a home,” she remembers.
Though she had been in advertising up to that point, she earned her realty license upon arriving here and began selling properties. All the while, she was running “a small side hustle” of making cakes for weddings and other celebrations; she eventually took that long-standing passion to the next level by pursuing an associate’s degree in French Baking and Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu, ultimately graduating with honors.
She currently works for the Orlando Utilities Commission OUC, where she started in 2014 as an administrative assistant and now acts as a coordinator for the Fleet and Facilities Division. She also does Quality and Training for the Logistics division to get their teams ready for hurricane season.
The diversity of our area’s school systems is just one reason Ms. Rosario considers Central Florida a great place for herself, her husband, and her two children to live. She also values the opportunities she has here to stay in touch with her Dominican background: Her family patronizes establishments like Fancy Fruits & Produce Lechonera Latina and ChimiKing. At home, they speak Spanish, prepare traditional foods, and celebrate significant days on the Dominican calendar.
“It’s something I want my children and their children to remember, carry with them and celebrate,” she says. “I’m proud of our people.”