Genesis Valverde (center) accompanies Moroccan street-side performers in Parc Guelle while studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

by Joseph Mastando

As graduation approaches and senior projects begin settling in, senior Public Relations major Genesis Valverde has a lot planned for Mount Saint Mary College. On April 28th, the Norra Cronin Presentation Academy will be hosting Valverde’s senior project, a young women’s empowerment event she calls “I am Beautiful, I am Me”.

As a Bronx native, eclecticism has never been a foreign concept to Valverde. She grew in a household that encouraged the arts, a household in which music was of great importance. Valverde describes her youth as if everyday she would “take a trip around the world without a passport,” since her family had such a diverse taste in music.

Music inspired Valverde in her youth, and this led her to realize her dreams of becoming a performer. Valverde has been no stranger to Mount Saint Mary  College’s Aquinas Hall Theatre stage. She has performed in For Colored Girls and at Vespers, and is one of the original members of the school’s improv group “Improvocative.” At the age of eight, Valverde began studying Music Theory and Voice, and she completed her studies at the age of eighteen. She became a part of High Bridge Voices, and with them, Valverde has performed on Good Morning America and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade–just to name a few. On her own accord, Valverde has also graced the stage in both Footloose and Little Shop of Horrors. However, with an academically driven family, Valverde felt the need to create a “plan B” as she called it.

Valverde decided that any career she considered pursuing had to deal with helping others. So, as a Freshman at Mount Saint Mary College, she declared a major in Biology, thinking that only as a doctor could she accomplish this. Eventually, after two years of pursuing the program, her big personality and bold fashion seemed to be too much for a hospital room to handle; Valverde channeled her personality for the better and began working as a Public Relations major, hoping to help others in avenues of life other than medical. This chain of events has led Valverde to establish “I am Beautiul, I am Me.”

The idea for “I am Beautiful, I am Me” derived from experiences Valverde had in her youth. As a child, she did not feel comfortable in her skin, and she became affected by the images of woman that are portrayed in magazines and on television. Now, as a strong-minded young woman, Valverde thought it impertinent to help the little girls who suffer from the issues she had in her youth, and she saw a younger version of herself in many of the girls in Newburgh.

Valverde’s program plans to encourage self-respect, empowerment, and the pride of being a woman in all of the attendees. However, she thought that this would only be achievable with the help of the girls’ mothers. “My strength is my mom,” says Valverde, “and I want to encourage these girls to form similar relationships with their moms.”

At the event, there is much for one to expect. The girls will be surrounded by positive energy, while learning about proper nutrition and cosmetic tips for the mothers, such as getting their nails done. As a result of Valverde’s passions, there will be lots of music, which will aid in helping the girls find their own identities–a central purpose for the young girls at the event. In addition, there will be the availability for many pictures and fun-filled dance opportunities with Zumba!

After graduation, Valverde hopes to merge her passions of music and helping others together. She plans on broadening her freelance Public Relations experiments that are currently underway. Valverde works on promoting musical artists by helping book performances, providing feedback on songs, and creating albums. However, her aspirations do not stop here. “Aside from doing freelance,” Valverde says, “I want to work in the music and television sectors while continuing to spread “I am Beautiful. I am Me.”

Whether we see her on a billboard or hear of her accomplishments in her local community, Valverde’s face will continue to be recognized as she pursues her goals. If you have ever seen her walk across campus, you know first hand that she is an undeniable presence among the masses. I think we all can agree that we are thankful to have our own little place in the book of Genesis.