They Can’t Take Away Your Education

Photo Credit: Addictive Creative

To honor American independence and July 4, CircleAround is collaborating all month long with NAWBO (the National Association of Women Business Owners) in a series of posts exploring the following prompt: "What do liberty and independence mean to me as a woman business owner and female entrepreneur?"  

My parents are from Sagua La Grande, Cuba. My parents married in 1956 and immigrated to the United States in 1959. I was born in 1963. I am a first-generation Cuban. 

Freedom to me as a woman business owner is heritage, education, and entrepreneurship. This is my story in a nutshell.

My father is from a very wealthy family because his mother’s family owned sugar plantations. My dad could have gone straight into the family business, but he decided that it was better to gain experience outside of the family business so that he would not be perceived as having his position in the company just because he was part of the family. My dad studied mechanical engineering at Auburn University in Alabama. At the time he was attending college in the United States, he did not realize how critical that would be for his professional career a few years down the road. From very early on, my dad would tell me that the best inheritance he could give me was my college education! He said that the Cuban government can take away your money and your possessions, but no one can take away your education. 

My mother is not from a wealthy family, but her parents were both hardworking entrepreneurs. Both of my mother’s parents did not get to graduate high school, but they were very industrious. My grandfather opened a neighborhood market, and my grandmother had a photography studio and a dress boutique. I remember hearing their stories while I was growing up. My mother’s parents left Cuba in 1959, but since they did not have college educations and they did not have command of the English language, they had to take factory jobs in New York City. I was very close to my maternal grandmother. She passed away at the age of 96 in 2011. She was an inspiration to me because she was such a strong and independent woman, well before women were doing their own thing.

[My maternal grandmother] was an inspiration to me because she was such a strong and independent woman, well before women were doing their own thing.

I graduated with a BA in psychology from Bryn Mawr College in 1985. I worked in social work until 1987. I moved on to work for an import/export company in 1987 and started to learn sales. I got married in 1987 and my first child was born in November of 1990. I did not want to put my tiny little baby in day care. I did not know what I could do to work for myself. I thought about translations, but that was not really my cup of tea (I had done it a few times on a freelance basis and did not care for it). My husband had come across a person who was remanufacturing toner cartridges for HP laser printers. It was a very new industry back then. I was very interested in the concept because of the recycling aspect of it. As a new mother, I had a deeper concern for the environment. I decided to give it a whirl and become a reseller for this particular manufacturer. Parmetech was “born” in January 1991, and our tagline was “Recycle for the Next Generation.” My husband joined forces with me, and we gave it our best effort. Well, that was 29 years ago, and we have evolved into a full-service IT and office-equipment reseller and services provider of comprehensive Managed Print Services (MPS) solutions.

This post is part of a series produced by CircleAround and NAWBO. Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses and female entrepreneurs in the United States.

Ana Fernandez-Parmet, 56, is a mother of five and president of Parmetech, Inc., an office-technology solutions provider in the greater Philadelphia region.

GIRL SCOUT AFFILIATION: Ana was a Girl Scout in sixth and seventh grades, and the summer between her sixth and seventh grade years, she went to a two-week Girl Scouts sleep-away camp in Missouri: Camp Cedarledge. It was a horseback-riding camp.

CircleAround Powered by Girl Scouts™ is operated by a wholly owned subsidiary of Girl Scouts of the USA. The site serves adult women nationwide by providing content that is uplifting, thought-provoking, and useful. We make revenue distributions back to GSUSA so they can further their mission of building girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.


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