After coming to the US from Brazil at 20, she’s now paid her way through college via her job as an au pair.
By Kathryn Walsh and Philip Garrity
Nathalia Bernardo, Brazil
Nathalia Bernardo is a recent Purchase College graduate who put herself through school on her nanny salary. When she arrived in the US from Brazil at age 20 to work as an au pair, she learned quickly that to be in America is not necessarily to have it easy. Today, she works for a Scarsdale family and is well on her way to fulfilling her longtime dream of being a journalist. Her advice to new immigrants? “Be open to new opportunities. Be smart and stubborn and never think that it is too hard to deal with anything. If I made it through, anyone can.”
My Story: “When I came here, I didn’t speak English fluently, but knew some vocabulary. I was lucky to be in California first because they speak slower there. I had to live in my au pair coordinator’s house for a month [in between au pair jobs]. Since there was no room for me, I ended up sleeping on the couch in the living room. When I found a family in Westchester, I didn’t want to get on a plane with no money, so I sold some of my stuff, such as shoes and jeans, in a garage sale. Two families are responsible for everything I have now: the Waldmans and the Bernsteins. The Waldmans didn’t even know me, and I didn’t know them, but somehow we knew we could trust each other. After I left them, I started working full-time for the Bernstein family, whom I met during my first year in Westchester. These families are the reason why I grew as a person and as a professional.”
My relationship with my neighbors: “Some of them [treat me as an equal], but others are impolite and disrespectful. I think you put ‘Brazilian’ and ‘nanny’ in the same sentence and it causes people to be nasty and think they can act and talk to you however they want.”