Close-up of smiling woman's face.

Learning the “Immigrant Way”

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By Isabella Lucci

A first generation American, Sonia Lucci has made quite the career and family for herself. She graduated from Oakland University in 2000, with a major in Marketing and a minor in International Business. While working at an office job that satisfied her major, she moved on to her passion, opening a nail and aesthetics salon in her home. Now, the mother of four children, she is a full-time entrepreneur and a devote Catholic. Sonia has overcome diversity in her own childhood, that has made her the woman she is today.

Where is your family originally from and when did they come to the United States?

Close-up of smiling woman's face.
Sonia Lucci poses in her backyard in Macomb, Michigan, on Friday, Oct. 25, 2019. Born from immigrant parents, Sonia experienced challenges while still graduating from Oakland University in 2000 and following her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Photo credit: Isabella Lucci.

My mother and father lived in the small town of Pacentro in Italy growing up. They both traveled to America in 1969 but were not together. It was not until 1972 that they met and got married years later.

How has your ethnicity impacted your life?

I feel like it has made me a more well-rounded person. It has exposed me to different customs and traditions other than Italian. It has also made me very grateful for the advantages I had growing up because my parents had to make many sacrifices when they first came over.

Explain how your parents were when you were growing up in relation to schoolwork.

Growing up, my sisters and myself relied on ourselves and each other for schoolwork. My parents did not help with any of that sort of thing. For one thing, they did not comprehend the English language and the type of lessons we learned in class. Another thing was, it was just a different mentality. They were raised on a farm, so that’s what they grew up with. It was a different way of thinking. We were always expected and encouraged to do well in school and in our careers later.

How has your family changed over time?

My family has changed with the times. As we got older, they incorporated the American lifestyle into our household. They came to this country not knowing the language or how to drive a car and did both as their family started to grow.

How was the way you grew up different from your neighbor for example?

For instance we were the only ones who had a miniature farm in our backyard. My parents brought their love of farming and growing their own foods to this new country. It was our lifestyle. It still today is their lifestyle. We were the only kids on the block that lived with our grandma, aunt, and uncle. We were the only ones that did not order pizza or Burger King for dinner.

Have you brought your children up the same way you were?

I have tried to bring them up with the same values and way of thinking that I was for sure, but it is a different time. We hold the same traditions and customs, but it is different. Italian was primary in my household, I had parents who didn’t know the English language. I grew up in a different society, so I think everyone is just modernized.

What role did diversity have in your life growing up?

It was always a part of my life because my parents always exposed us to different ethnicities besides Italian, and always taught us regardless of someone’s color of skin and race, we were to treat them as humans.

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