Breaking barriers: Jan Carlos Santiago’s fearless approach to new beginnings from Puerto Rico to Florida

Over the last three years, the Cayey native has lived in three US states, where he has had the opportunity to grow professionally.

In Puerto Rico, Jan Carlos Santiago had everything: family, friends, and a steady job for five years at a multinational supermarket chain. However, he felt stagnant because he did not see many possibilities for professional growth.

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That's why in 2021, one day after Día de Reyes, he took his suitcases and left for Ohio, in search of a new life. “One of the reasons why I decided to leave the island is to look for more job opportunities within the company,” Santiago told Floricua. Fast forward three years, Santiago has lived in three US states. After Ohio, he spent eight months in Pennsylvania, and since last summer he has lived in Palm Bay, Florida. Santiago says he feels satisfied with the personal and professional growth he has experienced in the US. In Florida, he feels closer to his Puerto Rican roots and is about to obtain a license as an optician, which will open other doors for him. "This license will help me through my job so if at some point I want to work in another company, state or place, that will be my base. [I will] have something solid in my professional career," Santiago said. For the new Floricua, having the correct mindset has been key to achieving progress. Santiago says that he has not let language barriers or other situations get in his way. His focus has been on work.

RELATED: Republican push to cut food aid would hurt Florida Hispanics

"Before I was afraid, because I said if I go to a place alone, how am I going to survive? How am I going to pay for everything by myself? I have been in situations where I had no choice, and I took the plunge, and I am achieving it. It is very difficult.  Sometimes you think, 'Oh, this is too much. I'm going to go back to Puerto Rico,’ " Santiago said. "Or one thinks maybe in Puerto Rico I don't have everything I have here, but I'm going to live more comfortably. But really no, because what's the point of sacrificing so much? As they say, ‘swim a lot to die on the shore.’ And I say no,  if I have come this far, and I have achieved everything I want, it is because I can do it. There is no need to set limits," Santiago added.  

By Mivette Vega

January 24, 2024

Over the last three years, the Cayey native has lived in three US states, where he has had the opportunity to grow professionally.

In Puerto Rico, Jan Carlos Santiago had everything: family, friends, and a steady job for five years at a multinational supermarket chain.

However, he felt stagnant because he did not see many possibilities for professional growth.

RELATED: Where you should live in Florida based on your zodiac sign

That’s why in 2021, one day after Día de Reyes, he took his suitcases and left for Ohio, in search of a new life.

“One of the reasons why I decided to leave the island is to look for more job opportunities within the company,” Santiago told Floricua.

Fast forward three years, Santiago has lived in three US states. After Ohio, he spent eight months in Pennsylvania, and since last summer he has lived in Palm Bay, Florida.

Santiago says he feels satisfied with the personal and professional growth he has experienced in the US.

In Florida, he feels closer to his Puerto Rican roots and is about to obtain a license as an optician, which will open other doors for him.

“This license will help me through my job so if at some point I want to work in another company, state or place, that will be my base. [I will] have something solid in my professional career,” Santiago said.

For the new Floricua, having the correct mindset has been key to achieving progress. Santiago says that he has not let language barriers or other situations get in his way. His focus has been on work.

RELATED: Republican push to cut food aid would hurt Florida Hispanics

“Before I was afraid, because I said if I go to a place alone, how am I going to survive? How am I going to pay for everything by myself? I have been in situations where I had no choice, and I took the plunge, and I am achieving it. It is very difficult. Sometimes you think, ‘Oh, this is too much. I’m going to go back to Puerto Rico,’ ” Santiago said.

“Or one thinks maybe in Puerto Rico I don’t have everything I have here, but I’m going to live more comfortably. But really no, because what’s the point of sacrificing so much? As they say, ‘swim a lot to die on the shore.’ And I say no, if I have come this far, and I have achieved everything I want, it is because I can do it. There is no need to set limits,” Santiago added.

 

Author

  • Mivette Vega

    Mivette Vega is a seasoned journalist and multimedia reporter whose stories center the Latino community. She is passionate about justice, equality, environmental matters, and animals. She is a Salvadorrican—Salvadorian that grew up in Puerto Rico—that has lived in San Juan, Venice, Italy, and Miami.

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