LATINO VOICES

How This Colombian Immigrant Went From Dog Walker To CEO

04/13/2015 05:31 pm ET | Updated Apr 13, 2015

Paola Moya had dreams of success when she first immigrated to the United States from Colombia as a teenager in 1999. But like many immigrants she lacked necessary resources and was forced to take a job as a dog walker until she could pursue a life in design and architecture, she told HuffPost Live on Friday.

Moya also told host Ricky Camilleri that, when she arrived to the U.S. with her family at the age of 19, they "didn't have anything at all" and she had to put her college education on hold. Thus, despite her "tremendous" fear of dogs, she took a job as a dog walker.

"I had to work for at least three, four years to support the family," she said, later adding, "We didn't know exactly what was going to happen or how we were going to evolve in this country."

But Moya, now 34, had a fierce a determination. She eventually went back to school and earned a master's degree in architecture from Catholic University. She is now the CEO and principal at Marshall Moya Design, and last year she was awarded the Minority Business Leader Award from the Washington Business Journal.

During her conversation with HuffPost Live, Moya reflected on her journey with a calm disbelief.

"The way that I have been able to grow --from the time that I came to the time that I became business partnered, to even just being here -has been just a lot. I mean, I look back and I say, 'How did I do that?'" she said.

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