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Check Out Kika Vila Nova’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kika Vila Nova.

Hi Kika, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
This is hard for me to summarize, as my story has taken many, many turns. I was born in Recife, a big city in Northeast Brazil. My dad was a soccer coach and, due to his travels taking on teams all over the country and sometimes internationally, the entire family lived in Portugal from the time I was 11 until 16 when we all returned to Brazil.

Since I was little, I wanted to be an actress – I always found it fascinating to become someone else and portray that on stage. I think it helped me learn empathy. When I was 19, my family moved back to Portugal but I stayed in Brazil. I was about to finish my college degree in Theatre Education and that was my passion. I also had a strong desire to study abroad and started researching Masters’s programs in Europe, as a theatre was “born” in Greece and I wanted to get my post-graduate degree there.

But I was introduced to BYU and found out they had the postgraduate degree I was looking for. After applying and taking the TOFLE and GRE tests, I received my acceptance letter to BYU’s Master’s Program in Theatre for Young Audiences. I was ecstatic! I came to the USA in July 2021, with 2 suitcases + $500 in cash, and a lot of dreams. Little did I know that I would use the $500 for that first semester’s books, haha.

I finished my Masters in 2005 and, in 2006, I got married to a boy I had met when I arrived. We got divorced when our daughter was almost 2 and are the best of friends. He’s still the person I call first when I have news to share and she is lucky to have such a present dad. He has since remarried and we all get along great and spend important dates and holidays together.

Even though I love my degree and everything about it (using theatre techniques to help children with special needs), I never found employment in the area in Utah.  I have then worked a variety of jobs: customer service, sales, business development, international development, software renewal sales, customer success management and currently recruiting for a tech company.

I have an Instagram that I dedicate to my hiking and travel pictures as I found peace and healing in the outdoors. I had back surgery in early 2017 and have some other injuries that prevent me from being too hardcore on the trails, but it’s a passion of mine to make sure all know that the outdoors is a place to connect and heal and that, even though media has for a long time shared imaged with only a certain type of person in the outdoors, it’s really for EVERYONE!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has definitely not been a smooth road. I faced a lot of racism and discrimination during my years at BYU. Postpartum depression was intense, the divorce was hard, I contemplated moving back to Brazil then, and felt very incapable of raising a child on my own here. Changing careers often and having to be the sole “breadwinner” in my household was scary, adding to that the responsibility of helping my family back home when needed… But I know that we all have challenges that can make or break us. I eventually learned to ask myself “what is the lesson here? what can I learn?” and this perspective has been helping me learn a lot while overcoming any obstacle thrown my way.

Through these times, I was also very fortunate to have a very good support system around me, friends who helped me immensely, and professionals like therapists to help me stay sane enough to keep going. 🙂

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I have several passions and have worked a variety of jobs, but one thing I can’t deny: I thrive when I get to work closely with PEOPLE! I started working at the company I’m now at as a Customer Success Manager, onboarding new business partners and helping them utilize our products to their full potential. Earlier this year though, I moved to the Talent Acquisition Department and am now a Sr Recruiting Specialist. I get to chat with people almost every day, get to know them, and learn about their passions and where they see themselves in their careers. It’s been so fun!

I have learned a LOT in the past few months about what to look for when reading resumes and what to dig into during that first phone interview. I also have a big passion for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and am working on a lot of research to help the company I work for being a place where all feel even more welcomed and celebrated.

Before we go, is there anything else you can share with us?
I can always share more, haha I am open to questions as well, I have often shared on Instagram my experiences as an immigrant, as someone who got a post-graduate degree here, learned a second language, went through a divorce with no family around, raising a daughter with the help of my close friends and her very present dad, and have succeeded in every job I was able to get. I considered myself a bit lucky, but the rest is all hard work, determination and patience.

One thing I want to share is that I have been an ambassador for Women Who Explore (@womenwhoexplore) for 4 years now. This community was created for all identifying women to gather and enjoy the outdoors and all that life has to offer. We host events all over the world and spread the message that all bodies, genders, and ability levels belong outside. Readers can find a Women Who Explore community close to them by searching on Facebook and Instagram.

Adding to my love and passion for the outdoors and belief that we all belong in there, I also believe that representation matters and that our world benefits from diversity. I want to be known for motivating those around me to pursue their happiness, travel and follow their hearts, spend time doing the things they love, and practice gratitude every single day.

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