In these two interviews, Bernadette Aulestia, Brown University class of 1994, discusses her time at Brown, her career path, and her family’s experience with the COVID-19 global pandemic.
In part one, Aulestia begins by describing her childhood living in various places throughout Asia and Latin America. She explains that her father, who worked in the Foreign Service, highly valued education and that she considered going to Brown from a young age because a mentor had done the same. She also remembers almost not going to Brown because of the delay in the mail systems between Rhode Island and Ecuador. Aulestia goes on to reminisce about move-in day with her mother, pledging as a Kappa Alpha Theta, and spending time on the green. She also shared memories of homesickness and fear when she had to tell her father about changing her concentration. Additionally, she discusses comparisons between her experiences on campus and that of her daughter, Naomi, Brown University class of 2023.
Aulestia continues part one by explaining how she began her first job as an investment banking analyst for Kidder Peabody and how a layoff forced her into new opportunities. She shares advice on how to make career changes and how to network and learn new skills. She also details the assistance she received from different mentors that eventually led her to HBO where she worked for over twenty years.
In part two, Aulestia explains why she decided to leave HBO in 2019 and her family’s decision to live in Costa Rica while she figured out her next career move. She talks about learning of COVID-19 while she was in Costa Rica and making the decision to move back to her home in New Jersey. She discusses traveling in mid-March 2020 while also trying to get her daughter, Naomi, home from Brown and her daughter, Zoe, home from Peru after it had closed its borders. She goes on to share how they learned that Zoe had COVID-19 and how her family managed social distancing and recovery. Aulestia also talks about her work on the Brown Corporation during the pandemic and her appreciation for female leadership at the state and university levels during that time.
Before closing part two of her interview, Aulestia discusses the murder of George Floyd, the challenging conversations that followed both at work and in her home, and her family’s participation in Black Lives Matter marches. She also reminisces about Inauguration Day 2021 and watching Joe Biden become President and Kamala Harris become Vice President. Throughout her interviews, Aulestia reflects on these moments at a Latina and as a mother of three multi-ethnic daughters.