Tamara Mena is a motivational speaker, host, spokesperson, model, innovative product representative, survivor and eternal optimist. Tamara was born and raised in Mexico by a courageous mother and surrounded by a loving family. She immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 13 and continued with her life-long dream to graduate from college. At the age of 19, she suffered a car accident that left her paralyzed and, unfortunately, killed her loving boyfriend who saved her life. After surviving that horrific accident, with an immeasurable appreciation for life, she chose to dedicate her life to share her message of hope, and above all, motivate people to believe in themselves. Despite the great tragedy she endured, she never lost sight of her goals, and most importantly, she decided to see herself as a survivor, not a victim; and in such manner, she decided to live her life as a warrior, always fighting for her ideals.
With a renewed drive, Tamara resumed to her studies, attended California State University Stanislaus, majored in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and graduated with highest honors (Summa Cum Laude), in addition to numerous academic awards. Tamara was selected as the commencement speaker and gave an address to 10,000 people. She received a standing ovation and is the first graduate in a wheelchair to give a commencement speech and receive the most prestigious recognition awarded by the president of CSU Stanislaus. Tamara has been invited as a keynote speaker at numerous events and highly prestigious conferences such as the G-20 Summit, Ciudad de las Ideas and others. Tamara is an Ekso Bionics Ambassador and has thankfully walked again with their exoskeleton on numerous stages all over the world.
She has been featured on several TV shows, English and Spanish-speaking in the U.S. including Inside Edition, The Doctors, Sabado Gigante, the longest running TV show in Spanish, with an unbelievable record as she’s been invited 3 times. She has reached people overseas with her TV appearance on Spain’s most popular TV show El Hormiguero, impacting millions of people all over the world with her determination to succeed. Tamara has been interviewed by many publications, newspapers and magazines, including the well-known business magazine Fast Company, IEEE Spectrum, the largest technology magazine, The Huffington Post and others. She has also been featured in several magazines on the cover page, her most recent cover on Hispanic Health & Beauty Magazine.
Tamara has modeled for a number of businesses ranging from TiLite Wheelchairs, a titan in the industry, Ekso Bionics, technological leader and innovator, to internationally known fashion designers such as, Nino Lettieri and Norma Kamali. As a model, she has experience working in front of the cameras, photo sessions, commercials, product demonstrations, all the way to runway modeling. Tamara was the first model to represent the U.S. at the revolutionizing and international fashion show, Modelle & Rotelle that takes place in Rome, Italy. Modelle & Rotelle, the first high fashion show in the world that integrates standing and sitting models in wheelchairs, all in one event. Tamara was also the presenter and host at Modelle & Rotelle, covering the event and backstage interviews to be shared with the world, demonstrating fashion is for all and beauty comes in different ways.
Tamara’s desire to break barriers and make her dreams come true, took her this year to compete and actually make it on Nuestra Belleza Latina 2013, a beauty pageant and famous television show. She shocked the producers and judges, as she is the first contestant in a wheelchair to ever audition in the history of the show. Further than her physical condition or impressing story, she impacted them for her ability to demonstrate her talent on stage as a host, beauty, personality and desire to succeed, motivating millions of viewers. Tamara is currently writing her first book, and continues to highlight her talent as a public speaker and host. Tamara maintains focused on working on meaningful projects and events with a greater purpose.
-Tamara Mena nació y creció en México a lado de una madre valiente y rodeada de una familia amorosa. Tamara emigró a E.U. a la edad de 13 años y continuó con su sueño de toda la vida, graduarse de la universidad. Después de sobrevivir un terrible accidente automovilístico a la edad de 19 años, con un aprecio inmensurable hacia la vida, Tamara decidió dedicar su vida a compartir su mensaje de esperanza, y ante todo, motivar a la gente a creer en sí mismos. A pesar de la gran tragedia que atravesó, en la cual perdió a su novio y la habilidad de caminar, nunca perdió la visión de sus metas, y el punto más vital fue que decidió verse como sobreviviente, no una víctima, y de tal manera decidió vivir como guerrera siempre luchando por sus ideales.
Con un impulso renovado, Tamara retomó sus estudios, asistió a la Universidad Estatal de California de Stanislaus, se especializó en Comunicación y se graduó con los honores más altos (Summa Cum Laude) en adición de numerosos premios por sus logros académicos. Tamara ha sido invitada como oradora principal en numerosos eventos y conferencias de alto prestigio, entre ellas el G20, Ciudad de las Ideas y otras. Ha sido destacada en varios programas de televisión, en inglés y en español (Desde “The Doctors” hasta “Sábado Gigante”), así como en programas internacionales, tales como “El Hormiguero” impactando a millones de personas al rededor del mundo por su espíritu de superación. También ha sido destacada en varias revistas de renombre.
Tamara ha modelado para una serie de empresas, desde TiLite Wheelchairs, un titán de la industria, Ekso Bionics, líder tecnológico e innovador, hasta diseñadores internacionales de moda y de renombre tales como, Nino Lettieri y Norma Kamali. Como modelo, tiene amplia experiencia trabajando en frente de las cámaras, sesiones fotográficas, comerciales, demostraciones de productos, incluyendo modelaje en pasarela. Tamara siempre está en busca de oportunidades que resaltan sus habilidades y ha conducido varios eventos. Ha tenido la gran fortuna de mezclar su pasión por presentar y conducir con la moda. Entró al casting para el desfile de modas internacional, “Modelle & Rotelle” que se lleva a cabo en Roma, Italia, una de las capitales de moda en el mundo. “Modelle & Rotelle” ha revolucionado el mundo de la moda ya que es el primer desfile de alta costura a nivel mundial que integra modelos de pie y sentadas (en sillas de ruedas), todas juntas en un solo evento. Tamara fue seleccionada en Diciembre del 2012 como una de las modelos, la primera en representar a E.U., y también fue escogida por los organizadores del evento como la presentadora/conductora de un video que cubrió el evento para ser compartido con todo el mundo, demostrando que la moda es para todos y que la belleza se representa de diferentes maneras.
El deseo de Tamara por romper barreras y cumplir sus sueños la acaba de llevar este año a competir en el certamen de belleza y famoso show de televisión, “Nuestra Belleza Latina” 2013, dejando a los productores y jueces en shock por ser la primera concursante en silla de ruedas en audicionar en toda la historia del show (7 años); más allá de su condición física o historia inigualable, los impactó por su habilidad de demostrar su talento, personalidad y deseo de superación, motivando a todos. Tamara se encuentra actualmente escribiendo su primer libro, y continúa resaltando su talento como oradora pública y conductora. Tamara se mantiene enfocada en trabajar en proyectos con sentido y eventos con mayor propósito.
Tamara Mena es conferencista motivacional, conductora, portavoz, modelo, representante de productos innovadores, sobreviviente y perenne optimista.
Tamara Mena was born and raised in Leon, Guanajuato Mexico. At the age of thirteen, Tamara and her mother moved to the U.S to be closer to her ailing grandfather and in search for better opportunities. From a very early age, education has been very important to Tamara, and it has played an instrumental role throughout her life.
After graduating from high school at the top of her class, Tamara attended Modesto Junior College before relocating to San Diego, CA to achieve her life-long dream of earning a Bachelors degree. San Diego, the city she always wanted to live in for many reasons, was a dream come true for Tamara. Her life was unfolding exactly as she hoped it would and as she planned, working toward her academic goals, working full-time and pursuing her passion for modeling.
On a fateful night in October of 2005, Tamara, her long time boyfriend Patrick, and several friends decided to take a short trip to Rosarito, Mexico for a night of fun. To avoid the dangers of drinking and driving, Tamara and her friends decided to take a taxi that would take them to their destination. Unfortunately, this taxi ride would change Tamara’s life forever. Just a few miles from their final destination, the taxi struck a horse standing in the middle of the road. The impact crushed the roof of the cab, unfortunately, killing Patrick and the taxi driver instantly. Tamara was shielded from the impact by her boyfriend’s protective arms. Her life was spared, but she suffered life-threatening injuries. Doctors told her family Tamara would never walk again. Her spine was crushed and so was her heart by the heartbreaking and devastating news of the death of her boyfriend.
While in the hospital, Tamara suffered from multiple broken bones, collapsed lungs, severed spinal cord and several other injuries. She spent months in the hospital rehabilitating and learning how to adapt to her new life using a wheelchair. Tamara endured a great tragedy and severe physical injuries, but she never lost her high spirit, ambition, and optimism. Tamara decided to not victimize herself, see herself as the true survivor that she was, and live the rest of her life this way, always grateful for surviving that terrible accident. After many long months, Tamara was able to come home and begin adapting to her new life. Despite suffering many setbacks and medical complications during her first two years post injury, Tamara never lost sight of her goal to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree. She always knew she would get there, some way or another, some day.
Tamara was able to return to school and after graduating from Modesto Junior College with honors, Tamara attended California State University Stanislaus, where she majored in a field of study she was passionate about, Communication Studies. She graduated from college with highest honors, Summa Cum Laude. One of Tamara’s greatest honors was to be selected to give the commencement address to a crowd of ten thousand people where she received a standing ovation. When her graduation day could not get any better, she was selected out of the entire graduating class and awarded with the most prestigious award a CSU Stanislaus graduate could ever receive.
Since Tamara graduated college, she has spoken to thousands of people ranging from very young kids and teenagers to business professionals. She has been a keynote speaker and guest speaker at several events. As a speaker, “Test Pilot,” and Ekso Ambassador for Ekso Bionics, Tamara has spoken to thousands of people about this exciting new technology. She spoke about this innovation and personal experience at the “Festival of Brilliant Minds” and conference, City of Ideas 2011, Ciudad de Las Ideas 2011 in Puebla, Mexico. She was also invited by the Mexican government to attend the conference “RETHINKING G20 DESIGNING THE FUTURE” a day prior to the respectable and world-conscious G20 Summit 2012 to share her story, experience in Ekso, and demonstrate how exoskeleton, Ekso, functions, allowing Tamara to stand up and walk. Her love for encouraging all women, has taken her to work with the Soroptimist and be the keynote speaker at events such as “Live Your Dream” to encourage young girls to follow their dreams. She has also worked with one-of-a-kind organizations such as United Way, at events such as “Power of the Purse” to motivate working women to continue to believe in themselves and pursue their goals.
Tamara has been featured as a role model and motivational speaker on the world-renowned Spanish television show, Sábado Gigante, to share her passion for life. She appeared on the famous American television news show, Inside Edition, showing part of her journey to taking real life steps. She was featured on the American TV Show, The Doctors, share her touching journey and was able to walk out on stage in Ekso for the first time and face the crowd standing up. Tamara has been featured as a model and role model on several publications. These range from New Mobility magazine, the largest magazine in the disability community, to being on the cover of IEEE Spectrum Magazine, the largest technology publication in the world, standing in exoskeleton, Ekso. In the spring of 2012, she was featured with Ekso in the worldwide known business magazine, Fast Company. She has modeled for a number of businesses ranging from TiLite Wheelchairs, a titan in the industry to the internationally known fashion designer, Norma Kamali, being one of the first in the US with a disability to model a major fashion designer’s clothing line. For a second time, Tamara was featured on the internationally known Spanish TV show, Sabado Gigante, something that rarely happens for such a high profile show; to once again, share her story, motivate, and this time send a message of hope with her powerful journey walking in Ekso with Ekso Bionics. Her most recent TV appearance on September 7, 2012 was on Spain’s most popular TV show, El Hormiguero. She appeared live to share about the innovative exoskeleton technology, demonstrate Ekso, and spread her motivational message internationally, resulting as a “trending topic” on Twitter from her interview at the famous show, El Hormiguero, viewed all over Latin America.
Tamara is also involved with wheelchair dancing and has competed in a wheelchair latin ballroom competition. She has a passion for hosting and has hosted several events. She co-hosted the Abilities Expo, Los Angeles, a big event for the disability community. She was also invited by the VA and American DanceWheels Foundation to MC and host a grandiose and successful wheelchair dance event on August 2012 at the prestigious Cheryl Burke Dance Studio. She has been fortunate to mix her passion for speaking and hosting with beauty and fashion into one event; in late 2012 she entered the casting for a revolutionizing and international fashion show, “Modelle & Rotelle” in Rome, Italy, one of the world’s fashion capital. “Modelle & Rotelle” integrates standing and sitting models in wheelchairs. Tamara was selected in December 2012 as one of the models, and was also chosen by the organizers of the event as the presenter/host of a video that covered the event to be shared with the world demonstrating that fashion is for all and beauty comes in different ways.
Tamara not only strongly believes in empowering women, but has made numerous efforts in her own life and in several ways to empower women in her local community and worldwide. Some of these efforts include starting and leading the first Young Women’s Spinal Cord Injury Support Group at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and creating and producing the “Embrace YOU Project” video dedicated to encourage all women around the globe. Tamara used her love of modeling for something bigger and meaningful, to empower the disabled community and women at large. Her “Embrace You Project” proclaims a powerful message to all: to not only accept who you are, but to embrace it. The “Embrace You Project” highlights the beauty and worth in the midst of human imperfection and reminds us that “imperfections” do not have to diminish a person. Tamara seeks to expand her project to reach even more women; her work is not yet done but will only continue to expand. Tamara proceeds to work with fashion icon and designer, Norma Kamali, on the journey they embarked on a couple years ago to help women.
Tamara continues to explore and expand her abilities as a communicator, speaker and host. She also persists in looking for modeling opportunities that can show the talents of all models, and looks for opportunities that can specially portray her as a role model for women. She strives to remain multi-dimensional. Her desire to break barriers and make her dreams come true, took her this year to compete in “Nuestra Belleza Latina” 2013, a beauty pageant and huge television show, leaving the producers and judges of the show in shock for being the first contestant in a wheelchair to ever audition in the history of the show (7 years) further than her physical condition or unmatched story, she impacted them for her ability to demonstrate her talent, personality and desire to succeed motivating them all. Tamara remains focused on achieving all of her dreams and goals; but above all, her main desire in life is to help others. Her main desire is for her story and journey to encourage others to see themselves as survivors, fighters, warriors and appreciate life. She will always use her voice, talents, and abilities to motivate people from within and encourage people to not give up, empowering them to achieve and succeed.