-Tamara Mena is a motivational speaker, host, spokesperson, ambassador, 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. Despite the great tragedy she endured, Tamara 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 goals and 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’s ability to communicate has impacted thousands of people when they hear her speak under many different platforms. She was selected as the commencement speaker, gave an address, and received a standing ovation by 10,000 people, her largest audience. She is the first graduate in a wheelchair to give a commencement speech and receive the most prestigious recognition award at CSU Stanislaus. Tamara has been invited as a keynote speaker at many schools, numerous events and highly prestigious conferences such as the G-20 Summit, Ciudad de las Ideas among others. Tamara represents several powerful organizations, amongst those Ekso Bionics and Red Bull’s Wings for Life Foundation. As an Ekso Bionics Ambassador, she has proudly walked with their exoskeleton on many different platforms all over the world. As an Ambassador for Wings for Life World Run, she has raised her voice, one that she lost for two months and profoundly appreciates, to spread the message around the world in English and Spanish about this powerful cause to “run for those who can’t” and raise funds for spinal cord research with this impacting run.
Tamara has been featured on numerous TV shows, English and Spanish-speaking, locally, nationally and internationally, some of those are Inside Edition, The Doctors, Aquí y Ahora, Sábado Gigante, the longest running TV show in Spanish and renowned worldwide, with an unbelievable record, as she’s been invited 3 times, and the ultra famous, Nuestra Belleza Latina. She has reached people overseas as well in TV appearances such as El Hormiguero, most popular show in Spain and Latin America, and the famous long running children’s show, The Blue Peter Show in England, impacting millions of people all over the world of all ages with her desire to live and 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 recognized worldwide 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 has modeled in fashion runways nationally and internationally. Tamara was the first model to represent the U.S. and first Latina at the revolutionizing and international high fashion show, Modelle & Rotelle in Rome, Italy. Tamara has wide experience using her talent as a communicator in several ways; she has been a master of ceremonies, presenter and host, at several events, included Abilities Expo and the international fashion show,
Modelle & Rotelle.
Tamara’s desire to break barriers and make her dreams come true, took her to compete and make it on Nuestra Belleza Latina 2013, a beauty pageant and famous television show. Tamara shocked the producers and judges, as she is the first contestant in a wheelchair to ever audition in the history of the show. Tamara impacted the judges for her ability and talent on stage, beauty, personality and desire to succeed, above all, motivating millions of viewers. Everything Tamara performs is with passion and determination, hoping to always leave a mark. Tamara is currently writing her first book that promises to reach and motivate many people. She continues to highlight her talent as a public speaker and host under many different platforms. Tamara demonstrates everything is possible. Tamara focuses on working on meaningful projects and events with a greater purpose. Her motivation will always be to motivate and empower others.
-Tamara Mena es conferencista motivacional, conductora, portavoz, embajadora, modelo, representante de productos innovadores, sobreviviente y perenne optimista. 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. Lo más vital después de su accidente fue que decidió verse como sobreviviente, no como una víctima, y de tal manera decidió vivir su vida, como guerrera siempre luchando por sus metas e ideales.
Con un impulso renovado, Tamara retomó sus estudios, asistió a la Universidad Estatal de California de Stanislaus, obtuvo su licenciatura en Comunicación y una concentración en relaciones publicas y se graduó con los honores más altos (Summa Cum Laude) en adición de numerosos premios por sus logros académicos. La habilidad de Tamara para comunicarse ha impactado miles de personas cuando la escuchan hablar bajo muchas plataformas diferentes. Fue seleccionada como la oradora principal, tuvo el honor de presentar un discurso, y recibió una ovación ante 10,000 personas, su audiencia más grande. Tamara es la primera persona en silla de ruedas en ser seleccionada como oradora principal y en recibir el premio más prestigioso en CSUS. Tamara ha sido invitada como oradora principal a muchas escuelas y universidades, numerosos eventos y conferencias de alto prestigio, entre ellas el G20, Ciudad de las Ideas y otras. Tamara representa a varias organizaciones poderosas, entre ellas Ekso Bionics y la fundación Wings for Life de Red Bull. Como Embajadora de Ekso Bionics ha tenido la fortuna de caminar orgullosamente con el exoesqueleto en muchos escenarios diferentes alrededor del mundo Como embajadora de la carrera mundial de Wings for Life, ha alzado su voz, la que perdió por dos meses y que aprecia profundamente, para compartir el mensaje alrededor de todo el mundo en Ingles y en español acerca de esta causa poderosa de “correr por los que no pueden” y recaudar fondos para la investigación de la medula espinal con esta carrera mundial impactante.
Tamara ha sido destacada en varios programas de televisión, en inglés y en español, incluyendo Inside Edition, The Doctors, Aquí y Ahora, Sábado Gigante, programa en español con más tiempo en el aire y reconocido mundialmente, con un record increíble ya que ha sido invitada tres veces al programa. Tamara también ha impactado a personas en otros continentes en programas internacionales, tales como The Blue Peter Show, programa infantil muy conocido de Inglaterra y El Hormiguero, el programa de televisión más popular en España y América Latina, impactando a millones de personas de todas edades al rededor del mundo por su gran deseo de vivir y espíritu de superación. También ha sido entrevistada por muchas publicaciones, periódicos y revistas, incluyendo la muy reconocida revista de negocios Fast Company, IEEE Spectrum, la revista tecnológica más grande e importante, The Huffington Post, reconocido a nivel mundial, entre otros. También ha sido destacada en la portada de varias revistas, su más reciente portada en Hispanic Health & Beauty Magazine.
Tamara ha modelado para una serie de empresas, desde TiLite Wheelchairs, un titán de la industria, Ekso Bionics, líder tecnológico e innovador, hasta diseñadores de moda y de renombre como, Nino Lettieri y Norma Kamali. Como modelo, tiene experiencia trabajando en frente de las cámaras, sesiones fotográficas, comerciales, demostración de productos, hasta modelaje en pasarela. Tamara ha modelado en pasarelas de modas a nivel nacional e internacional; Tamara fue la primer modelo en representar a E.U. y la primera latina en la pasarela internacional que ha revolucionado el mundo de la moda, Modelle & Rotelle, primer desfile que integra modelos de pie y en silla de ruedas, en Roma, Italia. Tamara tiene amplia experiencia utilizando su talento como comunicadora de diferentes maneras; ha sido maestra de ceremonias, presentadora y conductora, en varios eventos, incluyendo Abilities Expo y el show de modas internacional, Modelle & Rotelle.
El deseo de Tamara de romper barreras y cumplir sus sueños, la llevaron a competir y llegar al certamen de belleza y famoso show de televisión, Nuestra Belleza Latina 2013. Tamara dejó a los productores y jueces en shock, ya que es la primera concursante en silla de ruedas en audicionar en toda la historia del show. Más allá de su condición física o historia, Tamara impactó a los jueces por su habilidad de comunicarse, talento en el escenario, belleza, personalidad y deseo de superación, sobre todo, motivando a millones de espectadores. Todo lo que Tamara hace lo hace con pasión y determinación, esperando siempre dejar una huella. Tamara se encuentra actualmente escribiendo su primer libro que promete llegar y motivar a muchas personas. Continúa resaltando su talento como oradora pública y conductora en diferentes plataformas. Tamara demuestra que todo es posible. Tamara se enfoca en trabajar en proyectos con sentido y eventos con propósito mayor. Su motivación siempre
será motivar y empoderar a otros.
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.