J. Burton Vasche Award news story on univisionNOW.com


Tamara Mena


-California State University, Stanislaus- Turlock, CA.

Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies December 2010
Graduated with Highest Honors, Summa Cum Laude : 

Upright Citizens Brigade, Training Center (UCB) Fall 2017-present.

Killian’s Workshop.



Commencement Speaker 2011 – First person in a wheelchair to win the Commencement Speaker title and deliver a commencement speech in front of ten thousand people.

Communication Studies Achievement Award 2011  – Selected as the recipient for this award out of all COMM major graduates in 2011.

CSU Stanislaus, J. Burton Vasche Award 2011 -Awarded with the J. Burton Vasche Award, named after the university’s founder and the most prestigious award a CSU Stanislaus graduate could ever receive.

Lambda Pi Eta (Communication Studies Honor Society) 2009

Phi Kappa Phi (Oldest National All-discipline Honor Society) 2010

Dean’s Achievement Award 2007-2011

Nominated for “Best Actor” in the 2018  “Easterseals Disability Film Challenge”



Motivational Speaking:

-Keynote and Guest Speaker at numerous schools, ample experience with people of all ages, and small to large audiences.

-Worked with organizations such as, Soroptimist International, United way, Stanislaus Women’s Leadership Council, Sierra Vista and others.

-Spoke to thousands of people as an Ekso Ambassador for Ekso Bionics about their innovative exoskeleton technology at all types of events, prestigious private and public events, all size audiences; demonstrated device to hospitals, private investors, political leaders, and the masses.

– Spoken at different events as an ambassador for Wings For Life World Run, bringing awareness about spinal cord injuries, but always sharing a motivating and uplifting message of hope, survival, fight and love for life.


Company Representation:

-Ekso Bionics, Ambassador and Model: Still photos, all types of appearances, and commercial video.

-TiLite, Product Representative and Model: Still photos, print ad, and online commercial.

– Red Bull, Ambassador for their global run Wings For Life World Run, featured in many different TV interviews and articles, English and Spanish.

– Ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger.

– Contributor for Cur8able, as a beauty and style cur8tor.


Some special Events and Conferences:

-“XPrize” 2011

-“City of Ideas 2011, Festival of Brilliant Minds,” Ciudad de Las Ideas in Puebla, Mexico.

-“Rethinking G20 Designing The Future,” in Los Cabos, Mexico (invited personally by the Mexican government) conference was held a day prior to the respectable G20 Summit 2012.

– “Gifted Citizen Award 2012 in Puebla, Mexico: Selected by Ciudad de las Ideas, “International Festival of Brilliant Minds,” to be part of this unique group, “Gifted Citizen” comprised of individuals from all over the world “thinkers and doers” chosen because “they’re making an impact on this world.”

– “Creative Inspirational Forum” One of fifteen top speakers worldwide gathered in Mexico city to creatively inspire people of all ages. March 2015.

– “Fashion Week LA” invited as a speaker and panelist, March 2016.

– “Positive People” Keynote Speaker, highlighted as one of Modesto’s most influential and positive person March 2017.


Television, featured as a role model, speaker and or Ambassador:

Sabado Gigante, world-renowned and longest- running Spanish TV show, August 2011.

Inside Edition, famous American television news show, November 2011.

The Doctors, Well known American TV Show, May 2012.

Sabado Gigante, featured a second time on a major TV show, July 2012.

El Hormiguero, Spain’s most popular TV show. It airs in most Spanish-speaking countries. September 2012.  Resulted as a “trending topic” on Twitter.

The Blue Peter Show longest running show in England, 2012.

Nuestra Belleza Latina, made history on Spanish TV by being the first model in a wheelchair to enter this pageant and competition. March 2012.

Aqui Y Ahora, One of Univision’s best in depth news show, interviewed after impacting participation in Nuestra Belleza Latina, 2013.

American Latino, May 2014. Featured as one of the most inspirational Latinos

Mundo Fox, April 2015, To share my story and representing Red Bull’s run as an ambassador for them.

-Azteca TV, April 2015 To share my story and representing Red Bull’s run as an ambassador for them.

En La Zona, April 2015, as an ambassador for Redbull and Wings For Life World Run.

Que Noche, December 2015, Guest star to share my story. And I was surprised by my fiancé proposing to me on stage.

– Univision News, featured as “Latinas de Exito” April, 2017

-KTLA 5 News interview, nominated as “Best Actor” for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.


Publications and Magazines Featured as a model and role model in:

-TiLite Wheelchairs ad modeling a titanium wheelchair. Print Ad ran for an entire year, 2011-2012, in several publications, including but not limited to New Mobility magazine, the largest magazine in the disability community.

-Cover of IEEE Spectrum magazine, the largest technology publication in the world, standing in exoskeleton, Ekso, in January 2012.

-Featured with Ekso in Fast Company magazine, internationally known business magazine in April 2012.

– Featured multiple times in Note from Norma by fashion designer, Norma Kamali, as a role model for women. Modeled several pieces of her collections, being one of the first persons in the U.S. with a disability to model for a major fashion designer.

– On the cover of Hispanic Health and Beauty Magazine, August 2013.

On the cover of Vision Magazine, July 2013.

Article for Huffington Post Voces after making history on TV.

– Featured on LATINA as one of the most “inspiring women” March 2014

– Featured again by LATINA magazine for being the first Latina to model at NYFW., March 2015.

– Huffington Post, in depth in depth, April 2015.

– Huffington Post Voces, August 15.

– Featured and awarded on Cosmo For Latinas magazine, October 2015.

-Recognized and featured on well know Mexican publication “Estilo DF” as a role model for women on Women’s International Day.

ALEGRIA magazine, featured as one of the “most inspirational Latinos of 2017.”



– UCB Diversity scholarship recipient

-Lead role for a Kay Jeweler’s Valentine’s TV commercial- February 2018.

-Lead Actor, producer and co-writer of “Rivals or Friends” Short film. April 2018

-Nominated for “Best Actor” in the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge as a first time participant. The only female nominated in the category. Nominated amongst 60 films from 12 different countries around the world. May 2018

-Lead actor for “Fail Team” comedy webseries. Present.

-Acting and IMPROV training from UCB, Killian’s Commercial Workshop and Jackie Garcia, acting coach.



-Co-hosted Abilities Expo, Los Angeles, April 2012, a major 3-day event for the disability community.

-Master of Ceremonies for the “So You Think You Can’t Dance” Competition at the Cheryl Burke Dance Studio, in August 2012.

– Hosted and presented a special with behind the scenes interviews and coverage in Rome, Italy for fashion show “Modelle Rotelle” December 2012.

-Hosted and co-produced my own beauty and fashion show, “Beauty on Wheels” on LATV.

-Hosted and presented a one hour TV special featuring 7 different in depth interviews with adaptive athletes, for American Latino TV show, on LATV network.

-Executive Producer and host of See Beyond TV- a 10 inspiring, unique and disability inclusive episodes.



-Modelle & Rotelle International Fashion Show in Rome, Italy: Selected as one of the 25 models in wheelchairs, as well as a presenter and online video host.

– New York Fashion Week, one of the first models in wheelchairs to model at Mercedes Benz Fashion week, February 2015.

– One of 20 chosen models for “Raw Beauty Project LA” on March 2016, photo exhibit will be displayed on September 17th, 2016.

-Artisan Made fashion show- The only runway model in a wheelchair September 2016.

-See Beyond the Label fashion show-runway model March 2017

– -runway model. April 2018

– Model for Ipsy and their body positive campaign “Ipsy Unzipped” representing the only model with a disability. February 2018


Work to Empower Women:

-Spoken at several events to specifically motivate young girls to pursue their dreams.

-Keynote Speaker for United Way’s “Power of the Purse” Annual event focused on empowering working and businesswomen.

-Started the first Young Women’s Spinal Cord Injury Support Group at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

-Created the “Embrace YOU Project” video dedicated to encourage all women around the globe to embrace themselves.

-Worked with fashion designer, Norma Kamali, to encourage all women.

– Keynote Speaker for Sierra Vista to empower women.



-Experience working in front of the cameras; comfortable, spontaneous and natural on TV as an actress, speaker, tv presenter or host.

-Great Experience modeling, in and out of the wheelchair, photogenic and comfortable in front of the camera, for print and commercial, including runway modeling experience.

-Bilingual, fluent in English and Spanish.



Young Women’s Peer Support Founder and Leader, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center 2012-Present

Volunteer Peer Support Mentor, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center October 2007-Present

Lambda Pi Eta President 2010

Communication Studies Outreach Program Leader 2010

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