Rita Materna Hubbard

Face adversity and move on.
Your kids watch how you handle life.

Rita Hubbard

Rita Materna Hubbard was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, in 1949. Her family moved to Washington, D.C., in 1953. Her father was a U.S Army officer, and her mother was a German citizen. Their new neighbors didn’t like Rita and her mother because they were Germans. Rita loved her parents, but they were racists. Rita has always had African American and Jewish friends. She is appalled by the hatred of the past and today.

Rita married her husband in 1970. They had four children and divorced in 1989. She and her children moved to Frederick, and everyone worked to pay the bills. They now appreciate giving back to their community in Charles Town, West Virginia.

Memory Treasures

Rita's birth certificate and family photos

Rita Hubbard’s emigration from Germany today is very different from the experiences German immigrants had when arriving in Frederick in the 1750s. The early German settlers had no birth certificates and there was very little organization.  Rita’s birth certificate is from Germany, and indicates her birth in Germany on 12 November, 1949.

These photographs were taken around 1953. (Click for a larger view) This street scene was from Wiesbaden, Germany, Rita’s birthplace. These pictures of Rita with her mother and father (a US Army Soldier) were taken in Washington, D.C. when they first moved in 1953.

The Certificate of Naturalization proves that Rita obtained U.S. citizenship through naturalization in 2017. It indicates that she was not born in the U.S. and voluntarily became a U.S. citizen. The process requires an application, an interview, an English language test, and a civics test.

Paola Bonarriva

You have to work hard. Nothing is easy.  Nothing is impossible. Frederick is my home.

Paola Bonarriva

Paola Bonarriva moved to the U.S. from Lima, Perú, in 2001 to pursue a better future. She has no regrets. Finding decent work was difficult, because she was alone and did not speak the language. She began taking English classes, and her boyfriend from Lima joined her. The experience made her strong. They married and have three sons.

While living in Gaithersburg, they obtained Green Cards and decided to buy a house. They researched the best schools and picked Frederick. They are now U.S citizens. This country has given them many opportunities to grow as adults, professionals, and parents. Paola finds Frederick to be very inclusive and diverse. She became a real estate agent due to the positive experience she received in moving here.

Claudia Hernandez

Many immigrants feel shame and fear from their experiences.
I was given many opportunities that others were not.

Claudia Hernandez

Claudia Hernandez was born in Washington, D.C. in 1987. Her parents and grandparents left El Salvador to escape civil unrest. Her parents moved to Thurmont in 2003. She was seen as an outcast in school. She graduated from Thomas Johnson High School and had her son David a week later. With her mother’s help, she enrolled in Frederick Community College.

She graduated from the Universities at Shady Grove with a B.A. in Psychology in 2010 and later earned a master’s degree. Claudia married David’s father and had another son. They now live in Frederick, where she is the Coordinator of Family Engagement and Partnerships with Frederick County Public Schools and is a licensed therapist in a private practice.

Elizabeth Chung

Freedom is not free — it’s very precious. Frederick has a lot of history. Our history, Frederick’s history, is strong, and we need to respect it as well as our own cultural history. How do we bring that together? First and foremost with humanity. I hope that Fredricktonians will appreciate the history of the past and celebrate the commonalities and the differences.

Elizabeth Chung, Executive Director Asian American Center
Elizabeth Chung

Elizabeth Chung was born in 1950 in Hong Kong, now part of China. Her father believed that education was very important. Her brother attended school in London, and Elizabeth attended the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. She and her brother were the first siblings to leave home. The experience induced fear and anxiety, but they were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy.

Elizabeth wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who were doctors who practiced traditional Chinese medicine. The University of Hawaii taught only Western medicine, so Elizabeth studied public health. She gained additional education at Penn State University, where she met her husband, also from China. Elizabeth now serves as Executive Director of the Asian American Center and chairs the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

Jose Perez

In some ways, my body is in Frederick, but my mind is in El Salvador.
I would like to go back someday, but that is not a reality.

Jose Perez

Jose Perez grew up in El Salvador with 12 children. They had no running water or electricity. His father visited the U.S. many times and encouraged him to move there. Jose wanted to be a farmer in El Salvador. With the civil unrest, living in America was the safest choice, and he wanted to help his family. In 1980, at age 18, Jose moved to Washington, D.C. He worked as a dishwasher and learned all aspects of restaurant management.

In 1991, Jose and two friends bought the El Mariachi Restaurant in Rockville. They now own restaurants in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Florida. Jose has owned and managed the Mexicali Cantina in Frederick for nearly 20 years. He opened Cacique in 2004.

Maria D. Herrera

Always hold on to your faith, take one step at a time, and be proud of who you are, where you came from, and be a good citizen. Your heritage does not change.

Maria Herrera, Executive Director, Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland
Maria Herrera

Maria Herrera was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1959. Her father was imprisoned under Castro and released. Her parents petitioned to migrate to the U.S. since they were outcasts. Maria came to the U.S. as a refugee with three changes of clothing. She sold tamales to neighbors to help the family survive.

Her father started the Spanish Speaking Community of Maryland nearly 50 years ago. The nonprofit organization provides resources and guidance to immigrants, and partners with other organizations. Today, Maria is Executive Director. Maria says that Frederick is amazing. People give their hearts and souls to help others.

Maria-Teresa Shuck

Many Americans think we’re all Mexicans. Nicaragua is a melting pot with people of Asian, African and European descent. Our mission at Centro Hispano is to educate and support immigrants of all ethnicities
and faiths.

Maria Struck

Maria-Teresa Shuck was born in Washington, D.C., in 1959. Her father was Italian, and her mother is Nicaraguan. They returned to Nicaragua in 1967. Both parents worked for American companies. Her school friends had different nationalities, faiths and social status. It was a good life, but there was poverty, earthquakes, and civil war.

At age 18, she and her sister, age 10, boarded one of the last flights to the U.S. out of Managua. Maria speaks fluent English and could always find excellent employment. She and her husband have three sons and have lived in Frederick County for 30 years. Maria co-founded Centro Hispano in 2006 and is the Executive Director now.

Memory Treasures

When Maria-Teresa Shuck fled Nicaragua at age 18, she was only allowed to pack three sets of clothing. She brought currency from the Central Bank of Nicaragua, this silver necklace with her nickname “Tete”, and her photo album of family and friends.

Maria-Teresa Shuck Photo Album Detail

Vanda Yamkovenko

I love Frederick. Everything is much easier here. 

Vanda Yamkovenko

Vanda Yamkovenko was born in Siberia in 1956 and is Ukrainian. Her father was sent to Siberia, then part of the Soviet Union. Her mother, who was pregnant with Vanda, followed him. Vanda lived with her grandmother’s sister, who had been deported to Siberia when Stalin was in power.

From 1998 to 2005, Vanda made many job-related trips to the U.S. In 2017, she and her husband settled in Frederick to house-sit for her son, who left local employment to work for Facebook in California. While she had often visited the U.S. and is fluent in English, this transition was challenging.

Vanda is grateful that her son prepared a book of instructions to help her buy a phone, receive health care and find work. Her husband is an artist and exhibits at the Delaplaine Arts Center. Vanda is employed by the Asian American Center.

Zakir Bengali

We were perhaps the first Indian family to settle here. We have witnessed many changes. People from many nations have settled in this welcoming community, giving it an international cultural flavor.

Zakir Bengali

Zakir Bengali was born in Mumbai, India, in 1939. He obtained a Master’s of Science degree in microbiology from the University of Mumbai in 1968. Zakir earned a Ph.D. in biology at the University of Rochester in 1973. He met Kathleen there, and they were married in 1972. 

In 1974, they settled in Frederick County, where Zakir joined the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick. In 1981, he transferred to the Extramural Program of National Institutes of Health. He retired from NIH in 2006 and joined the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children in Tampa, Florida, as Vice President for Research.  In 2009, he retired again and returned to Frederick.

Since 1978, Zakir has been an advocate for education in Frederick County. In 1992, he chaired the Middle School Science Teaching Committee of the Board of Education, and later represented Maryland on the National Science Teaching Standards panel.  He served on the Frederick County Board of Education from 2012-2016.

Elisa Desormaux

When I took my citizenship oath, I did not cry.
A lot of people were escaping from a dictatorship or other pressures,
but I had a wonderful childhood.

Elisa Desormaux

Elisa Garza is from Chihuahua, Mexico. In 1967, she earned her nursing degree and went to work in an Illinois hospital, where she met her husband. After her contract ended, she returned home, and they were married. They moved to Michigan and eventually settled in Walkersville.

Their neighbors welcomed them immediately, and their children enjoyed school. Elisa worked as a nurse until retiring. She now serves as a Frederick Memorial Hospital medical interpreter, a job she loves. With their children now grown, Elisa understands the pain her family experienced when she left Mexico. The couple eventually will join family members in Texas.

Memory Treasure

Eliza Garza Blanket

When Elisa Garza left Mexico to work in the U.S., she brought this crocheted coverlet that her grandmother made to remind her of home.