By Rhashad R. Pittman
She’s a professional photographer, Business owner, Single mother, Community volunteer and now, Monica Andeola is a Susan B. Anthony Award winner, making her one of only a handful of Latina recipients of the most prestigious award given to women in the Stockton region.
Ms. Andeola represents everything the Susan B. Anthony Women of Achievement Awards was intended for. Owner of Tex Mex Photography and a Latino Times photographer, Monica is a woman who has excelled at her craft, thrived in her career, all the while remaining committed to the community. Because of this, Andeola will receive the annual honor, handed out by the San Joaquin County Commission on the Status of Women. The 43rd annual banquet will be held on February 15th at the Stockton Golf and Country Club.
The Susan B. Anthony Award is given annually to a dozen women who either live or work in San Joaquin County and have made tremendous volunteer efforts to their community while often excelling in their professions. Throughout the 23 years of building her photography business, Monica has committed endless hours of volunteer time to making San Joaquin County a better place to live. Monica was nominated by former NASA Astronaut Jose Hernandez’s Reaching for the Stars Foundation, which she is a member of. The foundation promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Ms. Andeola is also an active member and Vice President of Comerciantes Unidos, a local group of small business owners who conduct fundraising to provide scholarships for underserved students. Her ultimate goal is to be an “advocate for the Latino student” she said. “Being active in the community is a way to make positive change.”
“It takes a lot of sacrifice”
Throughout the years she has captured images of events by the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Mexican American Hall of Fame and the Mexican American “Sports” Hall of Fame, El Concilio – The Council for the Spanish Speaking, as well R&B/Hip-Hop concerts, and appearances by former Mexico President Vicente Fox, Astronaut Jose Hernandez, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Most of events she works photographing are family-oriented gatherings such as weddings and quinceañeras, often covering multiple events for the same family.
Although she has established a loyal customer base over the years, it has not been easy for the single mother. She works every day of the week at her business and has sacrificed time away from home with her teenage son, who one day dreams of going to college and becoming a computer engineer. Monica works hard in part to save money to pay for her son’s college education. “It’s hard to have a business and to raise a child,” she said. “It takes a lot of sacrifice. But hopefully one day he will understand why.”
“Pursue your dream”
Born in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico, Monica came to California as a foreign exchange student who barely spoke English. After taking English as a Second Language classes at the Manteca Adult School, Monica went on to study photography at San Joaquin Delta College. She eventually got a job working at One Stop Photo Lab and then later at Ulmer’s Photo Lab.
After a few years of working, Monica partnered with Carol Morales to form their own business and established Tex Mex Photography. A couple of years later, Monica became the sole owner of the business. At the time, she was one of only a few Spanish-speaking photographers in town.
Shortly after setting up shop at the El Dorado Flea market in Stockton, she quickly earned a reputation for being a friendly photographer who through her work not only brought out the beauty in her customers but the happiness as well. “If your customers are happy, they will come back, “She said. “And they will recommend you to their friends.”
Fifteen years after opening the El Dorado Flea market location, Monica was able to establish a second location in 2010 at 1221 N. Center Street in Stockton. Today Tex Mex is quite possibly the only Latina-owned, storefront photo studio in town. Over the years, Monica has mentored younger photographers and through her volunteer work aims to inspire youth to aspire for more.
“Pursue your dream,” she said. “And whatever you want to do, do it with all your heart and you can be successful.”
Visit Tex Mex Photography at www.texmexphotos.com or contact Monica at (209) 406-3520 or firstname.lastname@example.org