Living a Life with No Limitations

Learn more about Ioanna Papas.
Ioanna Papas
Director, Communications
George W. Bush Institute

Zunita Cummins is one of 50 individuals who will be naturalized at the George W. Bush Presidential Center on March 18.

Why did you come to the United States for higher education schooling?

I needed to learn English.  In my country, Panama, if you fluently speak English you get higher paying jobs in the tourist industry. The transition was easy and beneficial as some of my family was already in America. So I applied for a tourist visa and when I got to Dallas I completed four English as a second language (ESL) classes at Richland College.

I then got married and started the process of getting my resident status. When I received my residency visa, I became a nanny and worked for many wonderful families who also encouraged me. One of my employers helped me go back to school and I became a preschool teacher. Because of the help I received along the way, I remained in the United States and became a citizen.

Tell us about the company you founded, Dallas Baby Whisperer.

While being a nanny I would often take care of newborns. Because of this experience, I decided to take courses in newborn sleep training. My husband gave me the idea that I should open my own company, and we started the process of researching what it would take to accomplish this task. It was the years I spent as a nanny and caring for children that gave me the courage to open Dallas Baby Whisperer.  It was a natural course of action given what I was already doing.

This was a great accomplishment given my humble roots. We are just starting out and looking forward to growing the company and adding employees. It is very exciting to be able to say that I am an American citizen and I own my own company. This is the ultimate American dream for anyone that moves to the United States. I feel very blessed. 

What does it mean to become an American citizen?

It means that I will have the opportunity to grow and become who I am capable of without limitations. America is a country that rewards those who work hard. It does not hold people back if you are willing to overcome obstacles. It also means that our daughters are able to have a bright future as well, and will be able to do whatever they choose to when they grow up.