Fashion management graduate finds new… – Lynn University
Defying the odds
Cayetana Uranga ’12 has accomplished everything people told her she couldn’t. Throughout her 37 years, she learned English, graduated from Lynn University with a bachelor’s degree in fashion management, successfully opened a store and manages to live on her own. Uranga continues to defy the odds and refuses to let a birth condition stop her from achieving her dreams.
Uranga was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP), an unpredictable result of her umbilical cord wrapping around her neck and cutting off oxygen to her brain.
“When I was nine, we moved from Peru to the United States and doctors told my mom I’d never be able to learn another language,” said Uranga. “But I was always a very determined kid and three years later, I was speaking English with all my school friends. My mother never treated me any differently than my sisters. I grew up with the attitude of ‘yes, I can.'”
Several years—and two languages—later, Uranga worked her way to high school honors classes, graduated, earned scholarships, and received an Associate of Arts at Palm Beach Community College.
Trials and tribulations
Her sights were then set on her lifelong dream to become a fashion merchandiser. Filled with determination and excitement, Uranga applied to a fashion program at an institute she had long admired—only to face disappointment and adversity once again.
“While I was finishing up the application, the institute’s administration staff called me in for a meeting and suggested I change my career path because of my condition,” Uranga recalled. “They were concerned I wouldn’t be able to pass the sewing course. I left that meeting in tears and withdrew my application—but I wasn’t giving up on my goal. That’s when I applied to Lynn.”
The Lynn years
Uranga was accepted to Lynn’s fashion management program and offered a scholarship. At Lynn, she gained career experience and made lifelong friends.
“I enjoyed every minute of it, participating in Lynn’s fashion show, learning about the history of fashion and runway trends, and so much more,” she said. “The classes were challenging, and my teachers didn’t treat me any differently. I learned so much.”
Fashion and retail Professor Lisa Benedict recalls teaching Uranga and helping her work fashion show events. “While I did challenge her, she had to challenge herself. As a professor, you encourage all your students to excel and be their absolute best,” she said.
Uranga secured a public relations internship with Bloomingdale’s and worked major events throughout South Florida, including Miami Fashion Week and a charity fashion show at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. The experience would pay off and come full circle post-graduation when Uranga opened her own bikini shop, Lolita’s Beachwear, and showcased the brand at Miami Swim Week.
“My classes prepared me for a career in fashion and my overall experience at Lynn was really encouraging,” said Uranga. “Lynn is a very diverse university. I always felt safe and respected, and I still keep in touch with many of the people I met there. I have overcome many obstacles in my life and getting my bachelor’s degree at Lynn was one of my greatest accomplishments.”
Lolita’s Beachwear was open for several years before Uranga embarked on a new journey in Washington, D.C. During this time, Uranga’s sister encouraged her to reinvent herself in novel ways that would challenge her and benefit her in the long run.
“I used to hide my condition on social media,” said Uranga. “Now, I realize sharing my experience not only benefits me, but others like me.”
A new advocate
After venturing out on her own and garnering new and interesting experiences, she returned home to Palm Beach, Florida. Today, Uranga is proud to be a professional social media manager and a disability advocate. She shares her journey and day-to-day life on Instagram and TikTok under the username @JustCPNotSpecial—a handle inspired by the notion that, while she’s different, there’s no need for special treatment.
“Having CP has never stopped me from going after what I want,” said Uranga. “It has made the journey and ‘how to’ a little longer, and maybe more challenging—but I’ve always been determined. Now, with my social media accounts, I get messages from followers saying I motivate and inspire them. It’s truly rewarding.”
In her social media videos, she celebrates her life and the activities she loves, including Pilates and bike rides. Uranga also brings awareness to CP by sharing what it’s like for her to accomplish everyday tasks—in some of her videos she adjusts clothing to fit her condition. For example, buttons are a challenge, so she turns them into clips. Uranga hopes future fashion designers keep individuals with disorders in mind when designing clothing.
Uranga’s advice to anyone with a dream? “Trust your gut and follow your heart. You may need to put in a lot of work to achieve your goals, but it’s always worth it.”
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