Letters to our younger selves: Joy Gueverra and Heslandia Tavares

Joy Gueverra and Heslandia Tavares for Black History Month
Joy Gueverra and Heslandia Tavares celebrate Black and African American achievement throughout the year. (Image: Michael Goderre, Boston Childrens/Design: David Chrisom, Boston Children's)

Black History Month celebrates the achievements of African Americans in U. S. history. Established in February 1926, the event recognizes those who have inspired positive change through advocacy, community building, and professional success.

In honor of Black History Month and this year’s theme of Black health and wellness, we are featuring a few of the individuals who are making a difference — both at Boston Children’s and in their communities. We hope their stories will inspire future generations of health care leaders. 

Joy Gueverra and Heslandia Tavares are co-chairs of Boston Children’s Black/African American & Allies Employee Resource Group.

The Black/African American & Allies Employee Resource Group is an employee-run group that builds community and provides support for career growth and professional development for Boston Children’s employees. Through a variety of events, the group showcases the ever-expanding variety of cultures in the Black and African American communities at Boston Children’s.

Below, Joy and Heslandia share what they would say to their younger selves. This is part three of a three-part series.

You’ll be amazed by how much you can do when you push yourself

Joy Gueverra, Program Administration Manger, Benderson Family Heart Center

Joy Gueverra’s parents were her role models as she was growing up. Her mother worked in health care, her father in higher education. Joy found a way to follow in both of their footsteps. Today, she coordinates the many educational programs for medical students and other trainees through Boston Children’s Benderson Family Heart Center.

For Joy, “Black History Month is a continuous, living, breathing celebration that honors the history of where people of color came from and admires excellence in the present,” she says.

Dear Younger Self:

The younger self Joy Gueverra wrote a letter to for Black History Month.
Joy in elementary school

The sense of true self-worth your parents have instilled in you will help guide you as you strive for success and help others find that same self-worth. When people try to bring you down, the tools your parents gave you will help you remain proud of who you are as a person of color.

It will take you a while for you to understand how much your parents struggled when your family arrived in the U.S. from the Caribbean. Someday you’ll appreciate how they went out of their way to help others. Like them, you will help others succeed and grow. You’ll realize that mentoring others gives you a chance to reevaluate your own decisions and assumptions.

You won’t always know where your career is headed. That’s OK. Paths open for different reasons, and sometimes you just have to roll it. You’ll be amazed by how much you can do when you push yourself.

You’ll work hard and have many successes. One day you’ll look back and wish you’d taken more chances. Get comfortable with the fact that you won’t succeed 100 percent of the time. Go ahead and apply for the job, ask for the promotion, and don’t brush off people’s compliments: you deserve them.


Keep your heart and mind open

Heslandia Tavares, Patient Services Administrator III, Medical/Surgical ICU

Heslandia “Hes” Tavares often walked past Boston Children’s Hospital when she was student at nearby Boston Latin School and envisioned a career as a speech language pathologist. Soon after college, a part-time job at Boston Children’s gave her a taste of the business side of health care. This inspired her to earn a Master’s in Business Administration and changed the course of her career.

Today, eighteen years after that first position, Heslandia oversees administrative operations in Boston Children’s busy Medical Surgical Intensive Care Unit, managing a team of a team of more than 25 employees.

Dear Younger Self:

The younger self Heslandia Tavares wrote a letter to for Black History Month. Wearing a cap and gown.
Heslandia at her college graduation

People will tell you if you do your best, you’ll succeed. It’s more complicated than that. You’ll need confidence, good mentors, and the ability to advocate for yourself. This will come with time. You’ll have great leaders who will help you recognize where you need to improve and your potential to excel. Be authentic, kind, and inclusive. Be ambitious and don’t allow others to define who you should be.

You will be motivated and inspired by Boston Children’s mission and your passion to coach and mentor your employees. Seeing them grow in their careers will inspire and strengthen you. Self-development and emotional intelligence will be key to your relationships at work. Over time, you’ll become involved in projects that innovate and make a difference in people’s lives. Through your leadership in the Black/African American & Allies Employee Resource Group, you’ll help promote a respectful, inclusive culture at Boston Children’s.

Keep your heart and mind open to new people and experiences. Take time to travel, spend time with your family and enjoy life. You will work hard, but will also enjoy moments of laughter, fun and self-reflection.


Learn more about initiatives in health equity, diversity, and inclusion at Boston Children’s.

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