TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Grace Maseda Sainz is a first generation Cuban-American who’s made such an impact on the Tampa Bay area, she has been named the 2022 Hispanic Woman of the Year.

Maseda Sainz was born and raised in Tampa, but her family is from Cuba.

“They were so passionate about the United States, they knew this country would afford them and their new family opportunities they could not foresee in Cuba,” Maseda Sainz said.

Maseda Sainz’s parents came to the United States in 1966 with a newborn baby. Her mom started working as a sewing machine operator and her dad transported cars in Tampa.

“While he didn’t have a formal education, his ability to sustain his family depended on his arms and legs,” she said.

Maseda Sainz’s parents built a foundation of hard work, dedication and service to the community. With that foundation in mind, she went to Saint Leo University to get a bachelor’s degree in management. She completed graduate studies at the University of South Florida, obtaining a master of science in management.

Maseda Sainz is now the vice president of communications for the Helios Education Foundation. It helps minority students succeed before and during their postsecondary education. She has also served as chairwoman of Tampa Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Council and USF’s Latin Community Advisory Committee.

“You don’t do community work for the praise, you do it for the purpose, and that’s been my mantra,” she said.

With that mantra, she has been named Tampa’s 2022 Hispanic Woman of the Year. She hopes to inspire other and future first generation Hispanic-Americans.

“As a first generation Cuban-American, I am proud not only of my Cuban heritage, but I am proud to be an American,” she said. “Si se puede, yes we can. Anything is possible and there are community resources to help.”

Maseda Sainz will be honored, along with Anthony Perez, 2022 Hispanic Man of the Year, at an awards gala on Oct. 21st., hosted by Tampa Hispanic Heritage, Inc.