Cecilia: Entrepreneur By Day, Soma Cofounder By Night
M. Cecilia Silva Montoya is Soma International’s Co-Founder and Vice President. She also serves on the Board of Directors and is a Virginia Tech Alumna, Class of 2014.
Cecilia first met Soma International’s founder, Mohamed, in August 2012. She was at her
weekly research meeting for the Center of Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech. Mohamed arrived at the weekly meeting as a guest speaker to talk about his experiences as a Tanzanian native. Mohamed wanted to encourage better access to education for all Tanzanians. With two immigrant parents, Cecilia felt the connection to Mohamed’s speech. Like those in Tanzania, Cecilia’s parents did not have the resources to continue their education. Even without an advanced education, her parents instilled in her the values of reading and to be resourceful. She wanted to continue the legacy her parents began and encourage others to be able to read and learn as she once could. Mohamed’s persistence through many obstacles inspired Cecilia.
Several years ago, Cecilia decided to start her own business in a salon called Hair by Cecilia M Silva. Her business gave her a way to express her passion for creativity further. In addition to her roles as a business owner and Soma co-founder, Cecilia enjoys activities such as hiking with her dogs, reading, traveling, and learning new languages. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has a goal to learn Arabic and Swahili.
Cecilia and Mohamed have worked together on creating an extensive plan for Soma International since the day they met. Their work has led to over 10,000 books being donated by affiliates of Virginia Tech and the surrounding communities; from this and financial and emotional support, the first rural center in Boko, Dar Es Salaam, was built in 2015. Today, as a Vice President for Soma International, Cecilia implements structure and strategies into Soma International operations. In addition, she leads blogs to be published.
Knowledge is boundless
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Written by: Sadie Andersen & M. Cecilia Silva Montoya
Edited by: Emily Keshap & Kenzie Hyde