Mosaic Stories

    Marco Plá

    “Have the courage to change your life and be tough because it’s not always easy.”

    Marco Aurélio R. Plá has lived by this advice and it has made him very successful in St. Louis. Originally from Brasília, Brazil, Marco moved to St. Louis in January of 2015 so his wife could pursue her Ph.D. in Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis. Marco has a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and has a broad experience working in cyber security, risk assessment, governance, and compliance. When the couple first moved to St. Louis, Marco continued working for the government of Brazil and would return every couple of months. In July of 2015, however, Marco decided to move to St. Louis full time and now works as a Security Specialist for Nestlé.

    The transition to the United States had its difficulties, but luckily Marco met Susan and Mauricio Gobbo who introduced him to the St. Louis Mosaic Project. Susan and Mauricio moved from Brazil in 2005 and are now Mosaic Ambassadors. Through the St. Louis Mosaic Project, Marco became involved with the Professional Connector Program, which was extremely influential in his transition. Marco spoke extremely highly of his experience with the Professional Connector Program and explained, “When I came here I only knew one person, but the Professional Connector Program helped me with interviews and to make connections with other professionals. I think my experience was desired in the market, but the St. Louis Mosaic Project was very important in helping me. I hope other people take advantage of this program because it is very helpful.”

    Marco has dual citizenship in Brazil and Italy and has traveled all over the world, but he has a particular appreciation for American society. Listening to Marco, you cannot help but notice his love for St. Louis. He explained, “The freedom and respect that is part of American society is better for the people. The thing that I like most is if you work hard, you have your place here. Especially in St. Louis, you have everything that a big city has to offer, but it also has the family environment and the culture. There are many libraries, bookstores, nightlife, museums, festivals, and musicians. All of these things make me love St. Louis.”

    The biggest challenge for Marco was to be away from his family, in a different culture. The transition to the United States was not easy, but Marco found many things that helped him. He said, “I believe if you are self-confident you can defeat these obstacles and never give up. What can help you in this challenge are the people. It is important that you work hard, study hard, have faith, and you will keep going and be successful.”

    Marco received help from Washington University in St. Louis, Viva Brazil, the St. Louis Mosaic Project, and ESL courses. Marco explained that people from the university helped him and his wife decide where to live and what kind of house to buy. The couple now lives by Forest Park and they love all of the activities available in the park. Marco also discussed the importance of practicing English. “I would suggest you take free ESL lessons and meet other people in the same situation as you. You can help others and receive help at the same time. Also, practice your English at libraries. St. Louis has a network of libraries with very high quality, and they have volunteers there to help you. They also have courses to help you find a job and to teach you about things like taxes.”

    In addition, Marco encourages immigrants to read a lot to open their minds. He found Dave Ramsey’s courses to be extremely helpful in learning how to become debt free and have savings. Above all, Marco believes that faith and a positive mentality are crucial to succeeding. Marco said when he first came to St. Louis he had some doubts about his abilities, but he quickly realized that he was able to be a valuable contribution to his company.

    Marco has only been in St. Louis full-time for a year, but he is already forming an amazing life here. He described his excitement for the future. “I had a very good life in Brazil. I was very well paid and had a good position, but I am definitely happier here. And this is just starting. We will be even more successful in the future. I definitely want to stay in St. Louis as long as the opportunities are here. I love St. Louis because there are a lot of opportunities for cultural and professional activities, and you have friendly people. The most important thing, I think, is that good people attract good people. I can see a lot of potential in St. Louis and with the St. Louis Mosaic Project. I think the Mosaic Project can attract a lot of people here and everyone will be happier.”