Walking into the Spanish Amiga Retail Store goes hand-in-hand with walking into the realization of Tamara Farmer’s dream.
The walls of the Spanish Amiga are decorated in printed pictures of Boyz II Men, Jesus Christ, Trey Songz, Arsenio Hall, Prince William and Prince Henry, and the Obamas.
Farmer sells socks, buttons and a variety of other items, each with special meaning to her she hopes to impart on her customers. There is not a single product she sells, book she owns, or scrap of paper in her store without a story.
Even the clothes Farmer wears have a story. During the interview, Farmer wore the same outfit she wore on the Arsenio Hall Show, with one notable difference. Around her neck was a blue-and-red tie given to her personally by Arsenio Hall.
Hall has been an icon for Farmer since she was a little girl, and it had been her dream to meet him. Now, after being on his show, Hall and Farmer occasionally exchange tweets.
“Dreams come true. This is something I’ve wanted for twenty years and it finally happened,” Farmer said as she glanced over her store.
Farmer grew up in North Carolina, where she obtained two associates degrees. She had nearly completed a Spanish program too, but stumbled towards the end.
“I got to the 300 level and thought it was going to kill me,” she said.
Farmer said the turning point in her life came in 2006 when she realized her grades wouldn’t allow her to graduate.
Around the same time, her childhood pen pal had invited her to go on a cruise. The prospect of flying down to Florida and roaming the ocean frightened Farmer, who grew up in a town with a single stop light.
“I told myself, ‘you’re either going to go and have fun or stay home and be scared.’” Farmer took the cruise and said it changed her life.
The following year, she flew to Albuquerque. Farmer was able to transfer her full-time working status from a Walmart in North Carolina to the store on Carlisle Boulevard. She started at the University of New Mexico that fall.
Farmer began her career at UNM taking just two classes a semester and working full-time. But the progress was slow, and Farmer realized she wouldn’t finish in time at her current pace. So, she took another chance and started going to school full-time.
Towards the end of her time at UNM, Farmer and her theater class were putting on a play that was set to run during one of her shifts at Walmart. Her teacher gave her tickets to give to her boss, so she could ask for time off.
“I kept dreaming about all my teachers. Either they are talking about me, or I miss them.” Farmer said remembering her teachers.
She graduated in 2014, but Farmer calls herself a career student. “I still want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, a homeowner, a hotel owner, a car lot owner and a wedding planner.”
However, Farmer said she was glad she graduated when she did. She said the Albuquerque Rapid Transit construction and UNM’s requirement for full-time students to be enrolled in 15 credit hours would have been hard on her, still having to work at least part-time.
Farmer’s parting advice was, “Pray and ask God for the wisdom and the money to make it happen.”
Justin Garcia is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc.