Saturday Spotlight- Josefina Aquino

Name: Josefina Aquino
Nickname: Josie
Age: 42
Current Town: Brentwood
Marital Status: Single
Kids: None. I have a bunch of nieces, nephews & godchildren. Auntie of the year every year
Pets: Spuds & Mackenzie (Pugs) still have my heart. May they RIP. I want another furbaby but traveling too much for work these days won’t let me get my pawrenting on (le sigh)
Education: Bachelor’s in Psychology, Master’s Degree in Social Work and a long list of certifications that help me flex my superpowers
Occupation: Director, Care Team Development at a health/tech start-up
Hobbies: Running (obvi), traveling, spending time with fam/friends, monthly massages

Wondering how far back I should go…

I’m proud to say I’m an immigrant. I came to the US, from the Dominican Republic, with my family when I was 5 years old, spoke no English and had to attend ESL classes until I did. One would never guess that, so it’s funny when people hear me speaking Spanish and ask me where I learned how to speak it so well- HA! I learned about hard work from my parents. We struggled financially at times, as some people I know can relate to, but we worked with what we had. I started working at the age of 14 and haven’t stopped since. People tell me I’m a natural-born leader or maybe it’s code for bossy. Either way, I focus on showing up, being present and doing the best I can in everything I do.

One thing my parents did well was consistently stress the importance of education, which they did not pursue beyond high school back home. I was a proud nerd up until 7th grade. When I moved to Central Islip (from Brentwood), I unloaded the books a bit and started to socialize more. I joined the track team. Some of my best memories take me back to track meets and invitationals. Oh what fun we had!! I’ll often hear a song from the early 90’s and I get nostalgic, taking me back to those moments. My coach started me with the 400 meters (hated it) and would throw me in different distances. My favorite event was the triple jump and sometimes the 4×4 relay. I wasn’t super fast, by any means, but I did my part. I learned so much from my coach, Carl Hawker. He was an important figure in my life- a great man. Shout out to Coach Hawker who still cheers virtually whenever I post race pics! I didn’t have the training discipline then that I have today. I think it’s because, for me, the best part of running was, and still is, the community. I love running and the connection I feel when doing so. Racing is cool as long as it’s fun. No fun, no run.

I headed straight to college after high school. I loaded up the books once again and struck a great balance between work, my studies and having fun. I was active in student government. Fun fact: I campaigned to become President of the SGA (Student Government Association) and won. The first female in the history of the college to do so. I couldn’t believe it, like the first one- Why? Anyhow, that was the beginning and end of my political career.

I didn’t run much during college but remained active. I went to the gym, signed up for a charity run here and there, signed up for events that required signing waiver forms (crazy ish that included mud, bubbles, obstacles and other craziness), and even purchased a road bike to spice things up. I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long while who told me about a social running group on Long Island called Black Girls Run, which was created in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community. I developed great relationships with amazing women in the group and started signing up for races. Since then, I’ve continued running and added GLIRC/Fast Feet and Selden Hills Warriors to my extended running family. Races are always better when you see familiar faces. I met Sue (GLIRC) at a training run one day; we chatted about the Fast Feel racing team and I decided to join because of how welcoming she and others on the team were. Then there’s Lou- if a person doesn’t like Lou, something is terribly wrong. I met Lou at a race and he invited me to run the hills one Sunday. Again, community- that’s what this running thing is all about for me 🏃🏾‍♀️.

I’m close with my family, those both near and far. My friends are my family and I cherish those relationships with everything I have. I’m not sure what my life would be like without the close girlfriends in my circle. I have 20+ years of friendship under my belt with some of my peeps. I have more recent friendships with my spirits animals and other special humans. I’ve had great mentors and I try to consistently pay it forward by doing the same for others. Life is about creating memories with people you care about and I don’t take any of those relationships for granted. I try my best to integrate things in my life that bring me joy. I have no problem cutting ties with toxic or negative people. Positive vibes only because life is truly too short.

Words/quotes I live by:

Treat others how you want to be treated

Your race, your pace

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Try your best and forget the rest

Your vibe attracts your tribe

It takes many years to develop a great reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good side pose (check my photos for confirmation) and a good laugh. After a race, you can find me near the snacks. #IrunForSnacks. To know me is to love me. If you don’t, you’re missing out 😜

Ps. I’m in corral C waiting to start the BK Half. Thankful for copy/paste.