Arely Mendoza-Cantos is the founder and director of ALWAYS GRACIOUS- The Academy of Etiquette & Charm, the first Bilingual (Spanish/English) school of Etiquette and Image on Long island.
Born in El Salvador, Arely was raised in a traditional home and attended a Catholic school where etiquette and protocol were a component of the school curriculum. It was there she developed a passion for good manners and social graces that would stay with her forever. Due to the political instability in her country, Arely's family immigrated to the USA. She arrived in New York as an adolescent.
Arely holds an Associate Degree in Arts with a major in Biology from Hostos Community College; a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Hunter College and a Master's degree in Public Affairs and Administration from The Metropolitan College of New York, and a Certificate in Professional Table Manners from The Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette. Arely took modeling classes at the Mundo Hispano Modeling School, and photography and image classes at the D'Ante Modeling Studio.
During her freshman years Arely operated the business Paola's Modeling School, but as time passed by she envisioned creating a business where children, teens and adults could learn about etiquette and style. So she closed Paola's and in 2004 she opened ALWAYS GRACIOUS - The Academy of Etiquette & Charm, an institution dedicated exclusively to the teachings of good manners and proper social behavior.
Since its inception the Academy has been a success, over the years Arely has presented her Etiquette courses and workshops to individuals, families, groups as well as community organizations, schools, colleges and business. However, it is important to mention that besides her passion for the Etiquette field, Arely also has an strong background in Human Services in the area of Mental Health as well in the area of teaching. It was during her years as a new entrepreneur, while managing Paola's Modeling School that she had the opportunity to work in both fields carrying out different responsibilities that gave her a great deal of knowledge and shaped her to be the creative, enthusiastic, nurturing and patient teacher that she is today with students of any age.
For instance, she worked in the education field as a Spanish tutor, Research Associate, and Teacher Assistant at Hunter College, as an English tutor for children at the Carter G. Woodson Cultural Literacy Project as well as an Adjunct professor in the Continuing Education Departments of Queens College, Hostos Community College, Queensborough Community College and Medgar Evers College teaching Etiquette and Protocol classes to children and adults.
Additionally, she worked in the area of mental health as a Spanish translator and English tutor for children at the Psychiatric Department of Elmhurst Hospital and as a case manager at FEGS Adults Continuing Day Treatment Program. Later, she became a program director of a communitarian mental health clubhouse in Manhattan. Her expertise in mental health and etiquette turned Arely into a strong advocate to integrate Cultural Etiquette as a therapeutic tool in health care. She firmly believes that when health providers use cultural etiquette to connect with their hard-to-reach patients the result is very positive because they become cultural competent and more sensitive to the needs of their patients which helps to minimize the cultural understanding gap and ensures better treatment outcomes and a more cost-effective care. Due to her emphasis in Etiquette and Mental health, especially for the Latino community, Arely has been invited to participate in professional conferences such as the Latino Mental Health Conference at NYU Post-Graduate Medical School in Manhattan; The Latino Psychological Association of New Jersey Conference at Mount Clair University; The Eastern Regional Clubhouse Conference at Stanford, Connecticut; The Western Regional Clubhouse Coalition Conference at Golden, Colorado; The Hispanic and Mental Health Conference at Wichita, Kansas; The Mediterranean Social Psychiatric Rehabilitation Conference in Barcelona, Spain and Milan, Italy;The International ClubhouseCoalition Conference at Chattanooga, Tennessee; La Facultad de Ciencias Sociales at the Universidad Francisco Gavidia, San Salvador, El Salvador; El Congreso de la Mujer Latina Catolica en the Dioceses of Rockville Centre, Long Island, The Latino Mental Health Conference at North General Hospital at Manhattan, New York; among others. She has attended these conferences as a guest/key note speaker and has addressed issues related to cultural diversity, cultural competency, social etiquette and disparity in mental health services.
As an etiquette consultant, Arely had the pleasure to work as the Etiquette and Image consultant for The Civic Committee of EL Salvador in Long Island and for La Tribuna Hispana Magazine's beauty pageants: "Miss Salvador USA" and "Queen of Queens".
Also she has been featured in local and international newspaper articles such as El Diario de Hoy (El Salvador), Izalco News (Miami), La Tribuna Hispana (Long Island), and Noticias Del Mundo Newspaper (New York), Newsday (New York) and Long Island Parent magazine, The Malverne/West Hempstead Herald "Who's who in the Neighborhood" and she has been interview for online articles such as Goarticles.co "May I break the Glass Ceiling, please?".
She has been interviewed on USA Latino TV programs such as "Aquí y Ahora" (Univisión), "Rincón Latino" (Telemundo) and in El Salvador on "Entrevista al Día" (Channel 12). She has presented Etiquette segments in the following TV programs: "Centroamerica Nuestra" channel, 44, 54 and 38, and "La Vida Latina" (Telecare, Long Island), "Las Comadres con Gloria B" (Telemund0), and "Viva la Vida" (TELEPAZ, Canal Sur, Miami, FL), and Fios TV.
Arely is a member of communitarian organizations such as Mothers of Malverne (MOMS), The Holistic Moms of South Nassau; and professional organizations, suchasThe Association of Hispanic Mental Health Professionals (AHMHP), and Strathmore's WHO'S WHO, edition 2002-2003. She collaborates with Learning for Life National Organization to provide Etiquette workshops to public schools in Suffolk. Arely also supports The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
In her downtime, Arely loves reading and home decorating, but especially loves to spend time with her family. She enjoys being involved in her daughter's school activities and extracurricular activities as well. Arely firmly believes that one of the best gifts a parent can give to his/her child is to teach them good manners because good manners last a life time and can be passed from generation to generation.