Staff Profile: Meet Dilma Lubrano

Dilma Lubrano is a Food Service Specialist at Southcoast Health. The diverse languages, cultures, and countries she’s experienced in her life are reflected in her creations of fresh food at Charlton Memorial Hospital.

At 20 years old, she was working as an assistant cook in France. “I loved working in the kitchen. It was a bistro restaurant. Traditional French dishes. Soup and steak, not a lot of fish but more meat. The restaurant I worked at was more about the presentation. It was a lot of vegetables.”

Dilma took a chance by leaving her home, Santiago, Cape Verde’s biggest island, to pursue her first passion: cooking. “I have one aunt in France. She invited me twice. The first time I went on vacation, and the second time I stayed. When I went, it wasn’t hard like it was when I came here, because I studied and spoke both English and French there. French was always easy for me. Not like English.”

After more than a year of creating French cuisine, Dilma returned home. “I worked for an airline and an accounting company, and I traveled for 12 years.”

By her mid-20s, Dilma had seen Africa, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the United States while working as a flight attendant. Portuguese Creole, Portuguese, French, English, and a little Spanish are all in her vocabulary.

“I was a flight attendant for two years. The languages helped me because I could talk to all the passengers,” she says. “I speak French because I went to France. I love the language. Spanish because I work with people who speak Spanish. It’s easy because it’s close to Portuguese. In Cape Verde, our language is Creole and Portuguese. You learn Portuguese at school. All the books are in Portuguese. Everyone speaks Creole, so I speak Creole, but I can’t write or read it.”

Boston was the first U.S. city Dilma set foot in when she moved to the United States. “It wasn’t my dream to come here. It just happened; things changed in my life and, boom, I was here. It was different for me because America is always moving. The city and everything looked different. It wasn’t what I had in my mind, but I liked it.”

Originally Dilma settled in Brockton with her family. “I really didn’t like the U.S. at first. I was a little uncomfortable at the beginning with the language. I was a little lost. I would cry because my daughter couldn’t play with others. I couldn’t help her because I had to bring her to school, so I could work, but she caught on quickly. It was hard because I left everything.”

Nevertheless, Dilma didn’t let the language barrier bring her down. “I walked for 30 minutes to get to work. Then I got a driver’s license. Things started working out. I had two jobs.”

Now, Dilma and her family are building a life in Fall River, where co-workers describe her as a good role model who brings people together. Dilma loves her co-workers and says, “They are amazing.” She truly appreciates the flexibility that comes with her job. It has helped her with raising her daughter, and she is forever grateful for the department’s philosophy of work-life balance.

She credits part of her success to being able to learn from her experiences. “When I do something wrong, I never forget it. I learn from it. I’ve had a lot of different jobs. I’ve learned a lot of stuff. I am always learning in every job I do. You can use this knowledge every single day.” And, she has always come back to working with food. “I was always thinking about working in a kitchen.”

When asked if she ever gets homesick for the warm beaches of Cape Verde, she says, “Two years ago, I’d say yes, but not now.”