I Belong Series: Meet Manuel, Emerging Talent Associate Recruiter

Manuel is a wonderful person, a valuable asset to our talent acquisition team, a good friend, a pet parent to two adorable dogs, and an all-around great guy to work with. As a PetSmart pack member of almost 4 months, Manuel has already begun to make a positive impact on our Emerging Talent team and feels he belongs at PetSmart. He took the time to share his story with us—learn about his journey below!


The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspective, and a way to build connection to each other. To learn more about the “I Belong” Series or to submit your stories, associates can visit PetSmart's Belonging Fetch Page.



Meet Manuel | Emerging Talent Associate Recruiter


I got called “girl” for the first time in the 1st grade. In and of itself, it’s not a harmful term. The way it was said, though, was meant to be hurtful. Until then, I’d never given thought as to what made each of us different. Other kids somehow saw something about who I was that I hadn’t even recognized in myself yet. But because they decided I was somehow “different,” I instantly became an “other.”


Through 6th grade, my mom would walk me to my classroom on the first day of school to discuss the teasing I experienced with my homeroom teacher. That year, I distinctly remember the look of disinterest from my homeroom teacher and immediately associated him with the rest of the kids who’d bullied me over the years. I knew I was, yet again, on my own.


The name-calling and teasing persisted well into high school. My armor continued to grow, and my friendships were few but fierce. By this time, I’d come to the full realization of who I was regarding my sexuality and the difficulties that lay ahead. That’s when I decided that enough was enough. Doing so allowed me to stand in my authentic truth for the first time in my life. Along the way, I found my people who would lift me up when things get tough and celebrate me harder than I probably deserve.


Since then, I’ve continued to navigate through all personal and professional circumstances with an empathetic approach. I’ve grown to understand that people don’t know what they don’t know. And that’s ok. While I don’t hold all the answers, I take great pride in being an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on because I allowed myself to walk alone for too long.


For the first time, professionally speaking, it truly feels as though I’m not walking alone. The culture of inclusivity that exists at PetSmart is truly head and shoulders above other organizations I’ve worked for. Active and intentional conversations around diversity and inclusivity are happening daily at PetSmart. It isn’t just an elevator speech, and for that, I’m not only excited but proud. Anyone from any department, walk of life, or background will see themselves within our organization. The value this alone holds has me looking forward to all the work, challenges, and successes that await me in my new adventure here.