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How a Peruvian TikToker is helping other Latinos in Connecticut

Sheyla Rivadeneyra, a Peruvian Tik Toker living in Connecticut recording clips for her coming video at the opening of a new venue in Peruvian restaurant, Piolin in East Hartford.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
Connecticut Public
Sheyla Rivadeneyra, a Peruvian TikToker living in Connecticut, records clips for her coming video at the opening of a new venue in a Peruvian restaurant, Piolin, in East Hartford.

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Social media transformed the way people see life and businesses market themselves. But one Latina TikTok influencer in Connecticut is also leveraging the social media platform to educate and uplift newcomers in the Latino community.

Originally hailing from Lima, Peru, Sheyla Rivadeneyra has lived in Connecticut for approximately two years.

Rivadeneyra’s TikTok videos might not be exactly what you’d expect from someone with hundreds of thousands of likes; she does review products and food, but she also uses her platform to offer a mix of cultural exploration and practical advice tailored to Latinos living in Connecticut who need guidance accessing local resources.

“Many people don't know that in Connecticut, you can get a driver’s license with your passport, but many people don't,” Rivadeneyra said. “In my videos, I inform people so that they can achieve their goals and have more opportunities."

Rivadeneyra's main focus is promoting bilingualism and integration within American society.

"Many people come to the United States to work, which is fine,” Rivadeneyra said. “But it is important to adapt to the rules and learn English. Learning English helps you so that, for example, you don't spend your entire life cleaning, which is not a bad job. But it is always good to aspire for more and grow.”

Recognizing the influence of social media, an increasing number of businesses are reaching out to Rivadeneyra to leverage her platform to promote their services, knowing that it offers access to a broader audience and potential customers.

Ali Orejuela is the 23-year-old manager of a Peruvian restaurant in East Hartford and was one of those business people who invited Rivadeneyra to attend the opening of their new venue because of her social media following.

“I'm very excited because with social media it helped us expand,” Orejuela said. “Because a lot of people are like oh I found out about the restaurant on Tiktok or through Instagram or Facebook so we're grateful.”

"People want to see real people. They don't want to see models or artists promoting,” Rivadeneyra said, “I’m not tall. I'm a real person, and people identify with that.”

Through her videos, Rivadeneyra hopes to break down barriers and foster understanding among different cultures including within the Latino community.

“I am Peruvian," she explained. "Lately, I have started to make videos about everything. For instance, last week, I tried Puerto Rican food, and the video went viral. I'm going to visit more restaurants like Ecuadorian Mexican because here in Connecticut, there are people from all countries.”

According to the Peruvian General Consul for Connecticut and Rhode Island, over 35,000 people of Peruvian descent live in Connecticut, and constitute a notable portion of the state's overall Hispanic population, which is 18%.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.