Walmart Associate Talent Search Finalists

Associates Week 2024

This singing duo is bringing their rich Asian Pacific heritage to the big stage at Associates Week 2024.

For Walmart’s Associate Talent Search (WATS) finalists Juanette Villagomez and Leischeng Saures — Nette and Lei to their fellow associates — singing is more than a pastime. It’s a rich part of their Pacific Islander heritage.

After a stunning performance at Walmart’s Asian Pacific Associates Network (APAN) AAPI Heritage Month Celebration, these two remarkable women are ready to share their traditions and talent on an even larger stage at the 2024 Associates Week Celebration.

Sneak a peek at their journey — and be sure to catch them in the live stream of Friday’s Celebration!

A year of yes

For Nette, the end of 2023 marked a significant turning point in her life. After the unexpected loss of a loved one, Nette vowed to make 2024 the year she embraced opportunities and said “yes” to new adventures.

This mindset led her to take on a new role as academy coach at Store 3213 in The Woodlands, Texas, embark on more family adventures and dare to try new things. Entering the Talent Search, says Nette, “was one of those new things.”

“Of course, as a native Pacific Islander, we don’t try things alone. We do them as a family,” Nette explains. “So, I reached out to Lei, who works at Store 3585 just 15 minutes away. She’s my niece on my husband’s side, and like all of my in-laws, she’s so musically talented. Oh my gosh, I married into the right family!” she says, smiling.

As a busy nursing student and digital associate, Lei hadn’t heard of Walmart's talent show. But when Nette asked her to enter with her, Lei couldn’t say no. “Juanette is someone I really look up to. I was so surprised and really honored that she asked me to be a part of it,” Lei shares.

And their talent? Singing, of course!

Nette and Lie singing at the Walmart Home Office auditorium

Celebrating heritage through music

Although both women have called Texas home for more than a decade, their Chamorro and Carolinian traditions remain integral to their daily lives — especially music. “As Pacific Islanders, music runs through our veins. We pass down our stories through music and art,” Nette explains.  

For their entry, they chose the song, “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” both for their love of reggae and to honor the memory of Nette’s friend.

“We wanted a song that not only was something we would listen to, but also had a message that meant something to us. We also hoped that reggae was something new to the WATS program,” says Lei.

After selecting their song, the duo rehearsed only once! “But we recorded our entry at least a hundred times! We have so many bloopers,” Lei laughs. “The whole process was just incredibly fun.”

Juanette and Lei are now preparing for the Walmart Associates Week Talent Show, where they’ll perform their heartfelt duet. But before that, they had the honor of performing a remix of two traditional songs, "Make It Mariånas Again" and "Håfa Adai,” at APAN’s marquee event for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

“Lei and I are excited about performing with the other WATS finalists during Associates Week,” says Nette, “but it was an honor to be a part of the event, not just to showcase our talent, but also our roots.”

The remix, Lei adds, “celebrates who we are as Pacific Islanders and the beautiful scenery of the island of Saipan.”

A family in tune

Nette’s husband contributed to the instrumentals while Nette and Lei performed in their native Chamorro, which Nette is also teaching her children.

Naturally, her kids have been drawn to learning Chamorro through song. “There’s a Chamorron song my son randomly found on Instagram,” Nette says. “And he’s been listening to it over and over.”

Music, reminds Nette, is a universal language. As they gear up for their Associates Week performance, Nette and Lei are not only sharing their talent but also their heritage and heartfelt stories with a broader audience. And we couldn’t be more grateful!

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