I GREW UP in a small farm town called Eloy, Arizona, which I thought was the center of the universe. It was 4,000 people—beautiful, very rural. My mom was one of the first Latinas in Arizona to be elected to the school board. People were always sitting around our kitchen table as my mom tried to help solve issues in our community. What she taught me was that people come to you to be heard, not to be told. Part of being a leader is doing more listening than talking.
If you can speak three languages, you can learn from so many different people. It opens your eyes to different experiences in life.”
When I became a civil rights attorney, I wanted to help kids like me who had grown up in a rural community, from what people said was “a disadvantaged background.” But I never felt disadvantaged. I wanted to take the stigma away. I wanted to ensure children could live the life they wanted to live, without all the labels.
The face of our country is changing. In the 2020 U.S. Census, one of the largest demographic swings reported was individuals checking more than one race box. My focus now is trying to reach the diverse population of kids entering schools in a format they can understand and relate to.