America is made great by the fact that we are a diverse multiracial, multicultural country built by people that come from all across the globe. We should value that diversity.
I very much identify as a Latina. My four grandparents were born and raised in Mexico, but my experience growing up here as a third-generation Latina is very different from theirs. That’s important because identity, as it evolves over time, is really a defining characteristic of who we are as a community.
My culture, language and heritage are all contributors to my success. But, on the other hand, I was born and raised here, and I’m an American in the full sense of the word.
This is a country that has tremendous potential and has provided opportunity for generations. It is clearly the place where people can succeed in ways they are unable to elsewhere. Yet, we're not entirely true to the promise of America. There isn't equal opportunity for all communities, and we need to remove the barriers that inhibit their success. That is the America that we all dream of, but it requires intentionality. It doesn't happen by itself.
It became clear to me, about two decades ago, that many issues inhibit the Latino community’s ability to progress or optimize their potential, and education is the gateway. So I decided, at this stage of my career, to dedicate myself 100 percent to education and accepted a position to lead the College Futures Foundation, which focuses on college access and success for low-income, underrepresented students of color in California. Right now, one out of every two California youths is Latino. They will be the workforce of tomorrow, and we need to make sure they’re well educated.
The focus on illegal immigration — while we care about our undocumented community — is a factual misrepresentation of who we are and what our issues are.