Buenos dias! My name is Jose, and I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, where I lived for 23 years before moving to the United States of America.
When thinking about my cultural background and the particulars that shaped me personally and professionally, it takes me back to what some consider the defining trait of greater Hispanic culture—that of perseverance.
The American Dream has long been a concept to aspire to for everyone, including both those people already living here and those still making the journey. Myself, I have personally witnessed many instances where it has been achieved by my Hispanic fellows—thanks to their unfailing determination, people were able to forge a better life for themselves and those around them. One of those people was my grandmother, a lighthouse that guided me and many others to be a better person and, in turn, a better professional.
Her name was Ana Luz, and she was born in 1928 in Dominican Republic where she grew up in an impoverished small town that offered few opportunities to succeed. Despite the obstacles and the challenges of her circumstances, Ana Luz wasn’t willing to settle—she imagined and then strived for a better future for herself and her family. Determined to beat the odds so heavily stacked up against her, she remained resilient and pushed herself through nursing school with little assistance. When she graduated as an Operating Room Nurse, she succeeded in establishing her own, chosen path.
Armed with a strong work ethic, a fiery desire to succeed, and her perseverance, she worked her way up to become the head of nursing at the main hospital in the Dominican Republic. Back then, it was a time where women were not allowed in positions of leadership—and there were even less opportunities for her as a black woman—but she accomplished all of this while also managing her household and raising seven children even as her husband, a civil engineer, frequently served assignments out of town for months at a time.
"As a child, I marveled at the wisdom of her words, not knowing that she was planting those same seeds of character inside of me."
What I remember are the stories she would tell me about the detail she would put into her work—how she would meticulously prepare for the medical procedures to be performed, how she anticipated what was needed beforehand, and how she would manage unexpected, complicated situations that would arise in the operating room. As a child, I marveled at the wisdom of her words, not knowing that she was planting those same seeds of character inside of me.
Those little seeds she planted grew into a forest, and my grandmother’s impact in this world has become known through not just me, but all of us around her. Her determination throughout all her life lifted our family to new heights in many ways, including our professional fields. In leading by example, she taught all of us to strive for more, to be the best we can be, and to remain resilient and fight any obstacles in our paths.
Stories like this exist for many different Hispanic families. Though we may come from different countries, our similar perseverance bonds us, as does our well-known passion and warmth—a combination that provides a blueprint for our culture to create leaders that care for others.
As such, I am proud to be Hispanic, and I am glad that we take this time as a country to celebrate the fortitude and achievements of Hispanic people in America.
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