Los Angeles City Council
Jose Huizar was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles. His father was a machinist and his mother worked for a meatpacking firm. He recalls his neighborhood as being riddled with violence.
When he entered sixth grade, Huizar decided to improve his education by attending a Catholic school. Since his parents could not afford the school fees, he began working to pay his way. Huizar’s entrepreneurial spirit eventually propelled him into public leadership as the first Latino immigrant Los Angeles City Councilman. He represents Council District 14 that includes the Boyle Heights neighborhood he grew up in.
M.D., University of Florida & Shands
Angelina Imelda Valladares’ father was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States when he was very young. Her mother was a refugee from Cuba. Although her parents were supportive of her education, they had seven children and had no money to spare.
Juan Simón Méndez Rodríguez was born in New York City. His family moved to the Dominican Republic, where he spent most of his young life. He returned to New York in 1975. In 1983 he graduated summa cum laude from St. John’s University and was awarded the St. John’s Neumann Student Teacher of the Year Award. He received his Masters of Arts degree, summa cum laude, in 1985 from Fordham University, New York. The University of Chicago awarded him a Board of Trustee Fellowship to pursue doctoral studies. He declined the offer to become a New York City public school teacher.
Chairman and CEO
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD)
Dr. Ruiz was born in the border town of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. He graduated as valedictorian just three years after beginning to learn English.
Arelys Feliciano Sánchez, a New York native, dropped out of school at age 13 so she could help her struggling Puerto Rican family. She worked as an administrative aide and eventually acquired her GED.