From CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera
Family and sacrifice – these are the dominant themes you hear over and over again from the five women we profiled today. The importance of family is the cornerstone of Hispanic culture and with that comes sacrifice. The parents of these women braved hardships and gave up niceties (never mind luxuries!) to make sure their children had the tools they needed to succeed in America – education and a belief that hard work will get you where you want to go.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis says this about her parents, who met in citizenship classes: "They knew they wanted so much more for their children. They have really been major supporters of all of their children, but extremely important for my success."
Linda Alvarado, a construction magnate in Colorado, still remembers her mother's advice: "Empieza pequeno, pero pensa grande. My mother would tell me, start small, Linda, but think big." And did she ever, eventually becoming the first Hispanic owner, male or female, of a Major League Baseball team.
None of these women was afraid of stereotypes. Alvarado knew that Hispanics were seen as construction workers, but not owners. That didn't stop her.
It didn't stop basketball superstar and Olympic gold medal winner Diana Taurasi either. "…There's not many [Latinas] in women's basketball, especially not at the professional level," she said. Still, she was the number one draft pick the year she went to the Phoenix Mercury.
Paloma Herrera was a star at the age of 19 when she became the youngest female principal dancer with American Ballet Theater. I love what she says about success in America: "Doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, what you do, if you're talented, if you deserve it, you should have it."
Each one of them could have been their own story today. Each one is incredibly compelling and brought tears to my eyes.
Many of them are "firsts" in some way. The "first Latina" to do this, the "first Latina" to do that. I can tell you from experience, its not easy being a "first."
I still remember the day when Carl Quintanilla and I were named anchors at CNBC. It was 2002. The bosses pointed out to us that we would be the network's first Latino and Latina anchors. I hadn't realized that and was shocked. It added a layer of responsibility to what we were doing. We didn't want to disappoint ourselves, our bosses, our parents, nor the community from which we came.
Some viewers (very few) sent nasty e-mails suggesting we got the jobs not because we deserved it, but because we were Hispanic. You know what? It only made us work that much harder.