Lessons from former highest-ranking Latina

Photo by Danielle Sisson, Student Publications

Moving to the United States was Rosario Marin’s worst nightmare come true. She had looked forward to celebrating her quinceañera her whole life, but mere months before she turned fifteen, her family uprooted their lives in Mexico City and traveled across the border until they eventually settled down in California.

During the journey, all Marin did was lament over the idea of not having a traditional quinceañera until — finally — her parents agreed to return to Mexico for her birthday. Once Marin’s 15th birthday eventually arrived, the family traveled back to their home and commenced the festivities surrounding the young girl’s milestone.

It might have taken place in a small backyard filled with mud from the August rain, but to Marin it was perfect. It was not just a celebration of the young girl, but also one of her culture and heritage.

In a similar celebration of culture for Hispanic Heritage Month, Marin delivered an inspiring lecture in the Student Center ballroom on Sept. 18.

Marin discussed her career after President Bush appointed her as the 41st treasurer of the United States in 2001, when she became the first Latina immigrant to ever be given the position.

The lecture was full of unexpected anecdotes which both surprised and inspired the audience, as she shared the way in which she pushed herself to accomplish extraordinary feats, not just in the political arena, but also as an author and an advocate for those with disabilities.

Throughout her lecture, Marin did not present herself as a boring government official, but rather as a compassionate woman — as a daughter, sister, wife and mother.

“People want to know: what are your values? What do you believe in? How do you get up when you fall?” said Marin.

She dedicated all of her success to the trials and tribulations she faced throughout her life for strengthening her values. From the beginning, it seemed the cards were stacked against her, but she never let any obstacle skew her path to success.

When she first arrived in the U.S. and enrolled in school, Marin was required to take an IQ test, on which she scored an impressively low score of 27, whereas the average at the time was 100. Nonetheless, she realized that the test was working against her as it was written in English, a language that she had yet to master.

“I wasn’t going to let that define who I was,” said Marin, a lesson she would return to multiple times throughout her career.

That failure motivated her to study harder and, just three years later, Marin graduated from high school as one of the top 20 students in her class.

“Always do your most. Always do your best — and do it with gusto!” Marin exclaimed, with her perseverance serving as a clear indication of her success.

Marin shared another lesson she has worked hard to instill in herself and in her family, advocating for not just hard work but also just work.

“Always do the right thing, [even] if it kills you, do the right thing,” said Marin. “If you do the right thing, you will always be able to look people in the eyes.”

As a figure working in politics, Marin learned quickly how difficult it is to stay ethical and mature in situations that are out of one’s control. This value might seem simple to most, “but the most important [value] is the hardest.”

Another value Marin discussed focused on the “golden rule” that society had come to love — “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Instead, Marin dubbed a new rule called “Rosario Marin’s Platinum Rule.” This platinum rule advises one not to treat people as one wishes to be treated, but to instead “treat everyone very well and respectfully.”

Marin advocated that living by these three main values will enable everyone to achieve personal success and overcome their relative obstacles, regardless of their circumstances or challenges.

“Know you have everything within you and go through the world without fear,” she said.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said that “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us doesn’t matter compared to what lies inside us.” Marin credits Wendell for how she leads her life.

“Always know that whatever’s before you, however big the challenges are, or however difficult those obstacles are, you can overcome them all. You have everything within you to overcome those challenges.”