An immigrant’s path to the American Dream, I came to the US (Chicago) as an impressionable 10-year old. Here I learned to internalize and deep-root the values of freedom, equality and opportunity. Seeking further access to that opportunity my family moved to Arlington, Texas, where I charted my path in education, military service, corporate-leadership and entrepreneurial success.
Underprivileged and plagued by poverty, I escaped troubled youth by joining the U.S. Army Reserve. It was my way of keeping a small light of hope alive towards my personal American Dream. I am forever grateful to the Army for instilling in me, values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. All of which, at that time, I desperately needed in my life. I rose through the enlisted ranks very quickly, becoming the youngest Army Drill Sergeant in 2002. As a Drill Sergeant, I was trusted with raw recruits, and given the responsibility of turning them into the new generation of soldiers. That trust and the heavy responsibility which came with the position, at such a young age, inspired me to even greater levels of service .
Tragedy would strike my family, as two immediate family members suffered from debilitating medical incidents. Together with my mother - the strongest woman I know - assumed the role of caretakers. Day after day, I learned first-hand about the alarming state of the American healthcare system. More specifically, I learned how cruel that system can be to our lower-income citizens.
I experienced the ups and downs of American-entrepreneurship through business start-ups, graduated from College, sought meaningful employment, welcomed a nephew to the world and family moved into a middle class Arlington home. My nephew’s birth brought love, joy, and a sense of new hope for my family – burning the light of our American Dream just a bit brighter.
Facing some, negative, hateful, xenophobic abuse, I continued to serve in the Army Reserve and commissioned as an officer. I have always found, the institution that is the military-corps and it’s core-values are absolute and steadfast in rejecting such behavior. Avenues existed for me to champion equality and rise above the cynicism. Without sacrificing my values, I continued to serve and to be very successful at that service. I climbed through the organization to serve on staff for 1-Star, 2-Star, and 3-Star Commanders, where I learned first-hand how the Defense mission is formed and executed. Especially how it is integrated with other Federal Agencies, as well as other nations.
I used the fruits from my civilian employment to invest in Arlington, TX through Real Estate & development opportunities. Believing and having trust in the community, I wanted to play a part in our city’s redevelopment. I ended up using profits from that investment to pay for a major portion of my graduate education at Southern Methodist University’s MBA program.
Grateful to God for stabilizing my family’s health and finances, I traveled extensively to Washington, D.C. as a Consultant for Deloitte and as a DoD appointee to the US Chamber of Commerce. Again, hands-on, I learned the complex engine that is our federal government, how those agencies function, and how lobbyists maneuver to influence their decisions. I could not help but realize, how the interests of regular people back in Arlington were being lost in those complexities. I began looking for avenues to fight for and represent regular people.
After 22 years in the military and an extensive civilian career, I understand what service to our nation means. That is why I genuinely want to continue that service as an elected official for my home district. I distinctly remember how many times I had to crawl uphill and work through the grind of lower-income reality. It is tiring to think about that struggle and about how so many doors to opportunity should have been far easier to open.
I wholeheartedly want to open those doors and build paths to the American Dream for all citizens. I want to continue to serve my community and country by making the process a bit easier and far more dignified for everyone to obtain.