When I enlisted in the Coast Guard, it was hard for me to believe that I would possess the qualities that the service would be looking for in an officer. I am a Latina, born and raised in a Spanish-speaking country and although I have lots of great qualities, I was still far from being perfect and it was that gap that made me hesitate so much.
“Do I have the technical expertise that they need? Are my qualities really special? Why would they pick someone who has a strong accent as I do?” Those were some of my (many) insecurities. Two things I knew for sure: I possess a great ability to learn new things and I am a very optimistic person.
When we think about leaders, we think about extremely gifted people who possess amazing qualities that make them unrealistically unique. Sometimes it is hard for us to think that leaders are regular people like you and me. I learned English on my own without any formal courses when I was 14, and before joining the service I was a very successful entrepreneur in the private sector for more than 10 years, overcoming all the challenges of the worst economic recession of the past 60 years.
As Latinos, sometimes we do not realize that we are really unique. We are all natural-born leaders. We have all dealt with difficult situations; we know how powerful diversity can be; and we feel great taking care of people and helping them to achieve their goals. We treat everybody as family, and for Latinos, family is sacred. Regardless of the circumstances that we might be experiencing, we wake up every morning thankful to be alive and optimistic about everything around us. We do not think about how bad things might be. We are always thinking about solutions to make things better, and that mi amigo(a), is exactly what the Armed Forces is looking for.
Supportive (and “Super nice” too…)
Therefore, I invite you today to challenge yourself, to pursue your goals no matter how difficult they might seem. I encourage you to start, continue or complete your education; to advance in your military career as much as you can; to always keep improving yourself, and most importantly, never forget to help others on your way up.
We have what the services need. We are all special and unique. We are Latinos!
Submitted by Tamaris Hidalgo, Ensign, USCG