Sep 24, 2019 | Atlanta, GA
Rosario Marin, author, advocate, and 41st treasurer of the United States, delivered the keynote address at Institute Diversity's Office of Hispanic Initiatives second annual Hispanic Heritage Month Lecture. She has served for more than two decades at the local, state, and national government levels and as an advocate for families of children with disabilities. Marin, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico at the age of 14, is the only foreign-born citizen to ever hold the office of U.S. Treasurer.
“During the 2019 Hispanic Heritage Month at Georgia Tech, we will recognize the contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United states,” said Toyya Pujol, a doctoral candidate in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, in her opening remarks referencing this year’s theme, Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation. “Hispanic Heritage Month pays tributes to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our society.”
“I hope each one of you can see yourself reflected in me,” Marin said at the top of her remarks. “My life is no different than yours; I just get the tremendous honor of sharing it with you,” she continued. “My life is your life.”
The daughter of a janitor father and seamstress mother, Marin described her experiences moving to California from her family’s two-room home in Mexico City.
“I didn’t want to come here,” she said. “I was fourteen-and-a-half; what about my quinceañera?” she quipped to audience laughs.
Though she initially struggled in high school because she couldn’t speak English, her persistence and reliance on an “English diet” led her to graduate at the top of her senior class. She then enrolled in East Los Angeles Community College, completing an associate’s degree, followed by the completion of a bachelor’s degree at California State University, Los Angeles -- all over the course of seven years.
While in college, she also began working fulltime at City National Bank in Beverly Hills, initially as an assistant to the receptionist. Six years later, she was appointed as the bank’s assistant vice president.
Her career and enrollment in an MBA program came to a halt, however, after her first child, Eric, was born with Down syndrome in 1985. His condition launched Marin to become an advocate for Latino families with children with disabilities. She also founded Padres de Personas con Sindrome Down (Parents of Persons with Down Syndrome), which was later renamed FUERZA, meaning "strength."
In addition to her public advocacy work, Marin became politically involved.
She won a city council seat in Huntington Park, California, in 1994. She then served for a term as mayor, becoming the first Hispanic to hold the position in the city’s history. And, in April 2001, President George W. Bush nominated Marin for the post of U.S. Treasurer. She was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate four months later.
“If someone would have said that those things were going to happen, I wouldn’t have believed them," Marin said." But that’s how my life happened.”
During her two-year tenure, she championed the Treasury's financial literacy outreach program focusing on the more than 10 million Americans who did not have their own bank account.
After a failed run in 2004 for the U.S. Senate – becoming the first Latina in California to run for a Senate seat – and serving in roles under the administration of then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, she published her memoir, Leading Between Two Worlds: Lessons from the First Mexican-Born Treasurer of the United States, in 2007.
At the conclusion of her lecture address, she shared three of her ‘Successful Seven’ values from the book which she says helped her gain successes both personally and professionally. “These are the three things I raised my kids with. They’ve very simple, but not always easy to do:”
Always do the right thing; always try your best; and always treat people the way you’d like to be treated.
“Look at me. I made it and so can you,” Marin concluded. “Know that whatever is for you, no matter how big your challenges are, no matter how difficult your obstacles are, you can overcome them. It is within you, but you have to believe.”
To view the 2019 Hispanic Heritage Month Lecture in its entirety, visit https://youtu.be/NPP0SUMNOXw.
The Hispanic Heritage Month Lecture is a part of Georgia Tech’s Intercultural Lecture Series. To learn more, visit https://hispanicoffice.gatech.edu/HispanicHeritageMonthLecture.