In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to highlight Celina Cereceres, a leader in our firm who approaches each day with gratitude, determination, and confidence. Read below and learn how Celina’s family, historical figures, and lessons learned helped shape who she is today.
“Cesar Chavez, Lauro Cavazos, Ellen Ochoa and most recently Sonia Sotomayor top the list of Hispanic historical figures we revere and wish to emulate. However, my heart always goes back to my mom and dad. My mom was born in the United States, but my father immigrated from Mexico to the United States when he was eight years old. In the U.S., he worked with his father in the crop fields and being the oldest of seven children, he was expected to help support his family. His parents enrolled him in public school and it was difficult from the start because he could not speak English. What’s worse is that Spanish was forbidden and if spoken during class, students were punished. Because programs such as bilingual education or English Language Learners were not popular in the mid-1950s, there wasn’t really a place for him. He suffered a great deal going through U.S. public school system, but he became a U.S. citizen a few years after his arrival and in 1969 he graduated from high school.
My mom likewise had her hardships that are too numerous to detail here. She was a great student athlete but had to take responsibility of her ill mother at a very young age. She also graduated from high school in 1969.
As I reflect as an adult, it’s a peculiar thing to realize your parents were real adults with real life struggles. These days, we’re inundated with political opinions and unfortunately negativity about the United States—even from its own citizens. However, I never once heard my dad speak negatively about the United States. They embraced the U.S. culture, but always managed to meld it with the Mexican culture as well—liveliness, passion, music, and of course food.
Because of my parents, Hispanic Heritage means persevering no matter the situation and maintaining a grateful, humble heart. They always asked us to give 100% in everything that we did, whether it was our service to God, to our employers, or to our family. I’m in awe of their unmatched work ethic that has made me the woman that I am today. I remember my mom and dad sleeping and eating sparingly, yet they managed to make our lives as easy as possible. While they may not be Supreme Court justices or civil rights activists, their influence has allowed me to make an impact in others’ lives through my profession and love of education and for that my parents will always be my role models.
During Hispanic Heritage month, reflect on those Hispanic role models that have changed your lives and choose to do the same for others now and in the years to come. In doing so, your life will only become sweeter.”