As I approach my one-year anniversary with Latino Giant, I’ve taken time to reflect on all the different individuals who have motivated and inspired me to strive to embody the Latino Giant spirit. Although realistically the list is miles long, my father and mother are undoubtedly at the core.
It all starts with my name, Valdez. To me, my family name signifies generations of hard work and perseverance. It gives me courage and moral fortitude. It reminds me that I’m not alone. But above all, it makes me feel grateful for the man who passed it on to me, Roberto Antonio Valdez Sr. My father provided me with the resources, guidance, support and love that has allowed me to become the man I am today. Roberto Antonio Valdez Sr., or who my two sisters and I warmly refer to as apa, encouraged us to not only meet, but exceed our potential. He spoke to us about the future and allowed us to dream freely. He raised us to be overachieving, goal-oriented, and ambitious individuals. This was done with equal support from his college sweetheart and partner in crime of over 30 years, mi ama.
Together, my parents created a clear vision of what the future should look like for us, and education was a cornerstone of our upbringing. I still remember being in elementary school and telling my friends that I was going to college. Not knowing exactly what it was or how I was getting there, college was something that was bound to be in my future. What seemed foreign to the majority of my friends at the time, seemed matter-of-fact to me. Growing up in a small town on the southern Arizona border where less than 15% of people in the county hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, made this a rare goal to have at such a young age.
As the years go by, I’ve come to realize that I’ll never stop learning from my parents. My mother, Elena Maria Valdez Ashworth, has a gentle soul and a heart of gold. She constantly teaches us how to be more patient and gentle. She reminds us to treat others as we would like to be treated. My father, a federal agent for over 30 years, reminds us that it’s not the amount of times you fall that count, but the amount of times you get back up.
As my dad entered his career in the U.S. government, first as a Border Patrol then as a Customs agent, his number one goal was to become a GS 13 Supervisor. For close to 20 years, my father applied for this position, but for many different reasons was never selected. Then finally, I received the phone call. “Roberto, I’m going to be a GS 13,” were the words my father relayed over the phone just a few weeks back. He was sworn in as a GS 13 Supervisor at the Nogales Port of Entry, and I couldn’t be prouder of him. He again taught my sisters and me that regardless of the circumstance or how impossible reaching a goal seems, hard work and perseverance will overcome any obstacle.
As Marketing Director for Latino Giant, I’ve had the privilege to hear many different stories about perseverance and dedication, as well as meet inspirational individuals throughout the U.S. who are helping others to achieve goals and what we refer to as the American Dream. Every time I hear a story or meet an individual, the first people that come to mind are my parents. I was beyond fortunate to have two individuals at home to not only teach me right from wrong, but give me the tools needed to be a passionate, educated Latino in this country. My father and mother are the reasons why I am a Latino Giant. Now, why are you a Latino Giant?
Roberto Valdez is the Communications Director for Latino Giant. Roberto is also Communications Manager for Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) whose vision is to increase the Hispanic health workforce and increase Hispanic health research done in the United States. Roberto graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Communications and Media Analysis. Mr. Valdez is a marketing, public/media relations and social media consultant for numerous organizations in the Washington DC area and Arizona. He is also a sports strategist for high school and college level teams.