I was Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan and raised in the bi-national community of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua; a metropolis with over a million residents. Large in size, the two cities have small-town vibe. For a young man like myself, I felt the community had nothing else to offer me. By the age of 17, I was ready to enter the world. I was a rising senior at my high school and looking forward to college. After a long and thought-out vetting process, I decided to enroll in St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
As an undergraduate, I thrived academically , socially and civically. I served the State of Texas during the 83rd Legislature; served the student body as a student government executive; volunteered for political campaigns; worked as a researcher at St. Mary’s University and Columbia University, the latter providing me with the opportunity to live in New York. Following my time in the Big Apple, I studied abroad in London , England.
Many other experiences marked my life, but nothing comes close to the time I spent in Western Europe and the Northeastern United States. Assimilating into different cultures taught me the importance of being a global citizen. In a way, borders and geopolitical divisions began to erase from my psyche. I began to see humanity as a single race. The patrimony between the citizens and their respective countries gave them an identity. Despite the unique identities of the countries I visited, their cultures made me feel welcomed, and I became part of their communities.
Young and adventurous, El Paso and Juarez were not on my radar. My community was a distant memory in an abyss of thrill and fun nights. However, upon returning to my hometown after finishing my undergraduate studies, I found out how rich in spirit and culture El Paso and Juarez are. As cities on the rise, I now see what a privilege it was to have grown up here. El Paso’s working class culture and residents make those who visit feel welcomed and at home. Juarez’ fast paced and vibrant lifestyle attract businesses and visitors from all over the United States and Mexico. The cities are separated by a river, but are joined by a fraternal bond between their citizens.