In honor of the veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country, CHCI 2016-17 Public Policy Fellow, Stephanie Flores Loor, shares her thoughts on leadership, how the Navy shaped her as an individual, and the intersectionalities that make her a unique part of our community.
Becoming a citizen of the United States meant leaving my family behind in order to help them survive one of Ecuador’s worst financial crises in the nation’s history. It meant sacrifice.
Working long hours, including overnight shifts and holidays, meant not enough sleep and making the necessary extra effort to achieve my goals. It meant compromise and resilience.
People who tried, but failed, to discourage me from speaking Spanish, taught me how to be versatile. It meant adaptability.
Enduring long weeks out at sea as a service member in the US Navy meant hard work, feeling lonely and missing my family. But it also meant I would exercise compassion while fulfilling a humanitarian relief mission with my team. It meant a sense of duty and purpose.
The characteristics mentioned above, developed through my experience, are not mine exclusively. These are traits that I share with millions of other immigrants living in America.
We left our countries of origin because we want a better quality of life for our families, friends and neighbors. We strive to create a just, caring and empathetic America. Our purpose is to shape our own future and to express ourselves freely while embracing our diverse identities. As a veteran who served to protect our freedoms, an immigrant who came to this country because of its unique promise of prosperity for those who work hard, and a bilingual woman who is ready to lead and serve the community with love, I am proud of my intersectionalities.
During this election cycle, I witnessed the identities of my fellow Latinos under assault; It hurt me deeply. My community has survived the heartbreak of our culture and values being distorted by hateful rhetoric and our voices suppressed for far too long. This past week, I responded to these attacks by using my hard-earned right to vote in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I voted for what makes me an American: The commonality of the struggle I share with my brothers and sisters who are in pursuit of the American Dream. I voted for those resilient individuals who sacrifice, compromise and devote themselves to their communities on a daily basis. I voted for our ancestors who paved the way for us to have the right to work for a better life.
I cast my ballot thinking of those who cannot vote but are making meaningful contributions to our nation. It is up to us to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves, achieve their goals, and fight for equality and social justice.
On this Veterans’ Day, I’m proud of my service to this country, my Latina roots and my love for my community. I am a proud American.
Stephanie Flores Loor
CHCI Public Policy Fellow (2016-17)