I was brought up by two hard working and vigorous Latino migrant parents, Vicente and Maria, who dedicated their lives to providing their children a better future.
My dad was always on the job, working in orchards, landscaping, anything and everything that he was given the opportunity to do.
I remember one cool late afternoon when I was sitting on my father’s lap, I took his hands into mine. They were rough and worn, so unlike my soft and smooth hands.
I looked up at him and asked, “Dad will my hands get this way when I work?” He laughed and said, “No, Marina, you’ll be an important person who won’t have to get her hands dirty.”
Ever since that day when my dad spoke those words, it stuck.
Before I knew it I was attending Walla Walla High School and getting involved in many school activities: sports, clubs, camps and conferences. I still maintained a good grade-point-average, and my mentors and parents continuously urged me to take advantage of any opportunities available to me. So that was exactly what I did.
My freshman year I was the representative for students in my school, but the leadership position that had more of an impact on me was being the Walla Walla High School Latino Club president in my junior and senior years. This position not only allowed me to help others but also to learn a lot about myself.
I wrote the above words as a high school student at Walla Walla High School just getting ready to graduate in 2008. Looking back on what I wrote in high school, I am reminded that my involvement in school was fueled by my eagerness to attend college — for college was the Holy Grail.
My leadership roles in school and as the president of Latino Club helped create a vision for my future that led to a network of people who motivated me and made sure I got to college.
What I didn’t understand then was that college is not the end but the beginning of an intellectual awakening. It is there that we explore and understand the potential roles we can play in our society.
I am aware of that college does not necessarily guarantee financial success or make you an “important person,” but the knowledge and consciousness it creates can be more powerful than anything money can buy.
As an educated professional, I am now aware of the obligation I have toward my community, and I don’t mean just toward the Latino community but toward the community as a whole.
It seems like a lot of us forget that as time goes by. We are so focused on our own personal agendas that we forget how vital we are to improving our society.
I urge students to get involved and be a little more curious about what the future holds for them.
I also remind current professionals of the important role we play in positively impacting our local communities.
Marina Marin is 2008 graduate of Walla Walla High School. She was the president of Latino Club for two years. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in finance from Washington State University. She has studied abroad at Chiang Mai University and the University of Barcelona. Marina is currently a financial representative with Northwestern Mutual in Walla Walla.