By Juan Madrigal
In celebration of National Library Week, Cal Poly Pomona students, faculty and staff gathered on April 18 as former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis shared her story and discussed how she brought changes to the face of politics.
A graduate of La Puente High School, Solis said people oftentimes scoffed at the idea of one day attending college.
Nevertheless, she never gave up and worked hard to accomplish her goals and bring stability to her family, who have always been her biggest supporters and the ones who stressed the importance of education. In fact, they were the ones who taught her that everything starts with a seed, and that seed will flourish sooner than later.
In 1979, Solis earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from CPP, and in 1981 she earned a master’s degree in public administration from University of Southern California.
By attending and graduating from college, Solis broke many stigmas attached to minority students and women. In her family, this success transcended every expectation her parents had of her, and it had a snowball effect on her siblings.
Approximately 75 people attended the event and as Solis gave her speech, the audience smiled, nodded at what she said and at times, laughed at the funny stories.
Danny Lopez, a first-year political science student, said he had been looking forward to this event for weeks and was very excited that the day had finally come.
“As a future politician, I look up to [Solis] so much because she never let anything get in her way and she worked very hard to get to the very top,” said Lopez. “Hearing her story is admirable and it’s not every day that she shares her personal story with Cal Poly students.”
Solis also offered plenty of advice for the students to ensure success. She stressed the importance of internships and building relationships with those around us. She also told students to work hard, challenge themselves, and be active in their communities.
“Don’t always be satisfied with what other people tell you… what they think you ought to be or what you ought to fulfill,” said Solis.
She said many women are often told not to go into math and science because it’s too hard and they won’t be able to sustain that.
“We can do anything we have a drive for,” said Solis.
She urged students to be involved at CPP and in their communities because the experience and the people you meet along the way will help you be one step ahead from everyone else.
“It’s not just about your education, but about the experiences,” said Solis.
For her, it has always been about having a strong work ethic. She said that if you work hard you will eventually see it all pay off, and the personal gratification you receive from that is priceless and no one can ever take that away.
As the first Latina California state senator, she authored more than a dozen state laws in order to diminish domestic violence and in the U.S. House, she pushed a law to train workers for “green-collar” jobs in an environmentally-friendly economy.
Solis is a recognized leader on clean energy jobs, and attributed her passion and drive to the seed that was first cultivated at CPP.
After Solis’s speech, there was a Q&A session where she was asked about implementing more going green initiatives as well as her plans for the future.
Although Solis is happy to be back at CPP as a scholar in residence, she looks forward to her future and the opportunity to work in Los Angeles County.
Solis shares her CPP story
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