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By Rocio Tua.
MPA 2018 Candidate
Women in Public Policy Oval Program
Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Corporate America’s executive leadership lacks diversity. Minority representation is lacking in elected government offices. With all the challenges that this reality presents, I am hopeful and optimistic about all the rich leadership opportunities that I will take on as a young Latina professional in this country.

Rocio visiting Sheikh Zayed Mosque while on a solo trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi after Fall Semester finals

Being Latina means being American and Latin American at the same time. I am not one without the other and that’s what makes growing up Latina in this country very special. We are building this nation with a new voice, growing economic presence and embracing our LatAm values as we lead in our respective industries. Researchers estimate that by 2020 Latinos in the United States will contribute to approximately a quarter of GDP growth, representing nearly 13 percent of the country’s total GDP, and we will represent nearly a quarter of the total population by 2040. Latinas are representing $1 trillion in spending and $7 trillion in purchasing power among U.S. women.

From an education perspective, Latinas have made dramatic progress, as college enrollment rates outpace both non-Hispanic whites and African Americans. These are exciting figures and trends, but there is a wealth of work in front of us. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, women in the workforce full-time are paid 80 cents for every dollar paid to men. Latinas are paid approximately 54 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. As I tackle this national problem, I decided to join the Harvard Kennedy School community for the tools, relationships and leadership opportunities that will support me in closing this disparity.

My current journey at Harvard has been daily travel trips to diverse cultures, perspectives and experiences. I was born in Queens, NY, a magical place that celebrates the rainbow of countries represented by immigrants from around the globe. Claimed the most ethnically diverse place on the planet, Queens has been one of my key shapers to my appreciation of this world’s beauty and struggles. Being part of the Harvard Kennedy School community, I have the ability to embrace in the dialogue and exchange of ideas of our planet’s most pressing problems.

Annual Hasty Pudding Theatrical, February 2018.

India Trek, December 2017.

I have had the opportunity to learn from Presidents and CEOs alike and learn from subject matter experts in an array of fields, including technology, media, diplomacy, government, entrepreneurship and financial services. It has also been a year of profound introspection that will allow me to become a better influencer, manager and leader once I return back to the workforce.

Perhaps, my greatest lesson at Harvard has been that the Latino experience is a new story. Not that our parents or those who migrated decades before us aren’t part of it, but because they are the prelude of the national shift that we will face this decade. They have positioned the Latino millennial segment to its current seats. It is now our job to rise up to those positions of leadership where our representation is absolutely required.

Rocio Tua is currently a candidate for the Master’s in Public Administration degree at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She spent the past 10 years in the financial services industry and is now enjoying her graduate studies and the creative process as she re-imagines the future of the U.S. Latino experience.

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