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Spotlight on Commerce: Sabrina Montes, Lead Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Guest blog post by Sabrina Montes, Lead Economist, Economics and Statistics Administration

I’m a lead economist specializing in public policy within the Office of the Chief Economist in the Economics and Statistics Administration, and I joined the Commerce Department in 1995. Currently, I lead a team of five economists who focus on areas that are critical to our nation’s competitiveness such as emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles.

My undergraduate degree is from the University of California at Davis where I did a double major in economics and English. In addition, I earned a Master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

During my twenty-plus years at Commerce I’ve had the pleasure of both learning from and collaborating with top-notch economists and policymakers. Public policy issues are frequently complex and challenging; and I feel lucky to work with talented people — from political appointees, career public servants to dedicated interns — all of whom are drawn to examining those policy challenges.

I grew up in many cities around the country. My father, who is Mexican-American, worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And based on his career path, our family moved every couple of years when I was a child. In fact, I noticed the only children who moved more frequently than my brothers and me were children of military parents. With that in mind, I believe the locations that contributed the most to who I am today are New Mexico (where I lived during my high school years) as well as California (where I was born and still have a lot of family).

I saw a great deal of the nation when I was growing up, usually from the back seat of a car traveling down Interstates 80 or 40. The United States is a beautiful country that draws strength from both its diversity and its unity. Celebrations of diversity – like Hispanic Heritage Month – give us the opportunity to recognize the many cultures that are part of the melting pot that is the United States.

Ours is a nation of enormous potential. The best advice I would give to Hispanic/Latino youth – and all young people – is to make the most of educational opportunities. Education isn’t a spectator sport. Do the analysis. Write the code. Build the gadget. Design the space. Engage in the negotiation. Compose the music. The things that you learn hands-on and down-in-the-weeds are often the most valuable.