Blog post by Diana Moreno, Attorney-Advisor, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, a town located right on the United States-Mexico border. My parents moved permanently from Juarez, Mexico to El Paso when I was just a toddler. The city’s unique culture and diversity has helped cultivate me into the person that I am today, a proud Chicana (Mexican-American). El Paso is truly unlike any other city. Despite its size, the city maintains its small-town persona, filled with culture and diversity with a strong sense of community. El Paso effortlessly combines its rich Mexican and American history, honoring festivals and celebrations from both countries. It is not uncommon to attend a Super Bowl Party or Thanksgiving Dinner and have Mexican dishes served. We cheer for soccer and football teams with equal fervor.
Despite my immense love for my hometown, I always had a deep desire to be a part of something greater. There were numerous times, however, that I doubted that a girl with my background, who lived in government housing for a large part of her life, could ever achieve her goals. Though the journey was difficult, I successfully became the first in my family, immediate and extended, to earn an undergraduate and graduate degree. I also became the first professional in my family. I graduated with a Juris Doctorate from American University Washington College of Law in 2012. After spending a few years in New Orleans, Louisiana, I returned to the DC area to re-spark my law career. This led to me earning a post-graduate law degree, or LL.M, in Intellectual Property from The George Washington University Law School.
I started at NTIA as an intern at the Office of Chief Counsel during my final law school semester. Shortly after graduation, I was appointed as a permanent staff member. Working at NTIA has given me an opportunity to combine my love of technology and the law. I get to “geek out” and work in a truly innovative environment where our efforts have a direct impact. More importantly, I am surrounded by passionate telecommunications experts who care about making a positive difference for the American people. Together, we enable broadband accessibility, promote technological advancements, and impact policy for the greater good. My work also provides me with a great opportunity to refine my legal skills at a much broader scale.
I owe a significant part of my success and accomplishments to my parents. They did what they could to ensure that my brother and I could obtain everything they could never achieve growing up. Throughout my life, my father worked as a custodian, window washer, and shipping laborer, while my mother worked graveyard shifts at a textile factory and, later, at a local Walmart deli department. They both worked jobs that were extremely hard on their bodies. I strive for bigger and better things so that I can continue making them proud.
My story is not unique, especially in the Latinx community. There are many individuals who grow up with the same background but often lack the encouragement and resources needed to achieve their dreams. It is because of this that I dedicate my free time to building supportive and empowering environments for fellow minorities. I serve as a Board Member and Programming Co-chair of the Latinas in Tech – DC Metro Chapter, and I am currently working towards establishing a Hispanic Employment Resource Group (ERG) at the Department of Commerce with the help of some amazing individuals at the Office of Civil Rights.
Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month is just an extension of daily life in my hometown, but at a grander scale. The celebration honors the true tapestry of American history by honoring the contributions of Latinx individuals. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates often-forgotten contributions and inspires all Latinx to continue making a difference. In the words of an amazing Latina, Wendy Martinez: “don’t let your circumstances define you. Let’s empower each other to succeed.”
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce Hispanic employees in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15--October 15).