Mediaplanet: How has your culture shaped your success?

Ricardo Rocha: Coming from a Mexican background has been one of my biggest advantages. I often thought of my culture as a barrier but as of late, I have learned that this is the part of me that gives me strength. I believe that coming out of my shell and exploring corners away from my culture has given me the confidence I have today and the confidence I will need to succeed tomorrow. My culture has also instilled great values by which I live by. I was always taught to work hard for what you want; I learned that very early on working alongside my father. I was shown that this was a way of life and that there wasn’t a way around that. My culture is known to work hard against adversity and that is something that pushes me forward. It shapes the way I think and who I am as a person, not just academically but in all other aspects of life.

MP: Was there one figure in your life who you would call your mentor or role model? And how did this person help you?

"My advice would be to set sights on something great, shoot high, and don’t be scared of standing alone because one day many will follow."

RR: My cousin Leonardo. He sponsored my legal status and asked that in return I would have to change my life.  He expects great things from me and I can’t bear the thought of ever disappointing someone who has helped me this much throughout these years. I can’t disappoint the person who has given me a second chance. He took the time to show me the ropes. He started this whole thing.

MP: What advice do you have for other Latinos about education and achieving professional success?

RR: Working for the College Assistant Migrant Program, The Summer Scholars Program and The Brother to Brother Program has allowed me to mentor a great number of students. Most of them are Latino students and I always ask them to picture themselves accomplishing something great and to think about all of the people who work hard to give them this opportunity. I ask them to take advantage of it and pay it back by achieving success. I encourage them to set small milestones to ensure that the task at hand is not an overwhelming one. College for some of us seems like something that is unreachable and I ask the students that I work with to break that chain that’s holding them back and make choices that will help them accomplish amazing things. My advice would be to set sights on something great, shoot high, and don’t be scared of standing alone because one day many will follow.