Legacy leadership defines leadership as not solely for the advancement of oneself, but intentionally for the advancement of others—particularly women and people from underrepresented groups. It entails proactively using your platform at every career and life stage to lead by example with intentional inclusivity, empower others in their own advancement and create social value.
This blog series showcases stories by recent graduates on how they are pursuing legacy leadership in their careers through an intentionally inclusive lens and commitment to social impact.
“Mijo, ven aquí! (My son, come here!)” my father said one day. “Recuerda lo que siempre te digo: En este gran futuro no debes olvidar tu pasado (Remember what I always tell you: In this great future you must not forget your past).” Now I know what you are likely thinking: that’s a line from Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry. And while I agree that it most certainly is, as an awkward seventeen-year-old ready to set off for college, I was less aware of Bob Marley’s genius, nor my father’s proclivity for quoting Bob Marley in Spanish for dramatic effect.
My father, was an immigrant from Honduras—a nation that, despite its stunning landscape, experienced violence and poverty. The arduous journey he made to the United States with his family at the age of 12 hardened him, and seemingly gave him license to provide nuggets of wisdom as he prepared platanos maduros (fried plantains) in the kitchen—our favorite snack. In retrospect, I now appreciate the urgency in my father’s voice and the wisdom of Bob Marley’s lyrics: as the first person in my family to graduate high school and go to college, I had a moral imperative to use my life to proactively create educational opportunities for others, especially low-income and inner-city youth.
My desire to promote higher education reform among minority youth was fortified by my own lived experience. I remember the crowded classrooms, teacher absenteeism and inconsistency that far too often characterized public schooling in Queens, NY. Fortunately, my parochial schooling gave me access to Regis—a college preparatory and free high school for low-income young boys in New York City.
My high school empowered me to think critically about the socio-economic issues that surrounded me and envision myself as an agent of change within my community. On the other hand, my brother’s experience at a local public school, marred by inconsistency and a lack of resources, reflected the challenges that many students in urban settings experience across the U.S. Although my educational experience demonstrates the power of a strong education, my brother’s schooling experience and his untimely death serve as a haunting reminder of the great strides that we must take to extend access to such opportunity, particularly to the most vulnerable of our youth.
I am the proud son of an immigrant who worked tirelessly to give his children access to an education that comes with the promise of “el sueño americano” (The American dream). My family background has largely shaped my passion for education, my eagerness to surpass expectations and my drive to empower others. That desire to influence learning at scale brought me to LAAF.org, which dedicates itself to creating free and high-quality giving and leadership education resources and programs. This commitment to incessant learning, purpose and evolution drives not merely the creation of our resources, but also the very fabric of our organization’s culture. Working at LAAF.org inspired me to embrace these values in a variety of ways: from learning and implementing innovative pedagogy to supporting our founder as she created case studies, teaching notes and learning notes for her Stanford Graduate School of Business courses. Perhaps more importantly, LAAF.org’s focus on empowerment and creating measurable and lasting social change has helped me refine and define my sense of purpose. LAAF.org has further prepared me to use my teaching skills and inclusive lens to create lasting impact as a high school educator. By leading in the classroom, I plan to create and live my legacy of empowerment every day. LAAF.org has equipped me with the confidence and passion to teach in a way that matters more.
Ensuring a college education for youth in an increasingly educated labor market is fundamental to enhancing the quality of life of the urban underclass. The culmination of my lived, personal and professional experience has instilled within me, an unwavering passion to increase access to higher education among urban youth. My pursuit of educational equity is therefore, not merely a testament to my hard work and the countless sacrifices my father made on our behalf, but also a poignant homage to my brother; I will dedicate my life to ensuring that every student I work with feels loved, seen and empowered to create a life for themselves that is filled with promise, success and joy. Through my work as an educator, I will ensure that in my great future, I will “not forget [my] past.”