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The United States has a strong history of immigration and it is a melting pot of cultures. As a result it has become a nation composed of different races and different peoples coming from different ethnic backgrounds. This has impacted American society in terms of the economy, the peace and order situation, employment, and the education system.
These things are constantly interacting to create opportunities and problems for all US citizens. However, there are those who were able to assimilate and there are others who failed. In recent decades – in spite of the rhetoric on equal opportunity for all Americans – numerous studies show that minorities are in a disadvantage.
Two major ethnic groups, the African Americans and Hispanics are finding it hard to succeed in a highly competitive world and the root cause why many of them are poor, unemployed and involved in a life of crime is not just the lack of resources and the lack of opportunity but the absence of the desire to succeed.
Thus, the story of real-life models like Lt. Col. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch must be told as frequently as possible so that children from underprivileged homes must not give up in their struggle to find their place in the land of the brave and free.
Poverty is Not an Excuse
Kickbusch was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. In fact, she was born and raised in an unknown barrio along the border of Laredo, Texas. She was surrounded with the usual problems that has brought down many people to the point of desperation and compelled many to give up their dreams. She has an intimate knowledge of poverty. Her family struggled to provide and feed for all the Castillo children.
It was therefore a constant grind and daily struggle just to get through the day. Other children from affluent families worry about the things that they might get on Christmas and worry about their video games. But the Castillo children including Consuelo have to worry about more serious issues in life.
Aside from poverty, the young Consuelo Castillo had to deal with the consequences of discrimination. She also had to deal with the impact of illiteracy around her. A child growing up in a poor neighborhood and growing up surrounded by children who find no reason to strive hard in their studies is prone to simply go with the flow. But the young Consuelo Castillo went against the grain so-to-speak and decided to study well.
Although the Castillo family was a poor immigrant family, Consuelo Castillo’s parents showered her with non-material gifts and it was knowledge about their Mexican heritage, and the values, traditions, and faith that would have helped guider her throughout her life.
Desperate Need for Role Models
America is the land of the brave and free, as well as the land of opportunities. In addition, America is supposed to be a land wherein resources are managed in the most efficient manner. The ideal scenario therefore is to have public schools so that poor children have access to quality education.
According to one commentary, “The public schools exist to build an American community, to help both newcomers and native-born children prepare for adulthood as fellow citizens … The ultimate democratic lesson is human equality, and the schools must teach our children that we are all in the same boat, all members of one society, regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin.” Therefore, even children of immigrants are supposed to assimilate and acquire quality education.
In an ideal world, Latinos and Mexican immigrants should expect a bright future. However, the present reality does not support this claim. Aside from financial troubles children of immigrant families who are unable to assimilate to the U.S. education system are also hampered by other factors. Mexican and Latino children must have a role model that would remind them that quality education is within their reach.
They should realize that Consuelo Castillo did not allow the barriers and the trials to keep her away from her dreams. She did not only completed her High School diploma, she went to complete her college degree at the Hardin Simmons University.
The things that she did after she graduated from college is the reason why she will become a fantastic role model for many disadvantaged children. After earning a college degree, Consuelo Castillo served as an officer in the U.S. Army. She did not only became a Hispanic female officer in the Army, which was a rare feat during those days, she also became the highest-ranking Hispanic woman in the Combat Support Field of the U.S. Army.
During her two decades service as a career military officer, Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch earned many decorations. One of her most memorable and significant distinction was the Legion of Merit. In addition, she also received the National Defense Service Medal. She was honored to have received the Meritorious Service Medal four times. She also received the Army Achievement Medal two times.
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After 22 years of dedicated service and after earning the rank of a lieutenant colonel, she could have rested on her laurels but she did something that surprised her peers and leadership of the U.S. Army because at her prime she decided to end her career because of the Army.
In the year 1996, after retirement from the Marine Corps, she moved to San Antonio, Texas and decided that her life is for the service of others. She founded a non-profit group called the Educational Achievement Services, Inc.
She revealed later on that her decision to retire early was because of the need to honor her mother’s wishes that she must serve and give back to the community. Through the EAS, the non-profit group she founded, Kickbusch was able to learn how to become a motivational speaker. Her skills as a speaker gave her the opportunity to influence the lives of many people.
Lt. Col. Kickbusch is not only able to influence the lives of poor Hispanic children and adults, she also became a sought after speaker and spoke to different groups of people. For example, she could talk to employees of a Fortune 500 company like IBM but at the same time she could also reach out to children living in the poorest neighborhoods in America.
She would always tell her audience that they should perform to the best of their abilities and they must not give up after the first signs of trouble that they encounter during their journey to personal development. Aside from promoting values and the need to instill a positive outlook in the lives of her audience, Kickbush also strived to present to them a message about diversity.
Lt. Col. Kickbusch tells her clients that their companies will benefit from applying the principles of diversity. She said that the workplace must embrace diversity. She said that diversity enables corporate leaders to tap into different sets of talents and capabilities.
Lt. Col. Kickbusch reiterates her message of hope and inspires people to leave a legacy. She teaches the value of leadership to an organization. However, her main goal is to help the youth of America to rise up and overcome the obstacles that came their way. She could easily command the respect and admiration of her audience because she could point to specific stories in her life wherein she demonstrated her desire to win against all odds.
Aside from her military awards, Lt. Col. Kickbusch was given the Latina Leadership Excellence Award. Her most recent distinction came from a group called Hispanic Business and the group said that she was included in the 100 most influential Hispanics in America.
Through the years, Lt. Col. Kickbusch offers struggling youth a message of hope. She has become a positive role model for many disadvantaged children of America through the Yo Soy El Army National Motivation Youth Tour. She tells them that there is a way out through leadership, determination and integrity.
All American Speakers. “Biography of Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch.” 2012. Web.
Hardin-Simmons University, “Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch,” 2012. Web.
Ravitch, Diane. “Diversity, Tragedy, and the Schools: A Considered Option.” The Brookings Institution. 2002. Web.
Rochin, Refugion & Stephen Mello. “Latinos in Science: Trends and Opportunities.” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 6, no. 4 (2007): 305-355.
US Congress. Congressional Record. Washington, D.C.: GAO Publications, 2004.
- Refugion Rochin & Stephen Mello, “Latinos in Science: Trends and Opportunities,” Journal of Hispanic Higher Education 6, no. 4 (2007): 305.
- Diane Ravitch, “Diversity, Tragedy, and the Schools: A Considered Option,” The Brookings Institution, 2002.
- All American Speakers, “Biography of Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch,” 2012.
- Hardin-Simmons University, “Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch,” 2012.
- US Congress, Congressional Record (Washington, D.C.: GAO Publications, 2004), 7511-7512.