An urban Greek myth suggests that Alexander the Great valued the contribution of his mentor Aristotle more so who gave him knowledge than  his father who gave him life.  I value the contribution of my mentor who was my  high school  teacher, life mentor and friend–Diane Howard.  She taught me much in terms of three values that I  hold dear:  integrity, hard work, and an appreciation for the arts.  

Diane pushed me the moment she saw my very first speech as a freshmen in  her class.  I talked about the wonder I had for Houdini–one of the greatest magicians of all time.  She told me that she was impressed because I had taken the effort to memorize the speech and it was obvious I was passionate about the subject.  She became my forensics coach and believed in my ability to interpret works of prose and drama.  It was through drama and forensics that I discovered my love for theater and the field of communications.

She invited me to join a group of students to take a  trip to San Francisco and Ashland, Oregon to see professional theater productions.  I saw my first show at the Curran Theater in San Francisco–A Chorus Line.  I was awe struck and moved by the beauty of the music and the deep-felt passion of the stories of the striving actors.   The following year I was exposed to Edward Albee and Athol Fugard at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  My early exposure to theater influenced my career choices and my support of the arts.  I am currently sit on the Arlington County Commission for the Arts and the Alliance Theater Board.  I am also a judge for the Helen Hayes Awards in Washington, DC.  I have seen theater productions around the world and my passion for the arts has never waned since that first trip to San Francisco.  

Diane also instilled me the necessity for  hard work.  This was reinforced by my mother as they were both single mothers who struggled to provide for their children.  Their efforts paid off and I truly appreciate a work ethic that emphasizes a balance between giving back to the community and an appreciation for family and friends.

Lastly, Diane emphasized the importance of integrity at every level of our existence.  To this day we talk about the importance of being consistent between our words and deeds.  I try to be a model to younger generations, especially young Latinos.  I encourage growth in others and I have taken on the role of mentor to members of our Toastmaster family.  Nothing makes me happier than to watch others grow and to continue the practice of good mentorship.  I am most fortunate that I had a strong mentor growing up who has been a life long friend and teacher.  

I encourage all Toastmasters to share their appreciation for their mentor and to become a mentor for others.