Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. This year’s Department of Defense Education Activity theme is: “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.”
Defense Logistics Agency Energy is highlighting employees of Hispanic heritage throughout the month in honor of their enduring contributions to the agency’s global mission of logistics support to America’s warfighters.
Name: Lorena Montenegro
Organization: DLA Energy Europe & Africa
Years of Service: 13 years
What is your ethnicity? Mexican-American
What is your job title, and what do you do, specifically? I am a DLA Energy Liaison Officer, working under the DLA Energy Europe & Africa International Agreements team, for Spain, Greece and Portugal. I serve as the fuel expert and point of contact to the Spanish/Greek/Portuguese military organizations and U.S. DoD service component customers/activities operating within the host nations. Specifically, I oversee DLA Energy’s fuel agreements with our foreign military partners to ensure continued support of DoD customer requirements.
What do you like most about your job? I most enjoy being able to witness the support we bring to the warfighter directly in the region. Getting an opportunity to visit customer locations and witness how our fuel agreements support their requirements and fuel their vehicles, aircrafts and ships is a very rewarding experience.
What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago? To take more risks and always follow your passions. You can only grow from mistakes, and if you are doing something you are passionate about these failures will only be lessons along your path.
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone? Surround yourself with good mentors and friends and seek opportunities to diversify yourself and continue learning.
What personal accomplishments are you most proud of? I am most proud of continuing higher education and completing my master’s in supply chain management with honors. Growing up first generation with parents from Mexico my only aspiration was to go to college, let alone graduate from postgraduate school. Through the opportunities afforded to me by the DoD I was able to accomplish this personal goal.
If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? When you do something, do it “con ganas.” Growing up, my mother would often say this phrase to me when she would take me to help her clean houses during the summer. She not only did this to help her out but also to teach me valuable life lessons. One was that if I didn’t get an education, I’d have a similar job to hers; and two was that regardless of the job or task at hand to do it “con ganas.” Meaning, to do something with passion, spirit and wholeheartedly. I’ve applied this often used phrase by my parents in my own life and when I do something whether it’s pursuing my career or sweeping the floor, I do it “con ganas.”
What do you think about when you hear Hispanic Heritage Month? Recognizing the individuals of Hispanic origin that have contributed and shaped the United States.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today and how can understanding history help us to overcome them? Representation of Hispanic Americans and their contributions, even though they account for the largest minority group and have been part of America as far back as the 16th century, remains a challenge. Including and learning about Hispanic Americans and how they have contributed and shaped the U.S., as part of U.S. history, is a start to overcoming this challenge.
How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life? They have instilled in me perseverance and a strong work ethic, which has shaped me into the person I am today. In addition, I am grateful for my Mexican roots to have grown with the opportunity to travel there and learn the language and culture which I often rely on presently.