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News | Oct. 7, 2021

Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Waleska Rodriguez Diaz

By Hispanic Employment Program DLA Land and Maritime

The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month each year from September 15th to October 15th.  The Hispanic Employment Program 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.


What is your position title and role? I’m a contracting officer and basic contract administrator for long term contracts in the Strategic Acquisition Programs Directorate. I administer bilateral government contracts for various contractors and dollar value. I’m responsible for reviewing new contracts to ensure all necessary clauses have been included and monitoring contractor performance for compliance with applicable laws, delivery schedules, payment provisions, contract data reporting requirements and other contractual requirements. Basically, I perform the full range of contract functions up to the point of recommending final closeout.


How long have you worked for the federal government including military service? How long have you worked for L&M and how did you get your start here? I have 24 years of government service. I started in 1993 in a student program at the General Service Administration in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Later on, I worked for the Small Business Administration Disaster Division as a collateral cashier. After seven years, the agency transferred their services to Alabama. Even though I accepted the transfer and worked in Alabama for one year, the transition was hard for my family and I had to resign. I moved back to Puerto Rico and started my master’s degree as I continued to seek employment within the federal government. At that moment, my second child was born with special needs. My goal was to find employment in a state or area with a good children’s hospital nearby and that became my daily prayer. One day I was throwing away a local newspaper when I saw a job announcement with the Defense Logistics Agency in Columbus. I remembered, as soon as I read Columbus, Ohio, I felt in my heart that I would move here. I started my career with DLA in 2009 as a former corporate intern. 


How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life?  Being Hispanic is my essence more than title. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. As Puerto Ricans, we get the best of two worlds – we’re proud Americans and Hispanics. My grandparents from both sides moved from the country to the city to seek employment with the new industries arriving to the island. Their goal was to provide for their children and give them a better future. They were hard workers, as most Hispanics are, with a minimal education but with big goals and dreams. My parents, as Christians, taught me love, compassion and care for people. I would never forget their daily advice as I live by it, “Treat everyone how you want to be treated, live with integrity in all that you do.”


What do you think about when you hear National Hispanic Heritage Month? It makes me happy that we, as a nation, celebrate the contributions and influence of Hispanics and Hispanic Americans. I think and feel very proud of each Hispanic who has worked very hard to create bridges for future generations. I think of the many positive things that are yet to come for our people and nation overall. 


How do we make our Hispanic Heritage part of our daily lives and not just confine it to a date or month every year? Always be you and proud of who you are and where you come from. Embrace and share your family traditions with others on a daily basis: at work, church and within your community. As a Hispanic American we have the responsibility to make a positive difference in our society, celebrate our culture and keep our traditions alive. 


Who are some people of Hispanic heritage you admire? I admire all educators who work in the education fields, those who are very committed with their responsibilities. Those who decided to make a difference for a child or youth when they’re growing up with many questions in their mind and need someone to direct their path. Educators who put a seed of hope, self-confidence and self-value into their students. Those who make a child feel special and an important part of their school and community. I personally have a special admiration for my paternal grandmother, Eulogia Colon. She became a widow at a young age with five kids. My grandfather died right after the Great Depression. She was illiterate – unfortunately her father did not allow her to go to school – but she was so smart. She was good with numbers and knew how to budget. Her determination, tenacity and hard work helped her to survive those difficult times and be the breadwinner for her kids. She always talked to me about the importance of education. She put the seed on my mind that I am worthy, capable of reaching my dreams and goals, and to always believe in myself. God blessed me with the best grandma in the world. Gracias, Abuela Mami!


In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today?  Has history taught us anything to help us overcome them? Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you read history, we Hispanics and Hispanic Americans have been great contributors for the development of this great nation. However, over the years our positive contributions have been overlooked by many. If we really want a better nation, we need to start in our local community by standing up together, showing respect for each other and promoting equal education. We must be a part of the change that we want to see in “our world.” Our children deserve a brighter future, equal opportunities and historical recognition for everything they’re about to accomplish. Jesus, our Lord, said, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.” Together we can make a difference now and forever!


What is a Hispanic tradition you intend to pass down, that your parents have passed down to you? The Hispanic culture is focused on we, not me centered. We enjoy having company and a good time with family and friends. But my parents taught me that we, as a community, must be one in good or bad times and to be willing to extend a helping hand to anyone in need. As a mother of two young men, I have taught them the same and hope the same goes on for generations to come.


If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be? Do your best and leave the rest to God!


What do you enjoy the most about your line of work? It’s an honor to assist all the men and women within the Department of Defense’s lines of duty. I lost a first cousin in the Gulf War in 1991, he was a Marine and only 28 years old. This makes me carry a burden because I know how serious my job is.  I enjoy that I get to use my skills while serving the defense community and honoring those who have served. Warfighters first!