COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Editor’s Note: The Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month each September. We are 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 am the First-Line Customer Relationship Specialist Supervisor in support of Army and Marine Corps Operating Forces in Land Customer Operations. I supervise a diverse group of 36 employees that include, Customer Account Specialists, Service Members, and Supply Technicians.
What do you think about when you hear Hispanic Heritage Month?
It’s the time to reflect on the Hispanic heritage, rich culture and most important on the individual contributions to our communities.
Who are some people of Hispanic heritage you admire?
My grandmother Olga, taught me what unconditional love is, born in a low-income family, she didn’t have the opportunities I had growing up. She didn’t have much, but she gave it all, there is no better teaching than that. My father, Jose Angel, taught me what true success is. He was born and raised in Havana Cuba and owned a textile fabric and shoes factory. He lost everything during the Fidel Revolution, left Cuba in the 1950's and started over as a gas station attendant. He quickly gained the trust of his boss and started running the business’ accounting requirements. He saw an opportunity in each situation to reach higher. He became a renowned businessperson in Old San Juan from 1970 to 1990. His perseverance, creativity, and raising through the challenges inspires me. He was able to give his family a humble life with lots of opportunities.
In your opinion, what challenges remain for Hispanic Americans today and how can understanding history help us to overcome them?
Understanding the Hispanic background and history, in my opinion, one of the challenges will be overcoming the perception of limitation. Regardless of our background, heritage, experiences, understanding and the consciousness, the only limitation we have is the limitation we put on ourselves.
How long have you worked for the federal government including military service?
I have worked for the federal government for 10 years.
How long have you worked for L&M and how did you get your start here?
Ten years total. I’ve worked four years as a Customer Account Specialist for Maritime Customer Operations and six years as a First-Line Customer Relationship Specialist Supervisor for Land Customer Operations.
Who would you say was your greatest influence in choosing your career?
The pride to serve my Nation.
What is your favorite thing about your line of work?
I enjoy that every day is different and has its own challenges. I love working with people and providing superb customer support.
How has your family’s Hispanic ancestry/origins influenced your life?
My father is Cuban; his mom is Cuban and his father Spanish. My mom is Puerto Rican; her mom is Puerto Rican and her dad’s ancestry includes some Native Indian and Spanish roots. Their diverse backgrounds influenced me in developing principles I used to raise my children, how I express myself, my religion and the food we eat. I love cooking Hispanic dishes from diverse backgrounds; Cuban, Spanish, Mexican, and Puerto Rican.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you?
My dad gave me the best piece of advice when I was a teen, he said "Marizela, if you marry and all goes well, that is good, but if your marriage doesn’t work, you should be able to turn around and stand on your own feet the very next day." I keep this deep in my heart. I have a wonderful husband and family, but I manage myself as my dad said. I stand every day of my life on my own feet creating the life I want for myself and my family. I have full control to choose the next step I take.
What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?
My highest accomplishment was to be able to move with my family to the United States. To enjoy and provide a better quality of life to my sons and to be able to travel to all the State Parks and National Monuments. I don’t take this privilege lightly. I’m very thankful and grateful for the opportunity to be in this beautiful country and enjoy it’s freedoms.
If you could learn to master one thing, what would it be?
I would love to master playing the piano. As a child I took piano lessons but found it difficult. As an adult I’ve taken piano lessons and have been able to advance at the Intermediate Level. It takes practice every day to learn and gain the necessary skills; I admire those who have mastered the art. I would love to be able to play for myself and to share the music with others. I still get too nervous playing in front of people; this is something I need to overcome.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
This has changed through time. As a child I wanted to be a teacher, then a hair stylist, and an interior decorator or a fashion designer just for the fun of it; I’ve always been very creative. I chose to study architecture and then wanted to be a famous architect. Now, I just want to be happy and healthy and be able to share with my kids what I have learned about life.
If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
I would love to take the time and drive to the East Coast and sit at the beach; this is what I missed most. Being able to be enjoy the seascape from dawn to dusk and ground myself in the sand. I will deeply breathe the sea air to clean my inner being and picture that scene to bring it back with me as I drive home to my reality.
What’s the most thrilling/adventurous thing you have ever done?
Something I don’t share very often is that I’m a Certified Level 2 Padi Scuba Multi Lever Diver. After completing college my sister and I decided to take scuba diving lessons. I did it to conquer my fears. Sometimes you need to embrace the things you fear to overcome, and that’s what I did. This adventure was very satisfying; I took one dive at a time, each one with its own challenges and learning skills. I completed approximately 20 dives in different diving locations, including multilevel dives up to 150 feet all around the Puerto Rico Island. One of the most thrilling was "The Wall" in La Mona Island west of Puerto Rico. I was able to experience first hand the beauty and the intense color of the underwater, sharks, manta rays, impressive sea turtles, colorful schools of salt water fish, huge sponges and living corals.
If you could pick a personal motto, what would it be?
"All is in perfect order at this moment in time." I kept this mantra after reading the book "Conversation with God"; it’s helped me move forward through difficult and transitional times.