TAMPA, Florida – A woman who has moved from working the fields to the boardroom is an inspiration to anyone coming to the United States to build a better future.
“I grew up in a little town called Wimauma, Florida, right here in Hillsborough County. My parents brought us in when I was probably about seven to work in the fields. So we ended up in this little one. town and we traveled to Michigan and Indiana. Just follow the crops, “remembers Rocio Smith, who was born in Mexico.” When you’re with your parents, when you’re with your family and you’re all united, you travel, you are together. So in that sense, it was a really happy adventure, as I call it. ”
Rocio is now Vice President of Market at Achieva Credit Union. As she reflects on her childhood, she is grateful for the experiences that brought her here.
Not all the adventures of his childhood were happy. Her family had to contend with unfair wages, long working hours, and traveling from city to city to find work.
She says her experiences have made her tough and ready to take on the world.
When Rocio was 16, she embraced this work ethic in high school, got scholarships, and went to the University of South Florida. She graduated in psychology and became a mental health counselor.
“I think it was an exit ticket. I knew I could help [my family] more if I had that education. I knew early on that this would be the way I was going to help and give back. And so I’m very grateful to my parents, ”she explained.
She remembers a time when her mother took her to the bank and the cashier didn’t want to touch her money.
“When you pick tomatoes, you get all that green, mushy residue. And the lady didn’t want to touch her money. I remember. working in the banking sector, “says Rocio.
She never forgot this experience nor her dream of working in a financial institution and helping the less fortunate.
“If you work hard, if you study hard, because education, at the end of the day, is key. This is where you can make a difference. This is where we’re going to give back. is where you are going to help your parents financially, ”she said.“ I’ve had a lot of failures, but nowhere in those values have they made me a strong person. And so you’re going to fail and that’s OK, you’re going to struggle. And that’s why it’s basically about staying on. Ultimately, you keep running and you will achieve your goals. “