Despite challenges, the American Dream is alive and well, and education is the key to making it happen, Monica Lozano, the spring Patricia Adams Lecture Series keynote speaker, said Thursday during her keynote address.
Lozano, currently the president and CEO of the College Futures Foundation, knows this is true because her family is a living example. She spent 30 years at La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language daily newspaper in the country, rising from the editorial department to become publisher and CEO, a position she held until 2016.
In her address, titled “My American Story: A Family, A Business, A Dream,” Lozano said her Mexican immigrant grandfather, who died before she was born, started La Opinión in his 20s. To this day, he is her inspiration. “His story carries me forward every day. He was a man of great courage and conviction,” she said.
Her grandfather “used the power of the newspaper to speak of, defend and elevate the contributions of the community at that time,” empowering people to establish themselves as contributing members of American society. Lozano said she imagined the founders of Heidelberg understood this concept as well.
Another commonality driving the immigrant spirit was an understanding about the importance of investing in education – just as her grandfather had done when he realized there were no schools the city recognized as the birthplace of Mexico’s independence. He rallied community and readership support, raising nickels and dimes, until he had enough to build two schools there.
“This country is what it is precisely because of the power of the entrepreneurial spirit immigrants have brought to it,” she said.
Representing the third generation of her family to lead La Opinión, Lozano said she recognized “the extraordinary opportunity and the extraordinary legacy of our family to make a difference through the power of journalism to inform, educate and contribute to the integration of immigrants in America.” With that came a responsibility to give back to the community that helped to make the business successful.
That ethos was long the guiding principle for La Opinión. Even as the paper adapted to the changing environment of the digital world to stay relevant, its core remained: providing quality content and going beyond selling papers to be “of service” to the community.
Being of service is one of the strong tenets of the American Dream, which Lozano believes is achievable. Her family is living proof.
“Yes, the American Dream feels under assault and at times out of reach. Even with its challenges, it is within reach … if we are willing to work hard, demonstrate grit and determination and do we can to accelerate the people who aspire to reach the American dream,” she said.
She maintains that education is the pathway to that goal. “My grandfather understood that. … The #1 contributor to progress and success at the individual level and the community level is education.”
Lozano added: “The power of the future being created at places like Heidelberg, coupled with the power and passion that immigrants can bring … that is an extraordinary recipe for what can happen together. … That’s what makes the American dream within our reach.”
During sessions earlier in the day, Lozano shared her perspective on leadership with several business classes. She also was interviewed about her life and career by Savannah Overly in a “fireside chat” and shared advice about the importance of having strong resumés and mentors with a large group of students, faculty and staff.