“Who are you, and why are you running?”
This is the first question everyone asks, and I like to answer with this:
Come back with me to about two years ago.
It was unusually warm for a November day – sunny and barely any wind. I’m out on a golf course, so you can smell the grass and hear the sound of golf carts zipping around, and you can see the marmots out everywhere sunning themselves, the whole thing.
It also smelled like fresh dirt – because they had already begun to clear an area to build the new Procter R. Hug High School.
This was the groundbreaking celebration for that project, and I remember it like it was yesterday for a couple of reasons.
First of all, the kids were sooooo excited! They were just beaming! There were huge smiles, laughter, and you could tell that they had that special joy that you get when something you never really believed would come to pass actually happens.
I was really excited, too, because I am a proud graduate of Hug. To be a part of giving this incredible gift back to that community is just amazing.
See, I was at Hug when McQueen was opening, and it felt like all the middle-class kids got to go to the new school while all the poor kids got left behind in old Hug High School.
That was not a good feeling. But the feeling with these current Hug students was completely different!
I moved to that area of town in the eighth grade. We lived in the neighborhood around Pat Baker Park. I’m not sure many other people felt this way, but moving from where we lived in the projects in San Francisco to here sorta felt like the Jeffersons; we were moving on up! We rented a house and had a yard…. Don’t get me wrong: we were still poor, but at least this was an improvement.
While growing up, my mother drilled into us that education was the key you wanted to have a better life, being successful, and making something of yourself. So, I went to the University of Nevada. I was the first in my family to graduate from college, and I eventually went on to earn a doctorate degree. That was the end of my days of being poor, changed my life, and led to a great career at the University. And now, as a small business owner, I am blessed to do well.
It was my passion for education that originally inspired me to join the school board.
The power of education was what originally inspired me to get on the school board. Since being on the Board, I’ve learned that there are actually a lot of pathways to good-paying jobs, and many don’t require a college degree. And I’m very proud to support the growth of those programs as more avenues to the middle class for our students.
Back to that day of the groundbreaking for the new Hug High School. It was so meaningful because it demonstrates the improvements that we’ve made in education over the past seven years that I’ve been on the board. We kept our promises with that WC-1 money. We’ve added career education programs, enhanced the social and emotional learning curriculum, raised graduation rates, and so much more. Of course, there’s still a lot of work to be done. But for me, with the new Hug opening this Fall, a new superintendent at the helm, and an opening at the Legislature, I feel like this is a good time to take what I’ve learned on the school board and continue to help improve our schools from a new position. In addition to focusing on helping families that grew up as I did, I bring the perspective of a business owner, which would add value to the Legislature.
But if there’s one “big reason” why I’m running, I want you to think of this: picture me at that groundbreaking ceremony, smiling and laughing with those students from my alma mater, at the celebration of keeping our promises and improving our schools. That’s the kind of incredible work that we can do together – the work I’ve been blessed to be a part of and the work that I want to see continue in our community.