Juana Matias, State Representative and candidate for Congress in Massachusetts’ third Congressional district, was featured on Independence Day in a piece on CNN
I came to this country with my parents from the Dominican Republic in search of a better life. The memory of boarding a plane from Santo Domingo to Boston when I was 5 years old feels like it was just yesterday. Although I had my family at my side, it was pretty scary at first. Leaving behind friends, family and a familiar home for a sea of unfamiliar faces speaking a language I couldn't understand was daunting. I can't imagine what it would have been like without my parents.
We came here in search of better opportunities -- and used those opportunities to give back. My parents worked blue-collar factory jobs, often at minimum wage, and saved enough to open their own business and buy a home. I attended good public schools, graduated college and received a law degree by working my way through school.
America gave us those opportunities in the same manner she has given tens of millions of immigrants a chance to achieve the American dream, dating back to our founding. As we celebrate Independence Day, I'm thinking about all the strivers past and present -- those people who came to these shores and achieved their American dream, and all those around the world with dreams of doing the same.
Hard work, perseverance, a good education and newfound opportunities gave me a chance to succeed and fueled my determination to help ordinary Americans. It inspired me to run for public office.
Despite the odds, I became just the second Latina to get elected as a state representative in Massachusetts' history. Now, I'm running for Congress because as a woman, an immigrant and successful lawyer and state representative, I believe our diversity is what truly makes America great.
Juana B. Matias is a lawyer and a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and a candidate for Congress for the 3rd Congressional District of that state. She lives in Lawrence, Mass.