We can’t deny that the United States has seen a change in environment the past couple years that has created division. Progressive and inclusive ideas towards immigrants have been traded for ancient ideals for this country.What can many times be forgotten though, is the contribution immigrants bring to this country not only in culture, and labor, but also in wealth, and innovation. The United States of America has always been a harbor for people around the world fighting for a dream and opportunities. We make America great, and these seven immigrants are a clear example of that.
1. Miguel Gonzales Jimenez
Co founder of NorthGate Market
Don Miguel is the co founder of the large chain of super markets Northgate. What started as a humble small market in Anaheim grew into 38 locations. Don Miguel’s story and that of his family doesn’t begin in Anaheim though. It begins in Jalisco where Don Miguel owned a shoe shop. After a unfortunate fire the loss of his shop forced Don Miguel to make the difficult decision to move to the U.S with two of his children, leaving his wife, Doña Teresa, and the rest of his children back in Jalisco. After a few years the family reunited in the U.S and once their children were older the business man in Don Miguel felt something needed to be done. The first idea was real estate but while out in real estate hunting the agent pointed out a building that had previously been a market with the Northgate name. In 1980, after hesitation Don Miguel and Doña Teresa opened Northgate as a liquor store. Short after a gunman stormed into their store, Doña Teresa decided to trade liquor for vegetables and added a meat market, which is where the market legacy began. It has become the $900 million dollar sales company because it has put their customers first.
2. Indra Nooyi
Director of Amazon
Indra Nooyi now known for being a director on the board of Amazon is better known for her work in PepsiCo. She was the CEO of PepsiCo for twelve years. In that time she has been able to do incredible things for the company like growing their net revenue by 80 percent. She carried the title for the most powerful women in U.S business for five years, and has been on the Fortune 100 lists as one of the 100 most powerful women for five years as well. Indra will be receiving the History In The Making Award by the Greenwich Historical Society in May for her work in the business world.
It is evident that this women has done some incredible things for the corporate world but she has also been able to inspire women to pursue a career. She has been an advocate for women in the workplace and companies supporting their female employees. She has also facilitated the growth of business development in India, her home country.
Indra, born in Madras, India had a humble beginning. She lived in an area where water was scares. However, her humble beginnings didn’t stop her from becoming the amazing women she is today. She was able to get a Bachelors in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics at the Madras Christian College. Then did her post graduate at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. She then moved to the U.S when she was accepted to Yale where she got her Masters in Public and Private Management.
Her ability to go after what she wanted came from her mother who would ask her and her sister to make up speeches as if they were president every day at dinner time. There is no doubt this women has gone from humble beginnings in India to someone that has left her mark in the corporate world.
3. Assunta Cantisano
Founder of Ragu
Anytime I want to cook a quick Italian dinner for my children I reach for my Ragú sauce. It has become a favorite for my family and for many of your homes I am sure. Ragú wasn’t always a household name. It started in the front porch and a dream.
Assunta Cantisano, was an Italian woman who along with her husband migrated to the U.S in 1914 and settled in Rochest, New York. In trying to feed their family ingredients from back home they planted ingredients needed for her family’s sauce recipe in their backyard garden. In 1937 Assunta and her husband began selling the sauce from their front porch. Soon they outgrew their porch and in 1940 they opened their first Ragú factory. Throughout the years there have been changes to the company but the heart and legacy of Assunta Cantisano remains alive.
4. Andrew and Peggy Cherng
Founders of Panda Express
If you don’t know the food chain Panda Express you might have been living under a rock. Panda is the restaurant that brought Asian cuisine to the mainstream in the U.S and around the world. This was all thanks to Andrew and Peggy Cherng along Andrew’s father. In 1983 they opened their first Panda Express in Glendale, California.
That was not the original plan though. Both Andrew and Peggy originally came to the U.S. to attend college and get a job in their field.
Andrew received a Bachelors in Mathematics from Baker University and a Masters in Applied Mathematics from the University of Missouri. Peggy received a Bachelors in Mathematics at Oregon State. A Masters in Computer Science and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Missouri where actually Peggy a Andrew met.
It’s clear to say this couple was over qualified to run a restaurant. However, what many people would have found as an unfit path they saw it as an opportunity. With their intelligence they have been able to take a small restaurant in Glendale to 2,000 locations around the world. They serve in the U.S, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Japan among other countries. There is nothing unfit for this Asian cuisine empire.
5. Jorge Mas Canosa
Founder of MasTec and the Cuban American National Foundation
Even though Jorge Más Canosa was well known in the business world by making his company MasTec one of the top five largest Hispanic owned firms in the U.S and the first to reach one billion, that is not why I wanted to write about him. His desire to see his country, Cuba, make progress and his rebelión against his country’s leadership is so inspirational. As someone that was arrested at the age of fifteen for speaking out against the regiment in his country. Then later in life having to make the decision to permanently leave and migrate to Miami because there were threats of arresting him, he knew someone had to fight for his people.
Jorge along with Raul Masvidal and Carlos Salman founded the Cuban American National Foundation. The purpose of this foundation was to aid the Cuban community to adapt a more moderate perspective and to change the strategy in which they fought the Cuban regiment. The foundation lobbied in Washington for anti-Castro laws. He was someone that never forgot what the regiment had done to his people.
6. Eduardo Garcia
Founder of Máximo Bistro and Lalo Restaurants
Eduardo Garcia born in Guanajuato, Mexico is someone many of us can relate to. In 1986 he was brought to the U.S by his father. His family and he moved around according to crop seasons since his father was a farmer. At the age of 14, Eduardo gets his first job as a dishwasher in a restaurant in Atlanta. He soon began to work for chefs and even move up the ranks. However, at the age of 23, he was deported and banned to enter the U.S for 10 years. The problem was that his father was sick and living in the U.S so Eduardo decided to return to be with him.
He continued to pursue a career in the culinary world and even becomes Executive Chef. He begins to make noise and make a name for himself. His hard work and talent begins to be recognized and it causes immigration to realize who he was and deports him for a second time. This time, banned for life.
This didn’t stop him though, he went on to open restaurants like Máximo Bistro and Lalo in Mexico and now speaks on his experience and inspires those that get deported to not give up hope.
7. Julissa Arce
Co founder of Ascend Educational Fund
This is another inspirational story. Julissa was brought to the U.S at age 11 and was undocumented for 15 years. What made her a figure for inspiration was her ability to become a successful women in Wall Street, and working for companies like Goldman Sachs all while being undocumented. She is now a best selling author, a speaker, a advocate for education for all is what inspired her to create AEF a foundation that provides scholarships and mentoring for immigrant students.
You see, immigrants don’t want handout. We seek only opportunities and the ability to give back to the country that allowed our dreams to become reality. We give back in wealth, innovation, inspiration and new opportunities. Contrary to opinions created by fear, we more than anyone want to see this country flourish and thrive.
WE ARE THE
THE UNITES STATES OF AMERICA
Written by: Lupita G.