Beyond the fact that Latinos helped re-elect President Obama in several battleground states, one of the best stories that hits hearts and minds is the election of Dr. Raul Ruiz in California’s 36th District. And Politico has a neat story on the guy.
The son of poor farmworkers, he lived in a trailer for a time as a boy and left home at 17 for UCLA. To help pay for college, he went store to store asking business owners to invest in their community by investing in his education. He raised $2,000 — enough to pay for books for two years — promising he would eventually return to the area to give back.
“Ruiz went on to earn three degrees from Harvard, including his M.D., before working as an ER doctor at a nonprofit hospital. He organized free health education for poorer communities, helped start a free clinic for the uninsured, launched a mentorship program for aspiring doctors and became a senior associate dean at UC-Riverside…”
It’s the story of an exceptional individual who beat the odds on a personal level, and especially at a political level–defeating a 14-year entrenched incumbent. Granted, the incumbent was not only out of touch with Americans, but especially with Latinos.
“I pledge that after November, I will try my hardest to speak to Latino voters,” Bono Mack said. “This election, I’m a little bit hamstrung. But I will do my best. Because I think that they deserve the attention that we need to give them.”
The incumbent even attacked Ruiz for his student involvement while in college. Ruiz made sure that voters found out just how disconnected the incumbent was. And now, it’s all about going to work for those who sent him to Congress.
“The idea that where I come from, from my humble beginnings, and now, I find myself in the Capitol around the most influential people in the country and being able to sit at the table and really serve my communities,” he said, “is very empowering.”
We don’t get many of these stories of struggle–and from leaders who will not run away from their involvement as students–but whenever you get a good one like this, well, we just need to celebrate it.