Students in the Richfield College Experience Program (RCEP) had a special treat this week as Richfield Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez visited them to talk about her life and experiences leading up to where she is today.
"I want to support your leadership," she told the students. "Bring the best of your culture, your background and your experiences to who you are as a leader."
She described Richfield as a diverse and beautiful community, and encouraged students to continue working towards their future, whether that be higher education, entering the trades or beginning a career.
"Embrace who you are," she said. "What I will tell you is regardless of what anybody says, what people say about you does not determine your worth. What determines your worth is how you treat yourself, and what you know about yourself on the inside."
She continued to encourage the students to be comfortable with themselves and find themselves in order to become a leader. As mayor, her goal is to pave the way for new leaders and she believes firmly that these leaders can come from any background.
"People live their lives trying to figure out what people expect of them. How should I show up? How should I dress? How should I look?" In the end, she says, if you live your life like that, you won't be able to truly find yourself.
Mayor Gonzalez then asked the class where they are the happiest. The students answered, with a range of answers from being with family and having fun with friends, to playing sports and being outside. Those answers brought back her main concept—be strong in who you are, have a vision of where you want to be, and you can do anything. "As long as you know yourself, nothing can stop you."
Mayor Maria Regan Gonzalez is the first Latin-American female mayor in the state of Minnesota. Her childhood experiences, especially the positive influence from her mother, shaped her into the person she is today and gave her the passion to enter politics and use her platform to work towards an equitable society.