Hispanic American TEKsystems employees share how their career journeys have shaped them personally and professionally.
Oct. 12, 2023 | By TEKsystems
At TEKsystems, we’re committed to nurturing an inclusive workplace culture and welcoming diversity into every aspect of our business. To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked our company’s AdelanTEK Employee Network (EN) members to share their perspectives.
Paul Anthony Valenzuela
I grew up in Salinas, a small agricultural town in California. My family was not rich, but my parents made me feel like I had everything—providing me with quality clothes, sending me to good schools and taking me out to restaurants and on vacations. My father worked two to three blue-collar jobs most of my childhood, often missing my parent-teacher conferences or my little league games. My mom worked as a legal secretary for California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA). CRLA was big on advancing the rights of agricultural and migrant workers in the Salinas Valley and the banishment of el cortito (“the short hoe”), which wasn’t just an agricultural tool but a symbol of exploitative working conditions.
When I was in first grade, I learned about the National Chicano Moratorium in Los Angeles, the Brown Berets formed in Tucson, the marches in Delano and the UFW strikes in the Salinas Valley. Regardless of problematic issues in society, my parents encouraged me to study hard, have integrity, strive for excellence and be proud of my heritage.
I started to investigate my heritage and drew a sense of belonging in 1982 when I served with fellow Latinos in the Navy. As a result of traveling to the Philippines and Spain during my service, I gained a further understanding of my roots and discovered that my surname comes from Valencia, Spain.
I may not speak the language of my ancestors, but I am proud of the Latino traditions, the resiliency of our community and the values taught to me. I am successful today because of the hard work and perseverance of my family—especially my parents. “Si se puede” is my superpower! My idea of growth is not about titles or awards. I measure growth by creating positive outcomes in my life and for my community by uniting on common goals.
When not pursuing new business opportunities for TEKsystems, I can be found surrounded by my wife, Angela, and our family and friends. We love to travel and socialize with people over a glass of wine and experience new cultures.
My dad cherished food and family more than anything. His love language was expressed in the kitchen, and you could taste it in every bite. My dad always reminded us of our roots, thanks to his passion for Puerto Rican culture.
I lost my dad to cancer during my freshman year at UConn, but his legacy remains. One of my fondest memories was his generosity in how he made sure every mouth was fed when I invited my friends to our home. The love he exuded has shaped me into the man I am, both personally and professionally. My dad taught me that your village of supporters should be appreciated and cared for because they are your most valuable resource.
When I reflect on the goals I have accomplished and the ones I have yet to conquer, I think about the village that has supported me. The way they have always cheered me on gives me the resolve to hold myself accountable to nothing short of greatness.
The people I have met at TEKsystems over the past six years have quickly become part of that village I owe so much to. From my colleagues in the Hartford office to my mentors and leaders throughout the nation, each connection I’ve made has given me space and patience to develop new skills, make mistakes and learn from them to grow in my professional career. TEKsystems took a chance by hiring me in 2017 because they saw my potential and were willing to invest in it. I am grateful for the opportunity and for the help of AdelanTEK, who connected me with other members of the Latinx community across the company.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my dad, but I know he would be proud of how far I’ve come as his spirit patiently waits for me in the kitchen.
As a first-generation Mexican American, I feel a duty to be successful for my family and the generations to come. I grew up hearing the words “échale ganas,” meaning “work hard.” I believe that if I lead by example and apply myself, success will eventually follow. Coming to TEKsystems validated this belief and showed me what this core value could do for me.
I am often the only Latinx person in the room, and though it used to be something I dreaded to acknowledge, it now makes me proud. I am passionate about bringing my heritage into untouched spaces and embracing the deeply rooted values that our Hispanic community shares around the importance of a strong work ethic.
I have seen exponential growth personally and professionally over the past two years. I have received and given feedback, [been] exposed to different perspectives, made mistakes and gained a lot of confidence through my accomplishments. This has transferred into my personal life and how I show up for those around me.
I feel fortunate to be part of an organization that shares similar values and welcomes unique perspectives with the goal of becoming better. During my time at TEKsystems, I have been introduced to lifelong mentors and a network of people I otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. I aim to give back to the community and create opportunities for those who follow.Click here to read part 1 of this series