Linda Alvarado personifies the American Dream. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to a poor immigrant family, she was able to go to college and found a successful construction company that went from pouring concrete sidewalks to building multi-million dollar airports, convention centers and stadiums.
“The American dream is also the Hispanic American dream,” says Alvarado. “America is a country that has a lot of diversity and it enables people in ways that perhaps in other countries may not be as easy.”
Alvarado, who is Mexican American, calls her veer into construction “one of those great unplanned careers.” She was attending Pomona College in Claremont, California on an academic scholarship, majoring in economics, and needed a job, she says. “I didn’t want to work in the library or food service, so I got a referral to work grounds-keeping.”
Her soon-to-be-boss tried to dissuade her, telling her she’d have to do heavy lifting and wouldn’t be able to wear nice shoes. But something about the experience really spoke to Alvarado. “I said to myself, ‘Let me get this right. I don’t have to go the gym, I will get a tan and will work with all this single men—and you’ll pay me to do this,’” she jokes. That job was followed by one at a development company where, Alvarado says, “I dreamed of getting into construction and building high rises.”
“Sometimes, while people plan on what they are doing, opportunities may come our way,” she says. “We need to be careful that we don’t eliminate ourselves and run when in fact there are opportunities even in very non-traditional careers.” READ MORE