Hard work matters

Role-model MSU President shares her advice

Waded Cruzado, President of Montana State University, has a message for aspirational students in the state: Hard-work matters. Cruzado should know. She is a first-generation college student from Puerto Rico who, due to hard work and perseverance, serves as one of the few Latina presidents of a university in the nation.

Cruzado’s story makes her a role model for all young people in every community and particularly for women, Latinos and first-generation college students. In the beginning, Cruzado said she “did not aspire to be president of a university, much less in the United States, and least of all, in Montana.” Her goal was to become a professor of Spanish Language and literature able to teach and research, and most of all, help her students “discover within themselves all the potential they had.”

This is a process Cruzado knew well. As a young woman, she took every opportunity presented to her, and she advised every student to do the same. The path is clear, said Cruzado, “Try to do your job to your best ability, and then the opportunities will come, the doors will open to you one after another. ”

This can be true even when opportunities might not seem to be the perfect fit. For instance, Montana and Cruzado. Initially, Cruzado thought she might “not be the right person because of the many factors that divided the state with my background,” including her accent, her complexity, and the Western mountain environment. However, she took a risk and set out on the new path. “When opportunities appear, know how to say yes, even if it seems like the most complicated thing in the world, and you will see the results,” she said.

Had Cruzado not learned to overcome her own reticence about herself, and perhaps the reticence of others, her path might have been very different. “As women, we have the intelligence, the desire, the work ethic and the discipline to be successful -- “that is where it all begins.”

Unfortunately, Cruzado says that women themselves often put obstacles in their way. “We are the ones who are always questioning ourselves. We are the first to deny ourselves that path to progress,” says Cruzado. “It happened to me a lot in my life, and I think it has more to do with being a woman than with being Latina.” She said women need to believe in themselves because, “If we can’t be sure of ourselves, no one can give us that certainty either.”

This doesn’t mean that anyone- -male or female--should take an approach that they are totally on their own. Cruzado is emphatic about the importance of teamwork in every aspect of life. “No job is done alone; you always need someone to help you.” To make teamwork successful, Cruzado said one thing is key: “Communication, communication, communication. That is the best way to move human beings -- to communicate to them an opportunity, an idea that you formulate in your mind.”

Cruzado said that our first teams are all around us, something clear in the Latino community. “We have a great emphasis on family and the community, that same emphasis should be used in the workplace, and the fruits will be great.”

In addition to Cruzado’s identities as a Latina and woman, the fact that her parents did not attend college--while she received multiple degrees and came to be the highest ranking officer within the academic administration of a university is something she never takes for granted in her work. The importance of a degree cannot be overestimated, said Cruzado. “A career will be what will open doors for you in life. Education is the only thing that no one can ever take away from you.”

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Lone Peak Lookout

Cori Koenig, editor: editor@lonepeaklookout.com
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