Meet the Honoree: Congressman Joaquin Castro
Congressman Joaquin Castro will be honored at the 2015 Honors Evening on September 9 in Washington, DC for his commitment to ACYPL and public diplomacy. He participated in an ACYPL exchange trip to Argentina and Uruguay in 2007.
Joaquin Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 16, 1974. A second generation Mexican American, he was raised on the city’s Westside and is a proud product of the public school system. The Castro family’s history in the United States began nearly 100 years ago when his grandmother, Victoria Castro, came to Texas as a young orphan. In the spirit of the American Dream, she often worked two and three jobs at a time to be able to give her daughter (Joaquin’s mother, Rosie) and her grandchildren a better chance in life.
Joaquin has worked hard to seize the opportunities created by the sacrifices of his grandmother and prior generations. After finishing high school a year early, Joaquin left San Antonio to graduate with honors from Stanford University in 1996. He then went on to attend Harvard Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 2000. Upon his return to San Antonio at 28 years old, Joaquin joined a private law practice and was elected into the Texas Legislature. He served five terms as state representative for District 125. In 2012 Joaquin was elected to serve in the U.S House of Representatives as representative of Texas Congressional District 20, which covers a large portion of San Antonio and Bexar County. Joaquin’s identical twin brother, Julián Castro, was elected in 2013 to his third term as Mayor of San Antonio. On July 28, 2014, Julian Castro was sworn in as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Joaquin’s respect for public service developed at a young age and was deeply influenced by his parents’ involvement in political movements and civic causes. His father, a retired teacher, and his mother, a renowned community activist, instilled in him a deep appreciation for the democratic process and the importance of serving one’s community.
Despite a difficult political environment during his time as state legislator, Joaquin transcended partisan gridlock to help restore millions of dollars in funding to critical health care and education programs. As Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee and Democratic Floor Leader in the Texas House, he was also at the forefront in proposing forward-thinking legislative reforms in the areas of mental health, teen pregnancy, and juvenile justice.
Now in his second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Joaquin serves on the House Armed Services Committee, as well as the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was the 2013 co-President for the House freshman Democrats and serves in House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip.
Outside of the legislative chamber, Joaquin has demonstrated a strong commitment to his community. He created the Trailblazers College Tour, personally raising money to send underprivileged students on college visits, giving them exposure to some of the nation’s best institutions of higher education. He also created SA READS, San Antonio’s largest literacy campaign and book drive. Over 200,000 books have been distributed to more than 150 schools and shelters across the city. He has also taught as a visiting professor of law at St. Mary’s University and as an adjunct professor at Trinity University. Joaquin is active on several boards of education-related, non-profit organizations, including the National College Advising Corps, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ (NALEO) Taskforce on Education.
Having experienced America’s promise firsthand, Joaquin wants to help build out what he calls the Infrastructure of Opportunity so that future generations will have the same chance to pursue their American Dream. Joaquin believes that just as there is an infrastructure of transportation that helps us get to where we want to go on the road there is an Infrastructure of Opportunity that helps Americans get to where they want to go in life. It is that Infrastructure of Opportunity – great public schools and universities, a sound healthcare system, and good-paying jobs – that enables Americans to pursue their American Dream. Our centuries-long commitment to building and preserving this infrastructure is what distinguishes America among the nations of the world.
As Congressman, Joaquin continues to be a tireless advocate for those who call San Antonio home. From supporting military families to investing in education, Joaquin remains committed to helping mold an Infrastructure of Opportunity for San Antonians and Americans around the country.Learn more about the 2015 Honors Evening here.