2005 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll

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Role models who give us Reasons to Believe in the power of education

Janet Murguia

J.C. Harmon High School, 1978Janet Murguia

For six years, Janet Murguia lived what many would consider a career dream: working in the West Wing of the White House. The experience was both challenging and rewarding, but she said her fondest memory of that time was being able to open the doors of the White House to her family, friends and former teachers who came to visit her.

Since graduating from J.C. Harmon High School in 1978, Murguia has built a prosperous career for herself, and through it all she has managed to keep in touch with many of her former teachers in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. She often receives cards and letters from them, as well as personal visits.

Murguia said her career goal has always been to make a positive difference in the world. With degrees in journalism, Spanish and law, she has gone from serving as deputy assistant to President Clinton to deputy campaign manager and director of constituency outreach for the Gore/Lieberman campaign. In 2001 she became executive vice chancellor for university relations at the University of Kansas. Today she is a key figure among the next generation of leaders in the Latino community serving as president and chief executive officer of the National Council of La Raza, the largest national constituency-based Hispanic organization and the leading voice in Washington, D.C. for the Hispanic community.

She said every teacher she had growing up influenced her greatly and gave her reasons to believe in herself. Her parents also set great examples for her and her six siblings. Her father always told her, "Remember, you're not better than anybody else, but you're also not less than anybody else."

She believes education transforms lives and is the key to success for everyone. Her advice for today's students is, "Learn to define and believe in yourself. You have the ability to control your future."