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I don’t think that I am very different from other women in looking to my mother as one of the most important influences in my life. She had an especially large influence on how I developed throughout my career because of the example she set, because of how she lived her life. Her guiding principles not only shaped me, they continue to be the compass for my own family and career choices.

My mother had only a fifth-grade education. For her generation, the prevalent attitude was that a woman didn’t need a good education because her main responsibility was to raise a family. But my mother did that with everything she had, including a strong will and a gentle heart. She was incredibly committed to my siblings and to me. We always came first. She taught us the power of family and that no one accomplishes anything alone.

When I was young, my mother showed me how to stand on my own two feet. My brother and I struggled as the only minorities in our school. We faced a lack of understanding and prejudice from our teachers and classmates. My mother helped us learn to stand up to those prejudices and to gather the strength to move past them.

As an adult, my mother taught me the power of resolve. I knew that she had always wanted to continue her education. But she waited patiently until all of her children had grown up and left home, and then she quietly went to work on her GED. She didn’t even tell us what she had been up to until the day her diploma came in the mail. I’ll always remember the smile on my mother’s face as she showed us what she had accomplished.

And that brings me to the most important thing she taught me – the power of saying thank you. She and my father were very grateful for everything they had. They instilled in us that same level of gratitude for each day, good or bad, and for the opportunities we get in life to grow, to share, and to learn.  I try to follow that example to this day.

My mother gave me the gifts I needed to become a public school teacher, a civic activist, a Federal government executive, and today, the head of the Office of Personnel Management. I can’t think of a better day than International Women's Day to celebrate my mother’s lasting contributions.

Director Archuleta stands with young women at an event in Tampa



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