JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. –
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Ramón "CZ" Colón-López spoke to Airmen during a National Hispanic Heritage Month event, Sep. 26.
During his speech, Colón-López began with his humble Puerto Rican childhood and the struggles that he faced after moving to the United States.
“When I got to Bridgeport, Connecticut, I didn't speak English. I was fresh out of friends, and I had to learn a new way of life,” said Colón-López.
Colón-López spoke on being mindful of self-inflicted limitations and limitations that others may try to place on fellow Airmen.
"The best lesson I can probably give you in diversity, equity, and inclusion is to follow through with your dreams and goals," said Colón-López. "If you really want to do something greater, keep your eye on the prize and do not take ‘no’ from people that don't have the right or the authority to tell you ‘no.'"
Colón-López also encouraged audience members that as long as they put in the work, the Air Force would reward them -- just as the Air Force has afforded him the opportunity to become the SEAC.
“It doesn't matter where you come from, what gender you are, religion, and so on. The only thing that matters is what you put forth when it comes to mission accomplishment,” said Colón-López. “And it doesn't matter what career field you're in, what duty you have. As long as you do it well, you will be rewarded.”
Colón-López gave final remarks before opening the floor to questions.
“The last thing that I will say is that in all of these years, I never sold my soul for an assignment, position, or rank," he said. "I stayed true to those values that I learned as a humble, poor kid from the southwest coast of Puerto Rico. I stayed true to the things that I knew were right and wrong, and at the end of the day, I treated everyone equally, regardless of rank, job, or affiliation. That is how we become the best version of ourselves, and that is how we get to a place to where no one has a fear of retribution, of assault, or of anything.”
Colón-López's speaking engagement was part of Joint Base Andrews' celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month, held annually from Sep. 15 to Oct. 15.
Members from the 113th Wing are leading this year's Hispanic Heritage Month committee, and their next event will be "Latin Day," a festival-style event on Oct. 15 with food, dancing, and displays honoring the diversity of Hispanic heritage.