DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah--As we celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15) it's good to recognize the contributions of our Hispanic and Latino Americans
to the United States. Here is the story of one of our own.
Lisbeth Reoyo works as utility billing clerk with the U.S. Army Dugway Garrison Public Works office. It is a position she truly enjoys because it means she can work with numbers. It also allows her to use her advanced education.
Reoyo was born in Panama. She has a strong commitment to family and hard work. She feels extremely passionate about her new home in America.
She is a soft spoken woman with long, dark hair. She is shy about the musical lilt of her Panamanian accent, which reflects her home country. She is optimistic and entrepreneurial by nature, smiling easily as she talks about the opportunities coming to America has afforded her.
"I love my job here and I want to continue to grow and have more responsibility," she said of serving at Dugway. "It's important to me to continue to improve and learn new skills. I always want to be my very best."
Reoyo explains that her parents had encouraged their large family of seven children (she is the oldest of five girls and two boys) to get their education and develop their skills, for which she is extremely grateful. She believes their advice has built a deep resilience and work ethic that are now the cornerstones of her life.
With their encouragement, she worked hard in school, graduating with a four-year university degree in business administration. Her degree led to a prestigious job in banking as a compliance officer. Later she was selected as an auditor for the Superintendence of Banking for the Government of Panama.
"My mother and father constantly told me: You are a woman and you can do anything you want, " she said. "This encouraged me to seek out new experiences and embrace opportunities that I am offered."
In 1999 she met her husband, Roberto. He was stationed at Rodam Naval Station, with the Naval Military Police, serving as a Physical Security Specialist and Instructor for the Foreign Military Drug Interdiction Program. By both accounts it was love at first sight.
In March of 2005, Roberto was assigned to Fort Greely, Alaska. Moving there was difficult for a first American experience. "She went from the tropical heat of Panama to bitter cold. It was minus 15 degrees the day she arrived in Alaska," Roberto said.
"I was crying as I looked out the window at the ice and snow," she recalled. "America seemed so hard."
Her first job was at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. "Because I didn't speak good English, I was hired as a cashier", she said. But it didn't take long for her new coworkers and friends to realize she how much experience she brought to the position. They rallied to assist her. Two months later she was hired as the store manager.
"The people there were so kind and helpful. They encouraged me and gave me a chance for more responsibility," Reoyo said gratefully. "It was a wonderful experience. I will never forget their encouragement and their support.
Although it was hard to leave her home country and family in Panama, the legacy of service, hard work, and building friendships, taught by her mother and father, continues to sustain Reoyo and her family.
"I am so thankful for the support I have found from my coworkers here. They have been so good to encourage and accept me. My parents were right in what they taught me as a girl. I don't have to be frightened as I reach for new opportunities. I have found this country is very accepting."