United States

Elizabeth Guzman: for taking her immigrant story to the Virginia legislature

To mark International Women's Day, Univision honors 15 incredible Latinas who are innovating in fields from sports to science.

The day after Donald Trump was elected president, Elizabeth Guzman’s nine-year-old son asked her if they should leave the country because they speak Spanish. A year later, the social worker won a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, ousting an eight-term Republican incumbent. A political newcomer, she was the first Latina ever to run for a seat in the statehouse.

Since then, Guzman’s success story has served in part to galvanize other women considering a run for office. In what’s been dubbed a “Pink Wave,” there are a record number of women seeking to win elections in 2018 at all levels of government; many are running for the first time.

Guzman has never shied away from sharing her personal story. She came to the U.S. from Callao, Peru, as an 18-year-old single mother. She worked three jobs to pay the rent for a small apartment. Eventually she was able to study; she now holds two Master’s degrees.

Her story has resonated: just days after her January 20 swearing in, Guzman was chosen to give the Spanish-language rebuttal to President Trump’s State of the Union speech.

“My experience have been a testament to the incredible promise that our nation holds, one we feel proud to call home,” Guzman said in her speech.

Emma Gonzalez
For calling B.S. on the NRA
Marlen Esparza
For revolutionizing women's boxing
Germaine Franco
For bringing Mexican music to the big screen
Rita Moreno
For redefining what it means to be 86
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
For bringing marginalized farmworker's voices into the #MeToo conversation
Diana Trujillo
For getting us closer to Mars
Princess Nokia
For infusing rap with punk rock, feminism and 'Afrolatinidad'
Candi CdeBaca
For fighting gentrification in a changing Denver
Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski
For breaking barriers in the exploration of space and time
Cristina Martínez
For daring to talk about undocumented restaurant workers
Geisha Williams
For leading California into a green energy future
Elizabeth Guzman
For taking her immigrant story to the Virginia legislature
Reyna Montoya
For encouraging undocumented youth to dream and heal
Maria Hinojosa
For putting Latino stories front and center
Gabby Rivera
For being the first queer Latina to write for Marvel Comics

Coordination: Jessica Weiss, Olivia Liendo and Allie Jaynes.

Illustrations: Grace Berríos and Jackie Albano.

Web design and development: Juan Jesús Gómez.

Editorial: Nathalie Alvaray, Tamoa Calzadilla, Juliana Jiménez, Douglas Gómez and Rogerio Manzano.

Photo Editing: David Maris.

This story was produced in collaboration with Univision Contigo, Univision's social responsibility team.

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