Joaquin Castro is among the vanguard of a new class of Latino leaders emerging across the country. The Texas Tribune has called him a “rising star in his party,” and more recently, Politico.com named Joaquin one of the top 50 politicos to watch in the nation. Although Joaquin has established a distinguished legislative track record, his story shares the same humble origins that have come to define so many great stories about the pursuit of the American Dream.
Joaquin, a second-generation Mexican American, was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 16, 1974. He was raised on the city’s Westside and is a proud product of the public school system. The Castro family’s history in the United States began nearly 100 years ago when his grandmother, Victoria Castro, came to Texas as a young orphan. In the spirit of the American Dream, she often worked two and three jobs at a time to be able to give her daughter (Joaquin’s mother, Rosie) and her grandchildren a better chance in life.
Joaquin worked hard to seize the opportunities created by the sacrifices of his grandmother and prior generations. After finishing high school a year early, Joaquin left San Antonio to graduate with honors from Stanford University in 1996 and attend Harvard Law School where he received his Juris Doctorate degree in 2000. Upon his return, Joaquin was elected at 28 years old into the Texas Legislature and is currently serving his fifth term as state representative for District 125, while his identical twin brother, Julián Castro, was just re-elected to his second term as Mayor of San Antonio.
Joaquin’s respect for public service developed at a young age and was deeply influenced by his parents’ involvement in political movements and civic causes. His father, a retired teacher, and his mother, a renowned community activist, instilled in him a deep appreciation for the democratic process and the importance of serving one’s community.
As Vice Chairman of the Higher Education Committee and Democratic Floor Leader in the Texas House, Joaquin has been an effective leader in Texas politics, despite a difficult political environment. In this session alone, he transcended partisan gridlock to help restore millions of dollars in funding to critical health care and education programs. He has also been at the forefront in proposing forward-thinking legislative reforms in the areas of mental health, teen pregnancy, and juvenile justice.
Outside of the legislative chamber, Joaquin has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community. He has created the Trailblazers College Tour, personally raising money to send underprivileged students on college visits, giving them exposure to some of the nation’s best institutions of higher education. He has also created SA READS, San Antonio’s largest literacy campaign and book drive. To date, over 200,000 books have been distributed to more than 150 schools and shelters across the city.
Joaquin and his brother previously established a private litigation practice in San Antonio. He has also taught as a visiting professor of law at St. Mary’s University and as an adjunct professor at Trinity University. Joaquin is active on several boards of education-related, non-profit organizations, including Achieving the Dream, the National College Advising Corps, and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ (NALEO) Taskforce on Education.
Having experienced America’s promise firsthand, he wants to help build out what he calls the Infrastructure of Opportunity so that future generations will have the same chance to pursue their American Dream. He believes that just as there is an infrastructure of transportation that helps us get to where we want to go on the road there is an Infrastructure of Opportunity that helps Americans get to where they want to go in life. It is that Infrastructure of Opportunity – good public schools, great universities and a sound healthcare system – that enables Americans to pursue their American Dream. Our centuries-long commitment to building and preserving this infrastructure is what distinguishes America among the nations of the world.
The potential for job creation and economic development in the region is tremendous. Joaquin will be a strong advocate in Congress for building out the Infrastructure of Opportunity in the 20th congressional district.