Q&A: A CONVERSATION WITH THE U.S. TREASURER
There’s no class year after it, but that signature you see on a new dollar bill belongs to a schoolmate of yours: Anna Escobedo Cabral ’87, recently appointed U.S. treasurer by President Bush.
But what’s most surprising isn’t her UC Davis tie. It’s how far the 45-year-old has come despite all odds. The daughter of California farmworkers who didn’t graduate from high school, Cabral had four children before she finished her bachelor’s degree. To balance family and schoolwork, she attended UC Davis every other quarter; when she worked on a master’s degree at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, she often brought her children, then ages 3–8, to class.
Since graduating she’s amassed a distinguished résumé. She was executive staff director for the U.S. Senate Republican Conference Task Force on Hispanic Affairs, while also working as deputy staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. In 1999, she became head of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, working to increase inclusion of Hispanics in Fortune 1000 companies. In 2003, she was named director of the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives, responsible for fostering appreciation of Latino history and culture through the Smithsonian’s holdings.
Cabral is married to another UC Davis alumnus, Victor Cabral ’76, J.D. ’79, senior counsel for NBC/Telemundo, and they live in McLean, Va. She answered a few questions for us not long after her confirmation by the Senate.
Q: In your position as U.S. treasurer, you advise the secretary of the treasury on matters relating to coins and currency and also serve as a spokesperson for financial education and literacy. What do you view as your most important responsibility?
A: I will spend a good part of my time serving as a spokesperson for the department to help the secretary implement the president’s vision. President Bush is committed to protecting the homeland, and he wants all Americans to share in the building of an ownership society. Secretary Snow is working closely with him to achieve these goals. Among other priorities, the department will work to strengthen Social Security for future generations and ensure that the pension promises made to workers and retirees are kept; make the tax code simpler, fairer and pro-growth; reduce the burden of lawsuits on our economy; and expand access to affordable health care options with health savings accounts.
Q: Since you’ve graduated, your career has focused on the advancement and support of the Hispanic community. Is this a role you’ll continue in your new job?
A: Yes. I was born into a very proud community, rich in history, language, music, arts, culture and traditions. I draw a great deal of strength from these gifts and traditions. Hispanics truly believe in the American Dream but because many have not been exposed to the vast array of opportunities that exist, their dreams are sometimes too modest and limited. I vowed at a very young age to spend the rest of my life trying to find ways to help expose and educate people who might not otherwise be aware of the opportunities and tools that exist to make their dreams come true.
Q: You’ve excelled despite some overwhelming odds. To what do you credit your success?
A: 1. Parents and grandparents who instilled in me faith in God, a hard work ethic, and a commitment to family and community. 2. The guidance and advice of my high school algebra teacher, Mr. Philip Lamm, who went out of his way to convince me and my parents that I should go to college instead of looking for full-time work. 3. My husband, who taught me to dream big and believe in myself, and who supported me every step of the way. 4. Living up to the expectations of my four children serves as a very strong driving force. Nothing inspires more than the desire to create a better life for one’s children. 5. Having the opportunity to work with and for so many talented and committed public servants who taught by example and put their trust in me.
Q: Do you and your husband have a favorite memory of UC Davis?
A: When we were first dating, I traveled to Davis to visit him. At that time, I was a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz. During our visit, we decided to picnic in Central Park. Within a few months of the visit, a picture of us appeared in the heart of a full-page spread in the Davis campus newspaper for Valentine’s Day. It was a really wonderful photo. We spoke with the photographer shortly thereafter, who explained that when she saw us she knew we were truly in love.
Q: Your signature will now appear on all U.S. bills. Did you practice it a bit before handing over an official copy?
A: Yes. I was so anxious about the signature that it took several attempts before I settled on one to submit to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
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