Moments before introducing the keynote speaker at the NCLR Conference Luncheon in the packed ballroom of Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio, I was asked to stall slightly after my introduction in order that a small box be placed behind the podium.
As Major General Angela Salinas, United States Marine Corps, stepped up to the microphone, she joked about needing the box to be seen.
At just about 5 feet tall, Salinas has never let her altitude determine her attitude.
No stranger to the front lines of achievement, she has a reputation for having the word "first" in front of her name.
Angela Salinas is the first woman to command a Recruit Depot, the first Hispanic female to become a general officer, the first Hispanic female and only the sixth female in the Marine Corps to reach the rank of brigadier general.
As the audience hung onto her every word, Major General Salinas took them on a roller coaster of emotions.
She is the daughter of a mechanic and a housekeeper, who worked the ranchitos in South Texas "where education was a luxury, unaffordable, and in most cases, unavailable, but, dreams were plentiful." Upon graduating from high school her parents gave her advice that she has never forgotten, "Make a difference with what you have that maybe someone else does not."
Major General Salinas is living proof of the power of education and perseverance and her message of appreciation for those who daily serve their country came through loud and clear.
In the end, it was the audience who needed a box to stand on in order to see eye-to-eye with this Hispanic giant.