When a massive hurricane devastated the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico, thousands fled to the Hawaiian sugar cane plantations in need of workers. My great-grandfather, alone at 14, stowed away on a Hawaii-bound ship hoping for a better life. He worked and raised his family on Maui, in the Puʻunēnē Plantation’s Spanish Camp, where Puerto Rican and other Spanish-speaking workers were segregated from others.
In this same camp, my grandparents married and raised their own family – including my father. Wanting to give his children more opportunities, my grandfather moved with his family to southern California, working full-time while studying for his GED at night. His hard work motivated my father, who saw the Air Force’s GI Bill as his chance to serve and be one of the first in his family to graduate from college.
My father became an engineer and inspired my own career, in which I’ve taken the next step in this journey of opportunity –realizing the dream of starting my own business.
- A. Jake Gusman