Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Stephanie Parra

  • Oct 1, 2019
  • Stephanie Parra, Emerge Arizona '14

My parents were born and raised in Sonora, Mexico, and like many Mexican immigrant families, they came to the United States in pursuit of a better life. My grandparents migrated to Arizona and California through the Bracero Program in the 1940s as farmworkers. My family eventually settled in Yuma, Arizona, a rural community in the southwest region of the state that borders Mexico and California. Like my grandfather, my dad worked as a farm laborer when I was a kid. I didn’t get to see my dad very much growing up because he worked long hours and often had to travel.

My mom stayed at home with us kids, but both of my parents strongly instilled in me a value for the American public education system. Growing up I understood that education was the pathway I could pursue to achieve success. This is a value that I still hold true today and continue to uphold for the 28,000 young people attending our schools in Phoenix Union High School District. 

My story is the story of many young immigrant families in Phoenix, Arizona and across the country. We are all in pursuit of the promise of the American Dream. We come to this country with hopes to access opportunity, contribute to the community and grow as individuals. This is what my parents desired for our family and these values became so personal to me that it inspired me to serve the community in a capacity where I can promote and share them with others. 

When I first decided to run for office, I looked forward to the difference I would be able to make in the community. I knew that I wanted to be an advocate for public education because of my passion for the issue and my experiences as a social worker and higher education practitioner. I didn’t know where to start because I had actually never considered politics as a career path. I looked for leadership development opportunities and support networks that would allow me to develop a skill set that I had yet to build. 

I found Emerge Arizona, a community of Democratic women aligned on values like pro-public education and ensuring access to opportunity for all children in Arizona. Emerge Arizona provided the tactical skills I needed to succeed in my first election in 2014, while also creating space to connect with many great women leaders in the community that supported my goals. Emerge Arizona continues to grow and develop the future generation of Democratic women choosing to lead in the state, and I am proud to be a part of this sisterhood that will transform Arizona in the years to come. 

In my role as the President for the Phoenix Union High School District, I serve on a governing board that is majority women and includes my fellow Emerge sisters Naketa Ross and Laura Pastor. We join hundreds of women across the country and in our state who are stepping up to make a difference and create a better future for our children. Women are realizing that they have incredible power and knowledge and they are stepping up to make their voices heard.  

Each day, I get to fight for young people and ensure that my colleagues and I are doing everything in our power to provide them with the best education possible. I look forward to making decisions on critical items like ensuring access to living-wage career opportunities for all students in Phoenix Union. I always consider the future of children we impact. As the daughter of an immigrant family, I was given the opportunity to succeed and I want to make sure that others get the same chance.