Recognized Champion of Change Challenges Students to Look Ahead

The San Marcos High School’s Phoenix program hosted guest speaker Graciela Tiscareño-Sato on Monday afternoon, October 17, 2016.

Several Texas State University students also attended the program that was held in the Lamar cafeteria.

The oldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, Tiscareño-Sato challenged students to think what they imagined themselves to be doing 30 years from now, and then shared how she had escaped the restrictions of her upbringing to become an aviator/decorated military veteran, award-winning author, bilingual consultant, multicultural publisher, and founder/CEO of a global group.

She holds two bachelor degrees from U.C. Berkeley, a master degree from Whitworth University, and was awarded an Air Medal for combat operations over Iraq.

For her accomplishments, she is featured on the website under the Champions of Change pages.

As a child, she recalled standing in Colorado fields watching the white vapor trails behind planes disappear over the mountains; this was the beginning of her lifelong fascination with flying.

As she became older, she felt confined by the expectations of her cultural community. She left home at 18 to become “a scholar,” and received an Air Force ROTC scholarship for Berkeley. In due course, she graduated from Berkeley with two degrees and became an aviator and military officer—the only female in her cohort.

Tiscareño-Sato told the assembled students one of her favorite quotations: “If you want what you’ve never had, you must be willing to go where you’ve never been.”

Again challenging the students to take a long-term view of their own lives, she said that hers has been a life of continued learning and trying new things, like stepping stones from one place to an even better place. 

She cited several examples of friends and fellow professionals who had backgrounds similar to hers, and who—through perseverance and determination—had achieved to become educated minority role models.

She founded a company that publishes multicultural, educational books and eBooks for K-College readers, many showcasing the talents of the Latino community, and is a keynote speaker to audiences around the world.

Her bilingual children’s picture book series has won international recognitions, and she urged the students to develop a love and appreciation for reading. “Literature sparks imagination,” she said.

Family pride is apparent in the photos she shared of her husband and three children who support her roles outside the home, and of her parents who came to appreciate what their courageous daughter had accomplished.

When given the opportunity, Tiscareño-Sato speaks with parents today who may be unknowingly holding their children back, and encourages them to give their children the gift to aspire far beyond their present circumstances.

Before concluding, she gave the high school and university students some summary points on “How to Create YOUR Life Story:”

  • Seek those you want to emulate: CONNECT!
  • Ask for long-term mentoring
  • Select carefully who you listen to
  • Avoid “discouragers,” negative energy
  • Prepare your achievement speech.


The little girl who dreamed of flying planes who grew up to be an Air Force KC-135 navigator, pilot, and instructor and who proudly shared photographs of her children visiting her cockpit, asked the students: “What stories will you tell YOUR children?” 


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