Hilda Solis On Overcoming Barriers

03/14/2012 02:39 pm ET

The glass ceiling still keeps many women from reaching the top echelons of business or government. But it's something that Labor Secretary Hilda Solis hasn't experienced herself. The 54-year-old former lawmaker, the first Latina to become a Cabinet secretary, knows firsthand that women can overcome barriers. She was born into a large family of limited means in Southern California, the daughter of a Mexican father and a Nicaraguan mother with less than sixth-grade educations. She was expected to seek a secretarial or clerical job, but, encouraged by a high school counselor, became the first in her family to attend college. After graduating from California State Polytechnic University, she earned a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California.

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