I have lived a very blessed life. My parents worked long hours and sacrificed a lot to give me the best opportunities possible. I went from the Southside of San Antonio to Central Catholic, Yale, and Stanford. When you’re blessed like that, you give back at every available opportunity because, as Central Catholic taught me, it is always one’s duty to put service before self.

When I was a college student at Yale, I gave back by volunteering on a local campaign. One day, I turned in some vote-by-mail applications the campaign had collected. The city clerk who accepted them instructed me to sign the applications as a witness even though I was not present when they were completed. I did so. Later, I found myself standing before a judge, accused of making a “false statement” for signing the applications. Thankfully, my error was recognized for what it was—a young person, eager to help people vote, following the orders of a public official—and the judge dismissed the charges.                                            

As embarrassing as the incident was, it taught me some important lessons—principally, to be diligent about the details. This has made me a better lawyer and entrepreneur, and it will make me a better councilperson. Moreover, I never let the incident dissuade me from public service. I graduated from Yale, promoted economic empowerment through non-profit work, founded a voting rights group at Stanford Law School, helped my hometown pass Pre-K 4 SA, and built a career in technology and law. When you make a mistake, you learn from it and move on. After all, public service is about others—not oneself.