A long with her philanthropic efforts, Eva is very involved in politics. And since we are in the throes of a presidential election season, it’s appropriate to look back to 2008 when Eva was given the opportunity of a lifetime – a chance to address the Democratic National Convention. Aside from the full-throated endorsement of then Senator Barack Obama, Eva talked about her appreciation for having access to the “American Dream.” Her inspirational eloquence caught the attention of the nation, fueling speculation that she might run for political office someday.
I feel fortunate to be standing on this stage tonight. I never could've imagined it growing up. I was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, the youngest of four girls, including my oldest sister, Lisa, who has special needs. My mom was a special education teacher, and my dad worked on the Army base. We weren't wealthy, but we were determined to succeed.
In my family, there was one cardinal priority—education. College was not an option; it was mandatory. So even though we didn't have a lot of money, we made it work. I signed up for financial aid, Pell Grants, work study, anything I could. Just like our president and first lady, I took out loans to pay for school. Then I changed oil in a mechanic shop, flipped burgers at Wendy's, taught aerobics and worked on campus to pay them back.
Like a lot of you, I did whatever it took, and four years later, I got my degree. More importantly, I got a key to American opportunity. That's who we are—a nation that rewards ambition with opportunity. Where hard work can lead to success, no matter where you start. Traveling the country, I see young Americans of every background fighting to succeed. They're optimistic, ambitious, hardworking. But they also want to know that their hard work will pay off.
Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs in America. It's the suburban dad who realizes his neighborhood needs a dry cleaner. It's the Latina nurse whose block needs a health cli-ic—and she knows she's the one to open it! It's the high school sophomore who is building Facebook's competitor. They are the entrepreneurs driving the American economy.
America was built by optimists. Optimists like my friend Amanda, who recently started a small business. When she went to buy her website address—her first and last name—she found that someone already owned it but wasn't using it. So my friend emailed the owner of the site to ask if she could buy it. The owner wrote back.
She is a 13-year-old girl who shares Amanda's name and politely explained that she could not give up the website. Why? Because the younger Amanda plans to be president of the United States, and she's going to need the website for her campaign.
Here is a girl who at 13 years old firmly believes she can build her American dream. Let's fight for the American dream! Amanda's, yours, mine, all of ours!"