Tina Ruiz: How I turned my passion into a career
Do what you love; love what you do. Augustina “Tina” Ruiz, Hispanic Volunteer Development Manager for Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, saw no other option for her career path.
“When I came to this country, I was trying to get involved again with Girl Scouts because I was a Girl Guide. For me, it was the perfect job because my experience, my background, my entire life is around Girl Scouts, “said Ruiz.
Seventeen years ago, Ruiz immigrated to the United States from Colombia. Being unfamiliar with the language and customs of a new country, Ruiz learned English by listening and taking classes at a local college.
“My life in this country in the beginning was so hard. I saw barriers, and the language was a big one. That’s why I understand those moms,” said Ruiz.
The moms Ruiz refers to are her Hispanic volunteers. In fact, Ruiz’s first experience with Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council was as a volunteer. That, in addition to her experiences acclimating to American culture, led Ruiz to her current position for which she is so perfectly suited.
“It’s a blessing to be [a] Hispanic Development Manager. When we started this program, it was to work with the girls, but we decided to focus this program more on developing leadership in moms in order to become a role model for the girls,” said Ruiz.
By the second year, the program had grown significantly. In the third year, retention had skyrocketed. However, with great success often comes great responsibilities.
“There are many things on my plate, but [what I always] bump on top is to communicate with volunteers,” said Ruiz. “Most of them are facing difficult times to accommodate, to understand different culture. Everything is so difficult. When you can find that person to at least ask you, ‘How do you feel today?’ – for them it's important. They said, ‘I feel like Girl Scouts is taking care of me too.’”
Since first joining Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council, Ruiz’s work has evolved into something much more than just a career.
“For me it’s not a job. For me it’s my passion,” said Ruiz. “I believe in Girl Scouts because through many years involved in this movement, I saw many generations – my daughters, even my granddaughters. When I saw that, I believed that I had to share this great thing with somebody else.”
When asked about the future, Ruiz remarked on returning to where she began – volunteering.
“I feel like I have time to share with more people,” said Ruiz. “It’s going to be in Girl Scouts. Yeah, definitely!”