Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of Latino and Hispanic communities in September. In celebration of this day, OPA HQ interviewed a few of our colleagues about the significance that Hispanic Heritage Month holds for them. Here, we spotlight HSI's Carol T. Kohn.
Title: Special Agent Carol T. Kohn
Department: Homeland Security Investigations
Time with DHS: December 2006 (approx. 16 years)
What makes you most proud about your heritage?
There is a “Tremendo Orgullo" (or tremendous pride) in being a Hispanic. Historically, as Hispanics we have faced numerous struggles which we have had to overcome. Those struggles have allowed us to become strong leaders in our community and continue to shape who we are today.
My culture and traditions are deeply rooted and imbedded in who I am, and I am proud of how much my heritage has to offer. It has rich food, spectacular dances, and a beautiful language that stems from our family history. We also have an understanding that family comes first.
How has your background shaped who you are today?
My family, who is Puerto Rican, has been instrumental in shaping who I am today. My parents are my role models, and they taught me the importance of familia. I am one of their three daughters, and they taught us to overcome challenges, stand up for ourselves, and to fight for what we believe in. Also, I grew up in a Catholic home, where I was taught to have faith and to trust God.
Can you speak about an obstacle that you've overcome?
I became a single mother raising two boys shortly after I started my career in law enforcement. I learned how hard it was to be the best mom and dad (all at the same time), and to protect and guide my children, all while being a successful professional. I worked hard to raise happy and healthy children, and eventually remarried and had my third child.
In November 2019, I had to face the biggest challenge a mother could ever endure in life. I lost my firstborn by suicide. At that precise moment, I went back to the values learned from my parents and decided to turn a tragedy into a positive outcome. I decided to continue my oath to public service in law enforcement, but this time adding another mission in life. I developed a non-profit organization to support and empower our children and youth to overcome the challenges of bullying and cyberbullying..
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I love my heritage and I hope that my story encourages others excel despite their circumstances to be Hispanics that are proud of who they are.