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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Dino Barajas

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Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, we will be sharing our colleagues’ reflections and insights for the next generation of aspiring diverse leaders.

Dino Barajas, Partner and Firmwide Chair of our Project Finance Practice, shares his perspective:

What advice would you give your younger self?

Surround yourself with people that have bigger dreams for you than you have for yourself. In my case, my single parent mother (who had a third grade education herself) dreamed that her son would receive an education and break the cycle of poverty. At each level of education, she helped push me to the next level. Failure was never an option because there was no safety net.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Work hard and don't expect immediate results. Deferred gratification is what ultimately is required to achieve the biggest rewards.

You need to always appear fearless and believe that your hard work will pay off. In some cases, you will start on a road where you cannot see the end goal but believe that sacrifice and determination will be recognized and rewarded. Minor setbacks are just that, minor. Learn from those setbacks and reassess your game plan and continue on. 

What advice would you share with other aspiring lawyers?

Seek mentors. Learn from those that have walked the path before you. In some cases, you will find active mentors who will open their playbook to you to learn from. In other cases, you may find passive mentors who teach by example and you simply learn from their actions as you observe them. Both types of mentors are important.

Did you have a mentor or role model that was instrumental in your career path?

My mentor learned about me and reached out. He wanted to repay a debt he felt he owed to his mentor and I became that vessel. Be open to those who want to help  I seek his advice to this day because I know he has my best interests at heart. His request of me is that I pay it forward. Each mentor should want his/her mentee to exceed the professional achievements of the mentor. I tell my mentees to be careful to ask me to mentor them because I will likely expect more of them than they may expect of themselves. I look forward to them outperforming even my expectations of them and then repeat the cycle with their mentees.

Is there a person in history -- famous or fictional, relative, or friend -- who inspires you?

Aside from my mother, a gentlemen I never met but would watch from my window early each morning has been my greatest inspiration. Despite being a quadriplegic, he would operate his motorized wheelchair using his mouth past my home each morning, rain or shine, to get to his job training center, the HOPE job training center in San Jose. I would watch him go by my home each day at 7am and I was in awe of his determination and sacrifice. Any time I feel challenged, I remember him and know I have no excuses to not persevere. He inspired a young kid he never met. I hope in some small way, I can do the same.

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