From Mexico to Gilbert, Immigrant Finds New Home

A beautiful sunset over the downtown area in Gilbert, Arizona.
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“Looking back on it, I’m so glad it happened. Moving to a different country really gave me the ability to accept and overcome any type of change,” said Dora Rios. “I am not afraid of anything because of it.”

Born and raised in Mexico City, Dora Rios spent the first 12 years of her life growing up in a neighborhood about five miles northeast of Mexico’s capital city. With one older brother and three older sisters, Rios was the youngest child in her family unit.

Both of her parents were elementary school teachers, but her mother Elizabeth had the special job of teaching English as a second language. Religion was also a huge part of their culture as the family devoted each Sunday to church and the worship of God.

“It was really nice growing up in Catholicism,” said Rios’s sister Ana Levesque. “We learned at a young age to always to find a balance between what we wanted and what we actually needed.”

Upon reaching high school, Rios and her family relocated to the United States, specifically the border town of El Paso, Texas. None of the children were forced to learn English growing up in Mexico City, so the language barrier proved to be a major challenge.

“It was very uncomfortable going to school and not being able to understand the kids around me,” said Rios. “You come in knowing nothing and are immediately expected to learn everything.”

The years flew by and Rios would go on to graduate from University of Texas- El Paso with a degree in marketing and management. She then moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado where she began her first job in the sales department at Dillard’s.

It was here in Colorado that life would really take off as she met her future husband, Jerry Rios, while working at Dillard’s. The couple would then marry in 1996 before moving to Peoria, Arizona. Once in the Valley of the Sun, the newly weds would welcome their two children to the world, a daughter by the name of Vanessa and a son named Diego. While here, Jerry would continue to climb the ranks of Dillard’s while Dora would venture into the realm of banking.

“Our life has been crazy,” said Rios. “A lot of people are scared of moving, scared of changing jobs, but I embrace it. I know how much of a blessing it truly is to be able to live in the U.S., so that’s what I try to focus on everyday.”

Soon enough, Arizona would be just another place on the checklist as the family once again packed up to relocate. California would be the next area they called home as they settled down in the small vineyard town of Lodi, about 25 miles south of Sacramento. It was a brief stay, however, as Rios and her loved ones only stayed in the San Joaquin Valley for two years before moving back to Gilbert, Arizona in the summer of 2015.

“She is an amazing lady with an amazing family,” said family friend Tori Salazar. “Her perseverance and positivity through everything has inspired me since the day I met her.”

Ultimately, Rios just wants to live happy and in peace, no matter where that may be. Seeing her children become successful is the ultimate goal.

“It is important to me that my kids know my roots and where I come from, but also that they build their own identity,” she said. “I will always be here because I am their mother, but I push them everyday to be the best version of themselves.”

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