Our American Dream: From Dishwasher to Business Leader - Thanks Abuela

Across the United States, in all fields of endeavor, Latinos are working to uphold their place in American society. Fox News Latino is proud to present "Our American Dream" – a series of snapshots and profiles of Latino success stories.       

To know Pablo Schneider is to know the legacy of his abuela - Margarita Muñoz de Seraballs.

“I hope you graduate before I die,” she often reminded Schneider, 48,  of the weight of expectation she had on him and her five other grandchildren growing up.

Born in 1904 in Puerto Rico, Muñoz de Seraballs, or "Abuela," came to New York City in 1924, becoming a small business owner, running a pharmacy and retail store in the 1940’s.

For the late Muñoz de Seraballs, education was everything.

It was her life’s goal to make sure her family went to college. But when a teenage Schneider decided to drop out of high school to opt for work in multiple restaurants as a busboy, waiter, and dishwasher, Abuela was beside herself.

“Abuela went ballistic,” he recalled.

From that day forward, Schneider, CEO of the Wider Net and Special Advisor to APC Holdings, rededicated himself to pursue his dreams, ultimately becoming a national leader whose goal is to empower and elevate Latino business professionals in all areas of society.

“I’m on a mission, it is part of my life’s work to help people advance,” Schneider said.

This is no understatement.

As founder and chairman of the Renaissance Dinners, an initiative dedicated to developing and advancing diverse in top leadership, Schneider is helping Hispanic professionals prepare themselves to serve on non-profit, private company, corporate, and government boards.

“My mission is to help connect Latinos with the 10,000  board members who serve on the boards of the Fortune 1,000 companies,” he said emphasizing the importance of the weight of personal relationships in corporate America

Schneider’s journey from high school dropout to a business leader was paved with hard work.

Schneider’s restaurant work cleaning toilets, serving, and busing at multiple restaurants after dropping out his sophomore year of high school continued for the next decade.

It was in this time that Schneider rededicated himself to his education in the San Diego area of California where he grew up.

He studied for nine of the next 14 years, earning an associate’s degree in community college, then getting his bachelors and masters degrees from San Diego State University.

“It was a pivotal time in my life,” he said.

It was in his days working as a dishwasher while paying his way through college that he garnered his thirst for helping others, and joined national Hispanic organizations in an effort to mentor and empower Latinos on their own journeys to success for more than the past  20 years.

Schneider, a father of five children, is also a contributing editor to Latino Leaders magazine, where he writes a personal and inspirational business column called “”Keeping Up with Pablo.”

He is also the special editor of the Latino Leaders Corporate Edition, which he started in 2008, publishes once a year, and is now the gold standard for identifying the nation’s All-Star lineup of Latino board candidates as well as Latino board members of some of the biggest names of the Fortune 1000 companies.

“To me success is the fulfillment of one’s purpose, and for me there are five steps of success -- purpose, goals, plans, action, and results, which are measured by how well you are fulfilling your purpose in life,” Schneider said.

As a business executive for the last 21 years, he believes this is the essential blueprint that Latinos all over the country should follow.  He also believes Latinos need to figure out how to measure their success.

“What’s on your yardstick?” he asks. “Is success only wealth, power, and fame or does it include the people’s lives you touch?”

For Schneider that decision is an easy one that was laid out fundamentally by his personal hero and mentor – Abuela.

“At the end of the day it’s critical to include touching peoples’ lives as part of the equation,” he stated.

Abuela died at the age of 90, but not before realizing the fulfillment of her American Dream. All six of her grandkids have amassed a total of 13 college degrees in a range of fields.

“She was a spiritual giant and she was more intense than most senior corporate executives,  elected officials, and board members,” he said.

Schneider hopes he can continue to live his own life with this same intensity, and one day become an abuelo, just like her.

And then Schneider recalled the day on which he graduated from college with his bachelor’s degree. He paused and laughed, as he mimicked his abuela’s voice.

“Pablito – a Masters in anything will do,” she told him.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino

Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino