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Jose Marquez is a dedicated Federationist working hard to do his part for the organization as a leader and mentor. Jose serves the National Federation of the Blind of Texas as First Vice President, Houston Chapter President, scholarship committee member, coordinator of the affiliate’s legislative efforts and is involved with the mentoring program for Texans who are blind or are experiencing vision loss.
Jose was born and raised in Houston in a large family of seven children. He attended public school where he began learning some braille in fourth grade; however, he did not use any alternative techniques regularly until early adulthood. Jose said his childhood was not different from that of his sighted siblings and his family did not discourage him from leading an active life.
“Growing up, my parents didn’t treat me differently than my brothers and sisters,” Jose said. “I ran with them, played all the same games and fell and got hurt like everyone else. Even at a young age, I didn’t hold myself back or get sheltered by my family.”
For high school, Jose attended the High School for Law and Justice, a magnet school for students interested in careers in law enforcement and criminal justice. Jose was interested in pursuing a law degree, but later decided against it.
He discovered the National Federation of the Blind of Texas after graduating high school in 2001. In 2002, Norma Crosby encouraged him to attend the Colorado Center for the Blind PREP Program, a summer program in which blind teenagers learn non-visual skills, a positive philosophy about blindness and gain valuable work experience. Jose attended his first NFB National Convention with the PREP Program in Louisville, Ky. and began to understand that blindness does not define one’s life.
“That is when my perspective toward blindness really changed,” Jose said. “I began to look at myself differently and expect more of myself. I wasn’t ashamed or trying to hide my blindness anymore. I began to use my cane, braille and JAWS. It was a new beginning for me.”
After beginning college at the University of Houston downtown campus, he later transferred to Texas A&M University in 2003. There, he met other passionate Federationists and became very active on campus recruiting new members. Jose graduated in 2006 with a degree in International Studies, and he was the first in his family to earn a college degree.
“My college experience was wonderful,” Jose said. “My most memorable achievement was my internship in Costa Rica in 2006. There, I worked at the National Bank of Costa Rica and stayed with a host family. It really took me out of my comfort zone and I grew much more in that new environment.”
After moving back home in 2007, Jose became active with the Houston Chapter. He was asked to sit on the state board in 2010 as Second Vice President. In 2012, he was elected as the Houston Chapter President coincidentally when the other potential candidate was absent during the nomination, and he has served as chapter president ever since.
“Being chapter president these last few years has taught me a lot about myself,” Jose said. “I have grown and matured more with this position on a personal and professional level. I have a wonderful board and chapter members that are very motivated, which makes my job much easier. The president shouldn’t always be telling everyone what to do; the president should be working hand in hand with members and board members.”
Jose currently works in Houston as a Certified Medical Interpreter.
“I never imagined myself becoming an interpreter, but I always did dream of working in the medical field,” Jose said. “It wasn’t until about a year in I realized I had accomplished that dream. I never know what to expect in my job. I could interpret for a woman giving birth, someone in the ER or a prisoner in the psych ward. There is something new every day.”
Regardless of his position with the organization, Jose is dedicated to spreading the Federation message to others.
“I love the NFB and what it stands for,” Jose said. “I do this work from the bottom of my heart; it doesn’t matter if I am First Vice President or even have a position. I will work hard and do my best. I think all of us should give 110 percent.”
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