Erasmo Cortez

Erasmo Cortez
Episode 127

Join host Japhet De Oliveira for an inspiring conversation with Erasmo Cortez, Administrative Director for Grants at Adventist Health, as they discuss growing up in a large family, facing financial struggles, and the importance of faith, forgiveness, and building others up.
Libsyn Podcast
"...there was always something tugging at me, and it was the Lord, I know now in retrospect, that he had bigger plans for me."

Narrator: Welcome friends to another episode of The Story and Experience Podcast. Join your host, Japhet De Oliveira with his guest today and discover the moments that shape us, our families and communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, welcome friends to another episode of The Story and Experience podcast. I'm delighted today with my guest today that I literally heard him speak this morning at a meeting. He was sharing part of his story and I said, "Hey, if I can get you today, I'm going to record you straight away." So brand new, within minutes of hearing his story, I think you'll be delighted as well. If you're brand new to the podcast, we have 100 questions, they progressively become more vulnerable the closer you get to 100, and the guest gets to choose between one and 100 where they want to go, and share stories and experiences that shaped their life. So I'm going to begin straight away with the first 10, and then I'll hand it over to you. Could you tell us your name and does anybody ever mispronounce it?

Erasmo Cortez: My name is Erasmo Antonio Cortez Junior and the first name gets mispronounced a lot.

Japhet De Oliveira: Erasmo.

Erasmo Cortez: Erasmo.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right.

Erasmo Cortez: And I've been called Eraser, Erasamo, and my oldest son who's also Erasmo, he got called Aragamo.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh wow, okay. That's unique.

Erasmo Cortez: Very unique.

Japhet De Oliveira: So Erasmo, is that good?

Erasmo Cortez: Mm-hmm.

Japhet De Oliveira: Brilliant. Could you share with us what you do for work?

Erasmo Cortez: Sure. I'm the administrator for grants here at Adventist Health in California and what I do is I run a grants team that we go out and look for funding to help build facilities. We also raise a lot of money to do primary care training in underserved communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh wow.

Erasmo Cortez: And just a lot of things that the budgets don't allow for but we're able to go out and get funding that allows us to do these extra things for the communities.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic. So have you been doing this long?

Erasmo Cortez: 35 years.

Japhet De Oliveira: A fair time then?

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: You said you actually, you get grants to help get primary care training?

Erasmo Cortez: Yes. That's where I started 35 years ago. Some people at White Memorial Medical Center in East Los Angeles called me and asked me to join their team in help writing grants and so we were writing grants for a family medicine residency program. And at the time when that residency program started, there was only one primary care doctor that was certified in all of East Los Angeles, which is one of the largest communities in California. And since then it's turned into, it's blossomed into a 21 resident... no, I'm lying, they've expanded... 28 I think, so they train 28 residents at a time. And as they're graduating they're trying to capture them to stay within the local market. So now they've placed plenty of people. There's three or four medical groups, large medical groups in the area now, all of them family-trained physicians.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic.

Erasmo Cortez: And they're working in the community serving the underserved.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now this is important to you, I know this is important to you.

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: You've got to tell us why it's important to you. I mean, obviously raising money, grants, helping out, but this particular area, tell us that.

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah, it's very important to me because I grew up in a family of 15 brothers and sisters.

Japhet De Oliveira: Small.

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah, yeah, small family. Same parents, by the way, there was no multiple parents. And growing up we were poor, although we didn't know it because there was food on the table. But I shared earlier today that I had the fortune and misfortune of holding my mother's hand while she was having a tooth extracted and the tooth was being extracted because she couldn't afford to get it fixed, not because it needed to be extracted. So I remember they did it without anesthesia because they were trying to save money.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh my goodness.

Erasmo Cortez: And I literally held her hand and she squeezed when it hurt. And this is not a long time ago. So I remember making that promise when I grow up, so to speak, and I get a job, my family will never have to experience that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. Well, I'm glad out of the pain you're creating good. But that's still horrible. It's still horrible pain. Hey look, fantastic you've been doing this for so long. I'm going to ask you some kind of practical questions like when you get up in the morning do you have water, liquid green smoothie, coffee, tea, what's your first drink of the day?

Erasmo Cortez: First drink of the day is coffee.

Japhet De Oliveira: Black or?

Erasmo Cortez: A little bit of cream.

Japhet De Oliveira: A little bit of cream, all right. And are you an early riser or a late night owl?

Erasmo Cortez: I'm a late night owl.

Japhet De Oliveira: What's late night for you?

Erasmo Cortez: I went to bed last night at 11 o'clock because I had to get up early. So that was early. My staff will joke about me sending emails at two in the morning, three in the morning.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh okay, you are a night owl, fair enough, that's good. Where were you born?

Erasmo Cortez: I was born in Oxnard, California. Born and raised there. I moved to Los Angeles to go to law school. I lived a little time in Santa Barbara and now I've returned back to Oxnard because when we had our first son we wanted somebody in the family to take care of him.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, that's great. Now when you were a child growing up, what did you imagine you would grow up to be?

Erasmo Cortez: It's really interesting, I'm going to get a little personal on some of this stuff. My brothers, two of my older brothers got involved in selling drugs so there was a lot of criminal activity that I was engaged in. And so the professionals that I saw were police officers, parole officers and attorneys. So I wanted a positive one and so I chose that I wanted to be an attorney. I remember all the way from third grade on thinking that I was going to be an attorney.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now, you did study law though.

Erasmo Cortez: I did. I have a J.D. and I was working with a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles and it turned out I didn't like it. To me, it wasn't he was unethical but it violated my ethics, my personal ethics, and I just couldn't engage it. And then when I got asked to work at White Memorial, I had a history with the Adventist Church or Adventist Healthcare which captured me and I ended up staying.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow. Hey, that's great. All right, off-script, another question not on the list here, it's a bonus question for you. When you're in an environment where you've got that kind of pressure, that kind of environment where drugs and all sorts of things, how do you find your true north out of that? How did you make a different path?

Erasmo Cortez: Well, initially I didn't. I remember at the time, my girlfriend... who's now my wife... she got captured by God's spirit and she started praying, Lord, either get this man to change his ways or get him out of my life.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, really?

Erasmo Cortez: And so she was going to-

Japhet De Oliveira: Now that's a prayer.

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah, so she was going to a youth group and I started going to the youth group because I didn't trust the guys that were there. And we went to a retreat and there was like 28, maybe more, young people that went, and everybody accepted the Lord at that retreat except one person. And that one person was me. And the crazy thing about it is, the reason I didn't is because I was focused on the guy who was praying over me. He had stolen money from me when I was a kid and I just wanted to hit him the whole time.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's complex.

Erasmo Cortez: But I ended up going home that day and my mom and dad, they were having some kind of party, I still don't remember what it was about. And we're sitting at the dinner table with a large family like mine, there was about 70, 80 people there, and I'm sitting at the table and I'm minding my own business and my mom goes, "Hey, why don't you tell me about that retreat? Tell us about the retreat, what happened?"

Japhet De Oliveira: In front of everyone?

Erasmo Cortez: In front of everybody.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, nice.

Erasmo Cortez: So I go, "Okay," and I started sharing and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit hit me and I started crying and everybody goes, "What's wrong with him?" And I looked at them and I said, "Nothing. It's just right now God's getting ahold of me and I'm making him my personal Lord and Savior," and I never turned back.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's a blessing. Okay, I'm holding back but that's a blessing, that's beautiful. Thank you. Erasmus, thank you for sharing that. Hey, if people were to describe you, your personality, would they describe you as an extrovert, an introvert, would you agree with their description?

Erasmo Cortez: I'm an introvert at heart and I've worked really hard to do the extrovert stuff. This interview, a few years back, would not have been.

Japhet De Oliveira: No?

Erasmo Cortez: It wouldn't have been, in no way.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, I appreciate it. That's good. That's good. Here's a leadership question. Are you a backseat driver?

Erasmo Cortez: No. I'm engaged. I believe that we're all called to serve and I don't do the top-down theory. I do the all-inclusive. We're all sitting around the table, we all get our hands dirty, so to speak. But when it comes to credit, I believe giving the credit back to the staff, just bringing the whole thing 100%. Because I was always a person on the outside from the life I live now, and now I'm on the inside and I want to make sure that anybody who's part of my team feels completely included.

Japhet De Oliveira: And you have an amazing team you talk about.

Erasmo Cortez: I do, I have a fantastic team. Many of them grew up in similar situations like I did and I've overcome it. And one of my greatest joys, which I shared today also, is when I see somebody from my staff that expands their horizons, they go out and get their education or they get better jobs. I had a secretary one time who is now the manager of a very successful workforce development program in East Los Angeles.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow, that's great. That's great. Now just for our listeners, how much money did you raise through grants for all these community projects and doctors and... just like last year?

Erasmo Cortez: Last year was 47 million.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right. All right, so not pocket change.

Erasmo Cortez: But I did a retrospect for the last three years, and prior to three years ago we didn't have a systems-wide grants team. And over the last three years we raised $108 million.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's amazing. That's amazing. Hey, well done. Well done.

Erasmo Cortez: Thank you.

Japhet De Oliveira: Thank you for that work. That's great. All right, the floor is open. You get to pick a number between 11 and 100. Where would you like to go first?

Erasmo Cortez: Let's go with 20.

Japhet De Oliveira: 20, all right. Tell us about something you would give 10 out of 10, you would say that's worth 10 out of 10?

Erasmo Cortez: Anything?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, anything.

Erasmo Cortez: Okay, let's go back to that workforce development program. I give a 10 out of 10 to that program because in East Los Angeles they have about 55% dropout rate for high school. So that means that 55% of kids that start school do not finish. What leads them to that? There are many variables. Well, that program in East LA is the same students and they have nearly 100% graduation-

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic.

Erasmo Cortez: ... from high school and 100% almost going to college and completing their degree.

Japhet De Oliveira: See, that's great. That's great.

Erasmo Cortez: So when you offer that opportunity, I've heard it said that children will rise to the level of expectation, and when they're given an expectation... they can be a doctor, they can be a nurse, they can be a social worker... then all of a sudden it means something to them.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right. Hey, it's good. Love that. All right, that was 20. Where next?

Erasmo Cortez: Okay, let's go with 30. We'll go up by tens.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, 30. Tell us about something that you're really looking forward to.

Erasmo Cortez: I'm really looking forward to seeing how this team that I currently have, we've been expanding. We started off with me and another guy and then we added two directors. Now we're at five directors, two managers, and three coordinators.

Japhet De Oliveira: Fantastic.

Erasmo Cortez: So I'm looking at expanding because with every dollar that you bring in, you bring in another dollar of responsibility. So you've got five people and over the last three years there's $108 million responsibilities, so you need to expand your team. So just watching to see where it grows. And a great, great thing for me is to see who's going to take over. I'm 62 now so I'm not going to be doing this forever. So there's a couple of people on the team that I think they can do it.

Japhet De Oliveira: You're young, you'll be fine. You've got plenty of time. Now you have grandkids, right?

Erasmo Cortez: I do, I have three grandkids, Ezra Mar, Isla Rose, and Silas Dean.

Japhet De Oliveira: Joy of your life, right?

Erasmo Cortez: Oh, absolutely. Grandchildren are God's gift in response to all the work you had to do with your kids.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's true. That's true. That's true. All right, you want to go next to the 10?

Erasmo Cortez: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, that's 40. So tell us about a time that you failed.

Erasmo Cortez: Oh wow, so many.

Japhet De Oliveira: We all do. We all do.

Erasmo Cortez: Well, one of the ones that I was asked to focus on today during the talk earlier was when I graduated from law school and there was an opportunity for me to take a job that nearly tripled my pay. And without thinking about it, I said, "Absolutely, I'll do it." Literally, I was accepting the job over the phone without even interviewing. And I went into it and the first day I started working I was asked to do something compromising. Now, I said no and I didn't do it, but I should have known right there that this place is not for me. And it went on like that for about a year and a half. Eventually through a lot of struggle and personal things that happened, the Lord met me where I was at. I like to say he knocked me off my proverbial camel on my road to Damascus and said, "You know what? It's time to do what I want you to do."

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's fantastic. All right, that was 40, so 50?

Erasmo Cortez: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, share with us who has influenced you professionally?

Erasmo Cortez: Professionally?

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Erasmo Cortez: Dr. Hector Flores is probably the number one person who has influenced me professionally. I met him when I first started working at White Memorial. He was one of the founding directors of the residency program and he's also one of the founding partners of Family Care Specialists Medical Corporation. And what they wanted to do is they wanted to create a space where doctors can come in and see the underserved communities like East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, and other communities like it as viable places to practice and earn a living. And they successfully did so. And so I always say that Hector is the smartest man I've ever met. And he is, he's brilliant, and I have a lot of respect for him and what he does.

Japhet De Oliveira: Now does he know this, that you feel this way about him?

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah, but he's very modest. He always just points me away that somebody else does it. I wouldn't be anywhere near successful as I have been in grants if it had not been for Dr. Flores.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. A great tribute to him. All right, next, you good for another 10?

Erasmo Cortez: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, so when in your life have you felt most alone?

Erasmo Cortez: That would've been when my brother was shot. I remember being in the room with a lot of people, my family was all there, but I literally felt like I was by myself. And it was almost like a vortex, I was at the top and I was looking down and everybody was crying and I wasn't crying. But there was great despair going on, but it was just out of this world. I remember being there but I also remember feeling the embrace of God and feeling, okay, I got you during this one. And it was a good thing because I was needed by my family to do some leadership during that time.

Japhet De Oliveira: For those who are listening, if they are ever in a very difficult situation like that, what advice would you give them?

Erasmo Cortez: Stop and think, and think about who is really in control in the world? And our Lord and Savior is in control always. No matter how much we're in despair, he's got it. And if we have faith the size of a mustard seed he says we can move a mountain into the ocean. And I know I lack that faith, but I like to pray, Lord, increase my faith. Help me where my faith is weakest. And during those hardest times, I always wonder people who do not have faith in Christ, I don't know how they function. It's a very difficult space to be in.

Japhet De Oliveira: No, I hear you. All right, well hey, thanks for sharing that. Do you want to-

Erasmo Cortez: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: You're sure? Okay. All right, here we go to 70. Tell us about one thing that you are determined to accomplish. I wish you could see his smile, Erasmo's smile right now.

Erasmo Cortez: I don't like talking about stuff like that. But you know what, I was praying this morning and I was saying, "Lord, whatever I get asked I'm going to try to be honest."

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay.

Erasmo Cortez: Okay, this is going to sound-

Japhet De Oliveira: I think it's hard for you actually. Every time-

Erasmo Cortez: This is going to sound self-righteous though. And my goal is to pierce the executive role level. And it's not for what somebody might think, he wants to be an executive because he wants the prestige or something like that, no. I think it's important for my family to see that. I want my boys to see that somebody who came from the barrio that I came from, La Colonia, can attain these things. That being an American citizen I have a lot of opportunity, but I have to take that opportunity. And so that's my goal, and it's more so for my family because they see me as the patriarch right now, the family, and I want to show my nephews and nieces and grandkids, shoot for the top. Shoot for the top.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, I like it. It's a good vision. It's a good vision. All right. Oh, 80, how would you like to change in the future?

Erasmo Cortez: Who? I just heard a friend of mine, he did a little inspiration for us during an elder meeting at our church, and he talked about tithing, and not in the normal way that you talk about tithing. And what he shared was the Lord wants our first fruits. When Cain and Abel brought their fruits, one brought the first fruits, one brought the second half part, and which one did God want? He wanted the first fruits. And he's never asked us for second best. And so he took it, from that he went, "Well, am I giving God my first time of the day?" And what he was saying is that he prayed at night, he read his Bible at night, but at night it was when he had the least amount of energy. So he's really changed all his thinking and he does all his Bible studies first thing in the morning and he spends one hour with the Lord every morning. And that's something that I hope I can do soon.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's good.

Erasmo Cortez: I want to change that aspect of me because I do it at night.

Japhet De Oliveira: Well, your night is probably our morning though.

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah, pretty much.

Japhet De Oliveira: No. Hey, I like where you're going with that. All right, 90?

Erasmo Cortez: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, tell us about something you overcame that was seemingly insurmountable.

Erasmo Cortez: Okay.

Japhet De Oliveira: Just one. I get the impression you have done a few.

Erasmo Cortez: Oh yeah. When I was in high school, I mentioned my brothers were involved in illegal activities, I started selling drugs too. It's very alluring because there's money all of a sudden. I had a nice car, I had certain things, but there was a part of me that knew that that was wrong. Anytime I got involved in the illegal activities there was always something tugging at me, and it was the Lord, I know now in retrospect, that he had bigger plans for me. And also, the Lord says he won't give us anything that we can't handle, so certain things that make no sense that I didn't get involved in, I didn't get involved in them. But it doesn't make any sense because of what I was doing and where I was at that time. So overcoming that, it was all through the grace of God. And like I said, it happened overnight.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's beautiful. Encouraging as well, and possible.

Erasmo Cortez: Absolutely.

Japhet De Oliveira: Great, where next then? That was 90.

Erasmo Cortez: Let's go with 91.

Japhet De Oliveira: 91, all right. Describe a time in your life where you had to learn about forgiveness.

Erasmo Cortez: Let's go back to my brother getting shot.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay. All right, all right.

Erasmo Cortez: There was three men who walked into a restaurant and started making derogatory comments about my sister-in-law. And one of my nephews, he was an adult, was there with my brother also, and his wife was there. So they were derogatory to both the wives. So my nephew got up and talked to them and they thought it was going to be okay and they shook hands. And when my nephew turned around to walk away, they pulled his jacket over his head and shot him. And then my brother stood up and when my brother stood up they shot him through the hand, but it went through his heart. And my brother died and my nephew survived. I remember being at the wake, because my mom was Catholic, and they told me, "Your mom says you're going to be speaking tonight." I'm like, "Really?" So I got up there and I spoke, but the first thing that I had to do is I had to forgive the three guys that did that.

Japhet De Oliveira: Wow.

Erasmo Cortez: And there was a lot of people there, I mean the church was full and it was all people from this area known as La Colonia, and that's the barrio where I grew up in. So there was a lot of people there with the intent to go do something and I had to get up there and plead with them not to, and to tell them that if they wanted to bless my family, if they wanted to honor my brother, they can do it by not getting involved with any-

Japhet De Oliveira: Without the revenge.

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Erasmo Cortez: But that was hard. And I said it that night but it took me two, three years really to process through that whole forgiveness thing.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah. It's interesting, forgiveness does take time.

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: And sometimes we expect it instantly.

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: But we've got to give ourselves time.

Erasmo Cortez: Oh yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, that's good. That was good. All right, that was 91. Erasmo, where next?

Erasmo Cortez: Let's go back to 85.

Japhet De Oliveira: 85, all right, here we go. Describe a role model you aspire to be like.

Erasmo Cortez: I've always joked with this one gentleman, he was the chair of the board when I first got asked to be on the board of the church I go to. And his name is Jim Gloy. He's gone on to be with the Lord. But I always would say to him, "Jim, when I grow up I want to be a Jim Gloy." And he showed me what it was to be graceful, to be a man honoring of God, the church and his people. And he always inspired me that way. And to be honest, when he died, it impacted my wife and I more so than our family members who had passed away. He had that much impact in our lives.

Japhet De Oliveira: Do you feel you've leaned into that then?

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah? That's great. You enjoy being kind of like the father figure, don't you?

Erasmo Cortez: I do.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, you do.

Erasmo Cortez: I do.

Japhet De Oliveira: And have you felt that your entire life or?

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah?

Erasmo Cortez: Yes. I still remember sitting on my mom and dad's couch as a little boy and fantasizing what kind of family I was going to have.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really?

Erasmo Cortez: Yeah, and what kind of dad I'd be. And remember when you asked me earlier what failure have you ever had and I said I took that job? Well, one of the things that happened that got me away from it was my youngest son, Emilio, he had a baseball game that day. And I said, "All right, Emilio, I'll see you at your game." And as I turned to walk away he goes, "Are you really going to be there?" I said, "What do you mean? I told you I'm going to be there." He goes, "Well, you haven't been coming." That was piercing, and let me tell you, I have turned down numerous jobs, numerous promotions, because I wanted to be at each of their games. My adult sons now have brought that back to me and told me, "That meant the world to us when you did this." They never talk about the money I made or the trips that we'd taken, they always talk about that I was there at their games.

Japhet De Oliveira: Time.

Erasmo Cortez: Time.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, that's valuable.

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's great. We have time for two more final numbers.

Erasmo Cortez: I'm intrigued by this 100.

Japhet De Oliveira: Okay, all right. All right, you want to do 100 first?

Erasmo Cortez: Sure.

Japhet De Oliveira: All right, so tell us about one question that you would rather not answer?

Erasmo Cortez: That's interesting. Now I'm regretting asking this question. One question I prefer not to... I don't know, it would probably be something that if I answered it, it would hurt my wife. I can't think of something I did. But if it hurt my wife... My goal in life is, one of my goals in life is to honor my wife as the perfect partner that God gave me.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, that's good, man. That's good. It's encouraging. How long have you guys been married?

Erasmo Cortez: We've been married 35 years.

Japhet De Oliveira: Really? Fantastic.

Erasmo Cortez: We dated for 10.

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh hey, so it's 45.

Erasmo Cortez: 45, yeah.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's fantastic.

Erasmo Cortez: We started dating our sophomore year in high school.

Japhet De Oliveira: Hey, that's great. It's hard, so give us this then, tell us what's a good secret for a healthy marriage that you would say to anybody?

Erasmo Cortez: Well, I just heard Beth Moore was on a podcast and she talked about if your car needs a tune up you take it to the mechanic. If your body feels sick you go to the doctor. What are you doing for your marriage? In my book, you're always working on your marriage. It always makes me laugh when somebody says, "You're lucky, you and Yvette," that's my wife, "You and Yvette got a great marriage. You guys are great together." I'm like, "You're not there when we're doing the work, and it hasn't always been this great." But we try to get away. We try to do date nights and we do Bible studies together. Studying the Word together is really important. Your wife, men, your wife needs to hear you speak about Christ into their life and you need to honor them and study your spouse, know them.

Japhet De Oliveira: That's really good. That's really good. All right, last one, where do you want to go, sir?

Erasmo Cortez: Why don't you pick one?

Japhet De Oliveira: Oh, I would love to, but I've been faithful not picking any for over 100 episodes.

Erasmo Cortez: Okay, let's go to 98.

Japhet De Oliveira: 98, what is the one great thing that you are capable of achieving?

Erasmo Cortez: Building others. Building others.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah, you love doing that.

Erasmo Cortez: I do.

Japhet De Oliveira: Yeah.

Erasmo Cortez: I really do. I want to see other people succeed. I shared earlier that one of the things that happened to me when I got to college, I was the only one in my family to go to college, and so when I went I told them that I wanted to be a doctor. And the counselor said, "Did you get straight A's in high school?" Well, in high school I was a mess-up. I said, "No." And he said, "Well, then you can't go to med school." And I thought you had to have straight A's in high school to go to med school. So I gave up on that dream. So when I see young people I tell them, "I don't care how bad you messed up, now you've got to do something to clean it up. The work is now." And so I love watching people develop, whether it's my family or just other people who happen had come from the same circumstances I did.

Japhet De Oliveira: Erasmo it's been brilliant to be able to speak to you.

Erasmo Cortez: Thank you. I appreciate it.

Japhet De Oliveira: Thank you so much. I want to encourage people listening to do the same thing. Sit with a friend, ask good questions, learn about them. We are changed. They are changed. We all become better people for it.

Erasmo Cortez: Yes.

Japhet De Oliveira: It's been a blessing.

Erasmo Cortez: The blessing is all mine.

Japhet De Oliveira: God bless you and we'll connect soon everybody.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us for The Story and Experience Podcast. We invite you to read, watch, and submit your story and experience at The Story and Experience Podcast was brought to you by Adventist Health through the Office of Culture.