Alumna Mari Salazar ’95, MBA ’99, Honored by Comcast With Hispanic Hero Award
Mari Salazar ’95, MBA ’99, was born to migrant farmer parents who passed away when she was only 16. But the remarkable couple had already planted the seeds for faith, education and happiness to grow in their children.
Salazar, now the senior VP – regional manager of Energy Financial Services for BOK Financial, said, “I was taught that education was the path out of poverty. My father would always say, ‘There are two ways to earn your money in this world, with your back or your brains.’”
With her brains, Salazar has achieved career success. But it is her generous heart, another seeded gift from her mother, that caught the attention of Comcast. During Hispanic Heritage Month, the telecommunications company presented Salazar with one of its prized 2021 Hispanic Hero Awards. Comcast’s sixth annual event honored eight individuals for “their commitment to making a difference in the community through volunteerism, mentorship, advocacy and civic engagement.”
Most of the organizations that Salazar commits to involve education and include the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLS&R); the Endowment Board for Small Steps Nurturing Center; the board for Texan’s linebacker Whitney Mercilus’ WithMerci Foundation; and she is indispensable on the St. Thomas Alumni Board. An example of her outreach at UST is the Maria Cruz Salazar Interview Closet. Named after her kindhearted mother, the closet is stocked with professional wardrobe items to help students who struggle financially to “look the part” when interviewing for that dream job.
The outstanding alumna explains her drive to give back.
“I was fortunate to have so many people help me throughout my life,” she said. “I had teachers who would give up their breaks to tutor me and catch me up, since I often had to move from school to school as my parents followed the crops for work. At St. Thomas, professors took an interest in my development and taught me to think outside the box. And in my career, people were willing to take a chance on me and mentor me. So my drive to help others is my simple way of paying it forward.”
Comcast is further celebrating Salazar and its other honorees by donating $1,000 to the nonprofit organization of each individual’s choice. In keeping with her generous nature, Salazar stepped up to do even more.
She said, “I directed the Comcast donation to Small steps Nurturing Centers, which focuses on early childhood education. However, I decided to match that donation to the various other organizations I’m involved with currently. They include Society for the Performing Arts, University of St. Thomas, WithMerci Foundation and The Go Tejano Committee for the HLS&R.”
Reflecting, Salazar said that her parents would be surprised at all she has achieved. But the investment banker explains that she is just following their impressive example to be happy and give back.