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Hispanic Heritage Month: Ms. Coralis Rodriguez Discusses How Her Puerto Rican Heritage Contributed to Her Success as an Auditor

By DCAA Staff Writer

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When an array of ideas, traditions, and customs come together, something magnificent is formed. As a Puerto Rican, I have experienced firsthand how the Puerto Rican culture is a living example of how that happens—diversity and inclusion are just an integral part of who we are and has clearly shaped who I’ve become. Culturally we are passionate people, and I credit much of my success today to channeling that passion into dedication and commitment into everything I do. 

I am from Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, we have a rich heritage from Spain, Africa, and our native Indians, Taínos. The blend of influences that shape our culture is really noticeable in our music, where you’ll hear traditions of Spanish Flamenco, the percussion of African music, and the unique handheld instruments from our Taíno Indians. Puerto Rico has several genres of folkloric music/dances, each influenced by our different heritages: plena, bomba, and danza. As time passed, Puerto Rico embraced other music like salsa, which originated in Cuba, but adapted as uniquely Puerto Rican by other instruments and adjusting the tempo. 

I stay connected to my heritage through food, music and our first language, Spanish. I’ve danced my whole life, in a variety of styles, mostly Latin ballroom. Many traditional and modern Puerto Rican dances require a partner. However, I discovered that flamenco could easily be danced independently, so I jumped right in. I learned the roots of flamenco, how Spain influenced our music in Latin America, and how our music influenced Spain as they took back the melodies and tempo from Latin American music. These cross migrations of music and dance resulted in genres like rumba flamenco, tanguillo flamenco, and guajiras, among others. I’ve been dancing flamenco for 14 years, and had the opportunity to join a student company in Arizona, 2012-2016, where we performed all around the valley.

I was an accounting major as an undergraduate, which is when I first learned about DCAA. The agency had sent auditors to speak to our accounting classes and conduct interviews. I interviewed and was hired to start with DCAA in the spring of 2008.

I relocated from Puerto Rico to Northern Virginia to start my career in Field Detachment (FD). I was in FD for a couple years, and then moved to Arizona to join a growing office there. I was promoted to Senior Auditor, worked as an FAO Assistant for Quality, and later became a Supervisory Auditor. When I saw an opportunity to work for the Policy Directorate, I relocated back to Northern Virginia.

DCAA was a great fit with my Puerto Rican appreciation of diversity. I appreciate change, our ability to move throughout the organization, the new opportunities and challenges DCAA gives me, and the way our agency stretches us as individuals. As an auditor, I had the opportunity to work in FD, resident offices, and on mobile teams. Each contractor type (or size) exposed me to new challenges, development, and growth. Working on strategic action teams has given me insight into other organizational components and are a great way for us, as employees, to address new challenges we might not otherwise experience.

My Puerto Rican culture—with its rich history of inclusion and celebration of diversity—has made me a better team member and a better leader. I’m proud to be a part of this agency!