LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Living the American Dream right here in Nevada.
Lt. Gov. Lisa Cano Burkhead's family ties to Las Vegas date back to the days before it was a metropolis. Now this child of immigrant parents is second in command in our state.
"Just a tremendous and incredible honor," said Lt. Gov. Cano Burkhead. "My only regret is that mami and papi aren't still alive to be here. I know that they are watching from above."
She was born and raised in the Las Vegas valley. However, her family's journey started in South America.
Her father was Argentinian and her mother was from Paraguay. They met and married in Argentina and decided to move to Southern Nevada in 1965, in hopes of providing a better life for their family.
Her parents both took jobs in the hospitality industry. Her father worked his way up at casinos — first as a porter before becoming a blackjack dealer.
Cano Burkhead's mother worked at a cleaners before becoming a seamstress at the Las Vegas Hilton and working on various shows, including for the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley, and the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight.
“I think I grew up in a household with parents who had the most incredible work ethic," Cano Burkhead said. "Literally working with their sweat off their backs to make sure that they could provide for us kids."
She used that work ethic she learned from her parents.
For a decade, she taught English and Spanish in Clark County schools. Then, she became dean of students and assistant principal at Eldorado High School. And she was the principal for Foothill High for the past six years.
"A big influence was my parents, but the other half were my teachers and my administrators and that belief system that they had in me," she said.
That's why she is tackling important education issues head-on.
At the top of the list: mental health.
"I think it's important to have those conversations with our families, with our students and with the parents to really understand the different levels and the different dimensions of what has happened to our families in Nevada to be able to address those issues head-on," she said.
She is also talking with state leaders and superintendents about the violence within schools.
Cano Burkhead is serious about helping out schools around the state.
Last week, she filled in as a substitute teacher at Sparks High School in northern Nevada. She said it was a privilege to do that and to help with the substitute shortage around the state.
For the lieutenant governor, it's about representation and giving a voice to people of every background.
"It means everything," she said. "It means what a tremendous opportunity that I share with all children of immigrant parents and with all of my educator colleagues that we have a seat at the table."