It was perhaps inevitable that Julian Castro would enter politics. As children, Julian and his identical twin brother, Joaquin, were formed to accompany their mother to numerous political events. Unenthusiastic at first, Julian eventually developed an interest that led him to pursue a career in public service. Today he is a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet.
Julian and Joaquin Castro were born in San Antonio on Sept. 16, 1974, and grew up in the city's largely Mexican-American West Side. Their grandmother, Victoria, used the $300 she had won in a cooking contest the night before their birth to pay her daughter Rosie's hospital bill. Victoria had arrived in the West Side as a 6-year-old orphan from Mexico in 1920 and never got past fourth grade. She sometimes slept in the same bedroom as her grandsons. Rosie separated from the twins' father, Jesse Guzman, whom she never married, when they were eight.
While Victoria worked as a domestic, Rosie was a Chicano activist who made an unsuccessful bid for City Council in 1971. She had high expectations for her boys and stressed the importance of community service. The twins attended high school, Stanford University and Harvard Law School together. Julian decided to run for San Antonio's City Council while still a senior at Harvard and began fundraising prior to his 2000 graduation. Thirty years after his mother had failed, he earned 61 percent of the vote and became San Antonio's youngest elected city councilman ever. He was reelected in 2003, the same year Joaquin joined the Texas Legislature.
Along with his brother, Julian founded the Law Offices of Julian Castro in 2005. He ran for mayor of San Antonio that same year but lost to Phil Hardberger in a runoff. Undeterred, he ran again and was elected without a runoff in May 2009. A major focus was rejuvenating the downtown area. Castro's guidance helped the city open Cafe College, which provided any student in the city with advice in the areas of financial aid, college admissions and preparation for standardized tests, in 2010. It served more than 5,000 students in its first year. Castro was chosen for the World Economic Forum's list of Young Global Leaders in March 2010, and Time magazine included him on its "40 Under 40" list of up-and-coming American politicians that October. He was reelected in 2011 with 82 percent of the vote.
In September 2012, Castro became the first Latino to give the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. Naturally, Joaquin was there to introduce him to the Charlotte, N.C., audience and the millions watching on television. During his speech Julian praised his mother and grandmother and described the American dream as a "relay" that is passed on from one generation to the next. He also sharply criticized the Republican ticket's economic platform. Noting that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney had told students they should borrow money from their parents, Castro asked, "Gee, why didn't I think of that?" Joaquin was elected to Congress later that fall.
Castro received 67 percent of the vote and was elected to a third term as mayor in May 2013. Obama nominated Castro to be the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on May 23, 2014. Castro was confirmed by an overwhelming margin on July 9. He resigned as mayor on July 22 and was sworn in as HUD Secretary six days later.