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Hispanic Heritage Month 2016

Young Latinos of the Obama White House: Meet Elías Alcántara

Young Latinos of the Obama White House: Meet Elias Alcantara 3:15

Elías Alcántara, 29, remembers going with his Dad to the neighborhood polling place on every election day.

"That helped spawn, in many ways, the public service direction my life has taken," says Alcántara, whose parents immigrated from the Dominican Republic and instilled in him a strong sense of civic engagement,

The young Latino serves as associate director in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, as a liaison for mayors and local officials across the country.

Named to the Huffington Post's list of "40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics" in 2014, he is most proud of his work on the My Brothers Keeper initiative and the administration's response to Hurricane Sandy.

RELATED: Young Latinos of the Obama White House: Meet Leah Katz-Hernandez

In 2008, he and his father voted side by side for Obama at this same polling location, without any idea he would someday work for the President. The first time he met the President, Obama asked him to tell him something about himself. "I'm from the Bronx," blurted Alcántara. Obama smiled and said that was a "fine place" to be from.

Alcántara has also brought scores of young people from the Bronx to the White House to learn about government.

RELATED: Young Latinos of the Obama White House: Witnesses, Participants in History

The young Dominican American recalled the emotion that hit him the first time he briefed the president in the Oval Office about a mayors' conference.

"It was in that moment that I realized that all the sacrifices my parents made, coming to this country, and all the work that I had done up to this point was actually worth it," he said.

"Here I was, a first-generation American, a kid from the Bronx, having a chance to brief the president of the United States on an effort that is obviously incredibly important for him and for this administration."

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