Sixteen years ago, the current Wilbraham resident began his career as a dishwasher at an MGM casino in Las Vegas.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Today is the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, a time when the United States recognizes the contributions and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans.

“My mom told me get ready because we was moving to the states...I was like what?!” said Omar Echeverria-Santos.

Over the last decade, Echeverria-Santos has worked his way up the MGM ranks. Sixteen years ago, the current Wilbraham resident began his career as a dishwasher at an MGM casino in Las Vegas. Coming to the United States from the central American country of Guatemala with just the shirt on his back, Echeverria-Santos persevered through the years, though he said it wasn't easy.

“The language is the most hardest part and I'll be honest with you, it's not that I'm complaining, but the bullying and the discrimination of being a Latino. It’s tough,” Echeverria-Santos added.

After working in Las Vegas for 30 years, Echeverria-Santos relocated to the Springfield area, where he was able to advance his career. He now holds the title of sous chef and is ranked the number two chef at MGM Springfield.

“They saw the type of work I did and I became a sous chef and then I become an assistant. Then from assistant, I became sous executive chef and they put me on the task force with MGM resorts, so I open casinos...I opened MGM Detroit and also this property here,” Echeverria-Santos noted.

He told Western Mass News it took a lot of work to get to where he is now.

“Before MGM, I had a lot of people like you’re good for the job, but I don’t think we could give you the job,” Echeverria-Santos said.

Today, Santos helps run a multimillion-dollar food and beverage operation. His wife and children are his inspiration to keep reaching for the stars.

“My wife is happy, my kids are so happy, and umm, I'm happy…We're living the dream living in a different state. Massachusetts is an amazing state,” Echeverria-Santos added.

As for what's next for Echeverria-Santos?

“Ahh, what’s next? To be honest with you, I’m focusing more on my family,” Echeverria-Santos noted.

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