How I Found My Cisco Family

October 25, 2016 - 50 Comments

In early June – right in the middle of Q4 – I got one of the most earth shattering phone calls that a person could receive…my mother had passed away.

In a moment that is a complete blur, I had no words. There was no plan for this. I had no idea what to do. I just remember falling to the floor and sobbing uncontrollably.

It was one of the worst moments of my life, yet…it also reassured me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life. Being a part of Cisco and the Global Virtual Sales (GVS) team played a huge role in this.

“Family” should be a relatively simple word, a word some may even take for granted.  For me, I can’t say I have ever truly understood the concept. My whole life my mother was an addict, and I don’t think she knew how to care for anything else but that.

This means that I grew up in trailers with the floors falling out, or even sometimes cars. I was orphaned at 13, put into the foster system, and then sent to a group home. But that didn’t last forever. When I was almost 16 the state decided to give me back to my mom, at which point she kicked me out, and I was on my own again.


I have fought my whole life to have what people would call a family, but always stayed nipping at the heels of it. This “Family” concept always eluded me. Yet, still. Nothing can ever prepare you for the phone call that has Death on the other line.

I felt helpless. I knew this day would come. I just didn’t realize how soon it would come.

It dawned on me, in light of this phone call from Death that I needed to call family. That’s what you do when you receive this kind of news. But what was family to me?

I dialed a number and Heather Herring answered, my team lead. The second call was to my manager Francisco Cortes. Notice a theme here? 😉

The GVS team at Cisco had become the family I have been searching for so desperately. They surrounded me with love and warmth, and I knew I could seek comfort in their words and arms at any time. They came together to support me through every moment of my mother’s death. They saw me at my worst, and they made sure to lift me up higher than I ever had been before.

My whole life I was told I would amount to nothing, but it turns out – that’s not anywhere close to the truth.

Even though the past couple of months have been some of the hardest I’ve ever experienced, I’ve been able to realize all the love that surrounds me here at Cisco, and this helps me to persevere.

I feel my purpose in life is just beginning.  It has been a long road to getting here, but it was worth the wait. Now, I get to focus on things that I am passionate about and truly want to explore more in depth. I no longer need to focus on things I was forced into, but see a totally new light that leads me forward.

I don’t know that I could’ve done this without my Cisco Family. There are so many people here who really care, and who want you to become the best version of whoever you decide to be. It’s an empowering feeling, and one I am glad to have found and be a part of.


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  1. Monica, you are an inspiration to us all in GVS&CS. Your courage, perseverance and resilience in the face of overwhelming challenges is beyond description. I’ll share this with my family and proud to be a part of yours. Heather and Francisco….now, that’s the kind of leadership we can all admire. Well done!

  2. Why they just dont hire me? Cisco I cant understand this thing

  3. Monica C, Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s amazing to see the fighting spirit and focus you have, which got you where you are. You will go places. Coming to CiscoFamily, way to go – keep up the culture.

  4. One of the best blogs I have read on Cisco blogs. Could relate to the feeling of losing a close family member, I too lost my Mom last month. Still trying to cope with the loss and trying to learn to live with the void.

  5. Great story and thank you for sharing and being so open/honest!

  6. So powerful. Thank you for being brave and sharing.

  7. Monica – what a heartfelt message re your story, I’m so pleased you ‘found’ your family. You are an inspiration to me and I’m sure many others. Cisco are fortunate to have you as part of the team/family!

  8. You are the epitome of determination Monica – so inspiring. Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! God bless!

  10. Monica, thank you so much for the courage to share your story. You are truly a gift.

  11. Thank you for sharing your story. It is an inspiration.

  12. One word — inspirational! No comparison to your story, but I lost a grandfather and stepfather to cancer this year so understand loss… as well as the amazing impact the “Cisco family” can have during these times. God bless, you are in our prayers!

  13. Thank you for being so open with us – it is truly inspiring and it takes courage!

  14. Monica – What an inspiring story of courage and perseverance. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am in awe of your positive perspective. You could have pushed blamed for your circumstances, instead you rose above it all to your success. You are a shining example of what one person can do and, with Cisco Family, it can be amplified.

  15. What an incredible story! You are such an inspiration Monica! Your positive attitude is commendable!

  16. My heart breaks for what you went through growing up, but your story of overcoming your circumstances (and thriving in spite of them) is clearly a testament to your character. Congratulations to you!

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a roller coaster ride you’ve been through on your journey finding & understanding family on so many levels. I’m so grateful that you had your Cisco support team to be with you during this difficult time, to hold you up and understand and comfort you. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and share your story. It helps to know we are not alone. So proud of our Cisco family!

  18. Thank you so much for sharing your story. What a roller coaster ride you’ve been through on your journey finding & understanding family on so many levels. I’m so grateful that you had your Cisco support team to be with you during this difficult time, to hold you up and understand and comfort you. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to write to me and share your story. It helps to know we are not alone. So proud of our Cisco family!

  19. You are amazing and very brave to share this heartfelt story. Thank you. It is a pleasure I got to meet you during my time in GVS when I visited NC. May God continue to shine a light on you.

  20. Monica…you are courageous and inspirational! Keep going!

  21. Sending hugs from your Cisco family around the world. Keep on dreaming and achieving! 🙂 We’re cheering you on!

  22. Lovely story!

  23. Monica,

    Your story is inspiring – thank you for the courage to share it! You’re right, it’s just beginning. You define your future.

    I recently read Brene Brown’s book Raising Strong (after Cisco invited her to San Jose to speak at a leadership meeting). I thought you would mind find comfort and appreciation in her words.

    There is no greater threat to the critics
    and cynics and fearmongers
    Than those of us who are willing to fall
    Because we have learned how to rise.
    With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
    We choose owning our stories of struggle,
    Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.
    When we deny our stories, they define us.
    When we run from struggle, we are never free.
    So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.
    We will not be characters in our stories.
    Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.
    We are the authors of our lives.
    We write our own daring endings.
    We craft love from heartbreak,
    Compassion from shame,
    Grace from disappointment,
    Courage from failure.
    Showing up is our power.
    Story is our way home. Truth is our song.
    We are the brave and brokenhearted.
    We are rising strong.

  24. Monica,

    I have to admit, I’m guilty of not always reading these stories. It may have been your incredible smile that made me dive in and I’m so glad I did. YOU ARE AMAZING. I’m so happy you have found family and I do know without the hard times, you don’t realize how wonderful the good are. #Yourareamazing

  25. Your life is a triumph, Monica. Thank you for not shying away from your valuable truth and for sharing it. Your experiences make you who you are and clearly you directed yourself through those experiences, in the most capable way to become productive and successful. Bravo!

  26. Monica – What an incredible story about succeeding against all odds. Your optimism and energy is truly infectious. You are an inspiration to everyone you come in contact with. So lucky and happy to have you as part of our “Northeast SLED Cisco FAMILY”

  27. simply beautiful

  28. Monica, Thanks for sharing your story and agree with others here, it takes a courage and open heart to share such a story. Very true, Cisco is a family and thankful to be part of Cisco. god bless you and Cisco.

  29. Beautiful story, Monica. Happy that you’re happy here! Way to push through all of the adversity throughout your life. #Successaholic

  30. We love you, Monica!

  31. Monica: You are what makes this company amazing. Thank you for sharing your life story and reminding me of all the blessings I have after working for Cisco 21 years. I have no doubt you will give Cisco so much more than we could ever give you back. The best is yet to come.

  32. It took a great deal of courage to share your story. Thanks so much it was inspiring to read. You are the reason why Cisco is such a great place to work at.

  33. You are an inspiration Monica. Thank you for sharing your story.

  34. Monica,

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. It truly moved me. Wishing you nothing but continued success in whatever you do! I get the feeling you will go very far!

  35. Monica – thank you for sharing something so personal with all of us. You have overcome so much adversity to be where you are today – there is no doubt that you will achieve whatever you set your mind to! All the best to you as you faces the challenges and joys ahead.

  36. You are Bold and Brave! Thanks for sharing!

  37. You are indeed a force of nature and a fighter. And still keep smiling and believing in a better place. May God bless you! and KEEP SMILING 🙂

  38. thanks for sharing this with us Monica. I know it is a tough time for you, but we are all here to support you.

  39. Hi Monica
    Thank you for sharing your story. I am happy to hear about how your fellow Cisco team members stepped in to support you, encourage you and help you on your new journey.

  40. Very touching experience, Thank you for sharing.
    Many a times we take things & people around us for granted, without realizing their value, until we lose them.
    I am proud to be part of Cisco family, the closeness one feels among their teams and how easily we are able to transition into new roles and teams is not found anywhere else.

  41. Monica – Thank you for inspiring so many of us… your truly amazing…!!! Wishing you the very best in life ..always..!!!

  42. Monica – Stories like these remind us of the fragility of life and reinforce the importance of friends and family, whatever/wherever it is. You built a family from your colleagues at Cisco and that family is much larger and widespread than any other family you could ever ask for.

    Very inspiring (and thought provoking) words indeed.

  43. You are amazing, Monica. It takes absolute courage to share this story and I am so proud of you. Cisco absolutely becomes your family and we are fortunate to have each other. Hugs to you for your loss.

  44. Thank you for such beautiful and positive words. It was my hope that people would read this and feel empowered, that anything was possible.

  45. You are an amazing woman and so smart and talented as well as a gifted writer. I loved reading your story and can tell that you have an incredible future ahead of you. Thank you for sharing your words of hope and positivity with us. Cisco is lucky to have you!

  46. Monica-Bless you heart! You’ve come through some of the toughest circumstances life could offer with appreciation in your heart and a smile on your face. All the best is yet to come for you!

  47. Monica,
    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for reminding me not to take anything for granted. You’re right in that we are “family” here at Cisco.

  48. Your story made me cry and also to count my blessings. You have so much courage and should be so PROUD of yourself for overcoming so much fear and sadness. Thank you so much for sharing your story and so happy that you have found a family at Cisco and feel that your purpose in life is just beginning. You are choosing to live in the light. You are and will be an inspiration to so many people in your future!!! Love on!!!!!!

  49. Monica – it takes courage to share a story like this. You are a positive influence to all that interact with you.

    Heather, Francisco, and the rest of the Cisco family are always here for you.