By Jaime Margolis
When Elena De Peña was growing up, her parents emphasized the importance of a good education. Her father was a mechanic and her mother ran a grocery store in San Benito, Texas; De Peña said they set a good example for her and her siblings.
Born Elena Tamez, she and her sister Rosa wanted to be nurses after they graduated from high school, and their mother insisted they follow their dreams. They attended George Peabody University in Tennessee, where they received training in public health.