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Her family came north from Mexico to Colorado in the year 1600 according to Colorado History Museum. Two of her great-great uncles, Felipe Baca and Juan Antonio Baca were state senators when Colorado became a state.

Baca said she knew early on that she too would have a career in politics.

"Growing up in Greeley, Colorado there was a lot of bigotry against Mexican Americans. The church we went to was segregated and those are my earliest memories when I was 3 years old," she said.

For Baca, the circumstances of her upbringing in Greeley only contributed to her passion, she said.

"I always say the greatest gift that God ever gave me was being born a female child to a poor Mexican American Family in a bigoted community. Because it was the pain of that bigotry that caused me to have this wonderful, incredible life that I've had," she said.

While her siblings stayed in Greeley to attend college close to home, Baca was the first in her family to leave for Colorado State University.

"I was a physics major when I started college, but the first week I was on campus a woman came to me and said, 'Polly you have to come to start the Young Democrats Club and you're the only Democrat on campus,'" Baca said.

It was at that moment, Baca said, where she got a taste of political life and never looked back.

"As a sophomore in college, at 17 or 18," she recalled. "I won an internship with the state Democratic party to work with the 1960 campaign."

During that campaign she met all of the Kennedys.

While bigotry fueled her passion for change, it was Robert Kennedy's assassination that had a profound impact on her life. She was in Los Angeles when he was killed, working as a deputy director for the Viva Kennedy campaign.

"I think it was then that I realized that life was so fleeting, you have to live in the present moment; you have to do whatever your calling is at this moment in time because you don't know how long you'll be here," she said.

After spending a few years in Washington, D.C., she came back to Colorado, settled in Thornton and decided to run for office in 1974.

"I worked circles around everyone," she said. "It was a lot of hard work and I won the election by one vote."

She ran for a state senate seat in 1978.

"When I ran for the state senate seat in 1978 there had never been a minority woman in the history of the state to ever be elected to the Colorado state senate," Baca said.

Baca is still active in public life today and passionate about motivating other Latinos to run for office. She's co-chair of the Colorado Latino Forum, they conduct candidate development training.

"Don't ever, ever, ever pay attention to those who say you are less than, because you are really more than. It's about working hard and being positive and just knowing you can overcome. If I can do it, anyone can," Baca said.

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