400 Minority 9th Grade Students, Two Workshops and Gratitude

I had the pleasure recently of leading a pair of workshops for 9th graders, about 90% of them Latinos from San Francisco Bay Area schools. The occasion was the Puente Program Northern California regional conference at the spectacular University of California at Santa Cruz.

This is  an annual gathering of mostly (but not exclusively) Latino high school students who may or may not be thinking of attending college. The goal of the conference was to expose them to people who will expand their horizons and provide the long-term view of higher education. Legendary Chicano educational activist Sal Castro, me and others who presented that day made an irrefutable case for why they MUST go to college. We were present to show them the role models and success stories, while answering their many questions.

I want to give a shout out and gracias to two of the stars of Latinnovating: Carmen Rad of CR & A Custom Inc and Luis Rojas of Evergreen Energy Solutions. Carmen and Luis bought books to donate for the conference; the result was that each attending high school was able to take back two books – one for their library and one for their counseling center. At this event, I felt that this is exactly the model to follow going forward: generous sponsors buying books to give to the students who are chosen for these leadership events. It’s the only model for the middle to high school market that makes sense. Therefore, I will be pursuing these kinds of partnerships and others going forward, since I’ll be speaking in front of many more students in the coming months – I don’t want to leave them empty handed when there is so much they can learn from the journeys of Carmen, Luis and other environmental entrepreneurs!

The back of Sal’s business card says it best “No sean MENSOS. Go to college and GRADUATE!” Thank you Miesha for asking me to be part of this important mission. I look forward to the next opportunity to work together!

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