The University of La Verne hosted its second annual Latino Education and Development Conference this Saturday.
Guest speakers and professors helped parents and students understand the importance of college and the opportunities available to them.
Keynote speaker Jose Hernandez, astronaut, told his inspiring story of being raised in a migrant working family working in the fields, to becoming an American astronaut.
He talked about his struggle with being bicultural as a child.
“I tried to Americanize a little bit too much,” Hernandez said.
“I’m here to tell you don’t do that. I’m here to tell you to embrace both cultures.”
In the science, technology, engineering and mathematics breakout session, Hernandez answered questions from the audience and professors.
He told the audience to never give up on their dreams or their child’s dreams.
“Each child is special and put on this Earth for a reason, and it is the parents job to encourage and cater to their child,” Hernandez said.
Some parents also attended a parent empowerment workshop led by Assistant Professor of Education Adonay Montes.
“You are your child’s voice, you all have a voice,” Montes said.
Montes encouraged parents to have a relationship with teachers, counselors and their children to become more involved in their children’s education.
A panel of students explained to parents that schools have resources available to parents and children from Spanish speaking homes.
The more involved a parent is in their child’s life and school the more likely the child will share and succeed, Montes said.
School can be intimidating for both parents and their children.
Their child’s school intimidates some parents because they either do not speak English or do not have the time to spend being involved like other parents, Montes said.
For Latino students, school can be intimidating because their home life and culture is so different from the one they face at school, Montes said.
“We should not be afraid of demonstrating who we are,” he said.
“At the same time we shouldn’t be afraid of embracing the American culture.”
The last speaker was creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Vice President of Multicultural Sales for PepsiCo, Robert Montanez.
He shared his journey from starting off as a child field worker to a janitor for the Frito Lay Company, where he landed an opportunity that changed his life forever.
Although he did not attend college because he needed to work from a young age, Montanez’s determination and drive for success helped him climb the ladder through promotions.
After creating the tasty snack, Montanez was promoted within the company.
Despite his success, Montanez still stays true to his Latino roots.
“Stay true to yourself and work harder than the person next to you,” Montanez said.
“No one is born successful, but we are all born to succeed.”
The event concluded with a free lunch provided by Cardenas Restaurant and attendees were kept entertained with a live Latin band that played familiar latin hits while parents and students walked through a career fair.
Latino authors were available to sign autographs and talk about their books at booths set up by the Campus Center.
Stores and organizations involved in Latino culture set up booths promoting themselves.
Rachel Sandoval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.