Published 9/29/2012 in Local News
By ANGIE HAFLICH
Staying in school and not allowing obstacles to hinder progress was the message that high school juniors and seniors received Friday morning at Garden City Community College, as part of the school's Hispanic American Leadership Organization's 25th Annual Hispanic Student Day.
Becky Malewitz/Telegram Members of the Garden City High School Folkloric Dance group perform in the GCCC gym during the 25th annuall Hispanic Student Day Friday morning.
Becky Malewitz/Telegram Sonia Esquivel speaks with high school students during the 25th annual Hispanic Student Day held at GCCC Friday morning. Esquivel, a Garden City High School graduate, is a faculty member at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Becky Malewitz/Telegram A member of the Garden City High School Folkloric Dance group performs in the GCCC gym during the 25th annuall Hispanic Student Day Friday morning.
Sonia Esquivel, GCHS graduate and now an assistant professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., urged the Hispanic high school students from western Kansas to follow their dreams. As she explained how being an immigrant, a teen mom and eventually a doctor has shaped who she is today, Esquivel got choked up.
"It's those life experiences that we go through, that you guys are going to go through, that are going to shape you into who you'll be," she said.
Esquivel shared with the students the four main causes for the high rate in Hispanic high school dropouts: teenage pregnancy, gang involvement, lack of parental involvement, and peer pressure and bullying.
"Now why is that? Why is that?" she asked, adding that while her road to success was filled with detours, with the help of others, she was able to make it.
"I would be a fool to stand here and say I did it by myself, because I didn't," she said.
She urged the students to find positive role models to help them along their way, as she shared how mentors shaped her own life.
"Grab onto a mentor, and if you don't have one and can't think of one, come see me after today because I am so passionate and so invested in all of you to break that stereotype that Latinos don't graduate from high school," Esquivel said.
One of Esquivel's mentors, Lydia Gonzales, who was on hand for the event, founded Hispanic Student Day in the mid-1980s. She was a GCCC staff member and longtime director of the LULAC Education Service Center on the college campus.
"The goal is to empower participating students from all over Western Kansas to continue their education and to make choices that will enhance their opportunities for higher learning and in the job market," said Kurt Peterson, co-organizer and Student Support Services staff member.
The visiting students from high schools in Garden City, Holcomb, Hugoton, Moscow, Ulysses and Scott City were provided with information about financial aid, shared by GCCC Director of Student Financial Aid Kathy Blau, and about how to pay for college, shared by Melinda Harrington, GCCC assistant financial aid director.
GCCC President Herbert Swender also addressed the students, sprinkling his admittedly limited Spanish in.
"Buenos dias — good morning. Bienvenidos to Garden City Community College — welcome to Garden City Community College. Soy el presidente, I am the president of GCCC. Beyond that and ordering huevos rancheros, that's the extent of my Spanish," Swender said with a laugh. "But I'm working on it."
Swender told the students that GCCC is ranked as one of the top community colleges in America.
"The GCCC faculty and staff ... we want to provide every opportunity we can for you to be successful and choose the career path that you want to be in and be there to help you be successful," he said.
Dean of Student Services Ryan Ruda explained to the students that future employers are seeking not only candidates with higher education, but also those who possess strong leadership and communication skills.
The day's events also included a virtual tour of the GCCC campus, a presentation about financial aid for college, a performance by the Garden City High School Folkloric Dance Group and a fashion show. Students also had the opportunity to win scholarships — a $300 GCCC scholarship and a $200 HALO alumni scholarship — through a drawing held at the end of the event.
"We conduct the activities as a way of encouraging young people to stay in school and advance to college or technical education," said Manuela Vigil of the GCCC Student Support Services Program. "With these experiences, the students can imagine success and value for themselves and see first-hand that academic and professional success is a possibility for anyone who is willing to work hard and take the right steps."
Hispanic Student Day sponsors on campus include the GCCC HALO Chapter, Student Government Association, Admissions and Financial Aid Departments, and the SSS and ETS Programs. Community sponsors include the League of United Latin American Citizens and three retail stores that staged the fashion show: the Deb Shop, The Buckle and Rue 21.
Found 7 comment(s)!
GC Advocate I could not agree more. Let's get rid of the Fiesta, and also those Germans that celebrate Octoberfest can go back to Berlin. This is American! Don't even get me started on those green beer drinking Irish celebrating St. Patrick's day.
Posted by: Tim on 10/12/2012
I have never understood why we cater to the hispanic culture,as if it is something fragile and their youth are far more important than American youth. I see they expect and demand attention, while American values and traditions are thrown to the wayside. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that they get special treatment strictly because they are hispanic. I feel as if my kids are in competion with foreigner's to get a decent education.
Posted by: Annoyed American on 10/8/2012
You said it "U.S.A"
You said it "U.S.A."! It's sort of like "The Fiesta". Why would you celebrate the independence of a country you left because the conditions are bad all the way around?
Posted by: GC Advocate on 10/7/2012
why dont you have an American student day? we live in the U.S.A. NOT mexico!!!
Posted by: U.S.A. on 10/7/2012
Chela, just because Sonia Esquivel worked hard, she does not need to be called "Dr." everytime she is referenced. We all work hard and many of us have several degrees. Her hard work does not entitle her to any special consideration.
Posted by: GC Advocate on 10/6/2012
She worked too hard for you not to say Dr. Sonia Esquivel every time you said her name.
Posted by: Chela Esquivel on 9/29/2012
Deeper than that
I have to disagree with some of the reasons as to why Hispanics drop out!! Their parents do care, ask any student and they will tell you that their parents want a better life for their kids! Also not all Hispanics are involved in gangs! Some excuses I hear for not finishing school are monetary. Hispanics get Americanized, by this I mean they want to be like their Caucasian peers and have the material things, like a car, nice clothes etc. so what do they do? They drop out and try to find a job so they can get a nice truck, clothes etc. then they realize to have those things it takes money to pay for them, gas, insurance! They dig themselves in a bigger hole and some won't ever get out and the cycle then repeats itself! In my humble opinion if any student wants the American dream, they have to work for it, stay in it for the long haul and eventually it pays off by having stayed in school learning a profession or a trade!
Posted by: Someone who cares on 9/29/2012