WMU News

WMU participates in national Latino career day

April 2, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- About 50 students from the Fennville Public Schools will be at Western Michigan University from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, for the first National Career Day for Latino Students.

The U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, a nonprofit organization in Chicago, has launched the special day in conjunction with WMU and some 50 other universities and high schools across the country. It is designed to bring unprecedented numbers of Latino junior and senior high school students to college campuses to learn more about their career and higher education options.

WMU will be focusing on health and human services careers during the day, which also is being set aside to celebrate the birthday of migrant farm worker and activist Cesar Chávez, who was born March 31.

The University's observance of National Career Day for Latino Students is open to all Latino junior and senior high school students in Michigan. In addition to USHLI, the event is being sponsored by WMU's College of Health and Human Services; Division of Multicultural Affairs; Rural Health Education Program; and College Day Program, which is offered through the Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chávez, Rosa Parks Program.

The day will begin with a keynote address relating the life of Chávez to education at 10 a.m. in Room 208 of the Bernhard Center. Following the address, several speakers will present general information about specific health and human services fields, then participating students will attend workshop sessions at 11 and 11:30 a.m. to learn about these career options in greater detail.

The day will conclude with an oral history of Chávez presented by the Kalamazoo group, Los Bandits, at noon and lunch at 12:45 p.m.

Giving the keynote address will be state Assistant Attorney General Santigo Rios, who serves as general counsel for the Michigan Department of Community Health. Rios is licensed to practice law in both Michigan and Illinois and in his current position, is involved with a variety of legal matters litigated in state and federal courts as well as administrative law tribunals.

Previously, he was a senior vice president for Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar & Associates, a national marketing and advertising firm in San Antonio, and was a regional vice president and international attorney and staff director for the McDonald's Corp.

Rios, the son of migrant farm workers and a Michigan native, is active in his community and has long been an advocate of community development. His service activities have included serving as chairperson of the Capital Area Cesar E. Chávez Commission in Lansing, Mich.; helping found the Julian Samora Research Institute at Michigan State University; filling the post of secretary/treasurer for the National Council of La Raza; and sitting on the Lansing Human Relations and Community Services board.

According to Dr. Juan Andrade, USHLI president, the upcoming career day event will communicate a message from the Latino community that "We care about education."

"There is power in numbers," Andrade said, "and if this nation and our community can see thousands upon thousands of young Latinos participating in a National Career Day for Latino Students, our message will be heard loud and clear."

Organizers hope the day will achieve six major goals: help demystify the higher education experience, enable students to envision an edifying experience beyond high school, provide an opportunity for students to make informed choices about their future, get more students on a successful high school completion track, prepare a better educated Latino generation for the future, and create a new consciousness about civic responsibility and being productive citizens.

The USHLI, the nation's largest leadership development organization, is a national nonpartisan organization co-founded by Andrade. The institute has published more than 300 studies on Hispanic demographics; organized and conducted more than 1,000 non-partisan voter registration campaigns, through which two million Americans have registered to vote; and involved some 200,000 people in programs that work with high school and college students, grassroots community leaders, and public officials. It also sponsors an annual conference regularly attended by 8,000 present and future leaders from across the United States.

For more information about WMU's National Career Day for Latino Students, contact Diana Hernandez at (269) 387-3390 or <diana.hernandez@wmich.edu>.

Media Advisory: To arrange coverage of National Career Day for Latino Students or an interview with the event's keynote speaker, call Miguel Ramirez in WMU's Division of Multicultural Affairs at (269) 387-3329.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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