Living history: students get up close and personal with Latino leaders

By Sherry Spitsnaugle, Communications & Community Engagement

Learning comes in many forms: from reading and writing to hands-on activities that engage children and adults alike. So it’s not surprising that students at Bruce Randolph School got quite an education when they interviewed several of the nominees from this year’s Latino Community Service Awards. We brought the group together so that students could learn about the contributions of the award nominees by listening to their stories and interviewing them.  

In early September, four of this year’s 13 nominees visited the school and spent time sharing their stories as well as answering students’ questions in a small interview setting. Anthony Aragon, Carlos Santistevan, Renee Fajardo and Charlene Ramirez-Mares, shared their time, expertise, challenges and successes with the students.

Following is some of what the students observed:

Charleen Ramirez-Mares, Nominee:

“Many people can use your story of education as a way to compete and pass obstacles in life that stop them from achieving their dreams.” —Karen Zermeno

“When you told us you took children traveling, it made me so happy that you not only cared about your students’ education but you also wanted them to have a great experience at your school and that’s what makes you so bright and inspiring.” Marilu Hernandez

“I learned so much about you which inspired me to do more not only for myself but for my community.” —Julissa Lara

“Ms. Ramirez, you are truly a role model for your students and everyone around you.” —Nancy Ruiz

“Your quote, ‘kids can’t be what they can’t see,’ really opened my eyes. You have encouraged me to keep trying because a long way of hard work = future glory.” — Ana Campos

Renee Fajardo, César Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame inductee

“I know this might sound cheesy, but I somewhat saw myself in you. Talking to you for a short amount of time really impacted me in a positive way” —Yarely Nunez

“I believe that your obstacles made you the person you are now, which really inspires me.” —Hitzary Nunez

“I have always wanted to pursue a career as a defense attorney and seeing that you were able to graduate from law school while being a female Puebloan is so motivating due to the fact that you overcame so many obstacles” —Denise Castaneda

“To me you are like a role model where you want to stand up for those who are scared to speak out and who need a little push of encouragement to tell the world who they truly are inside.” —Jasmine Acosta

Carlos Santistevan, César Chávez Leadership Hall of Fame inductee

“Something that I can relate to is that you and I are hard-working and never give up on what we love. You made me think that even if it’s hard, keep trying and if it’s not perfect try to make it perfect.” —Andrea Flores

“You said that anything is possible if you put in the effort and try your best on everything.” —Charli Rodriguez

“Growing up and choosing a career that will shape your life is difficult, but you weren’t afraid of trying different paths and that’s something I really admire in you. You struggled so much that it makes me value my life as something more.” —Melissa Lara-Serna

“The thought that I had most after hearing your message was do what I love, and I found that very inspiring because a lot of people do jobs that they don’t love and I don’t want to become one of those people.” —Andrea Flores

Anthony Aragon, Eric J. Duran Community Service Award

“You told us not to ‘burn our bridges,’ and at first I didn’t really understand what you meant, but when you began to explain it, I began to think of myself and regret those mishaps.” —Nicole Rocha

“I am grateful for getting to hear your story. For my future I now believe I can do whatever I want no matter what anyone thinks of me or the negative people in my life.” —Tenayah Alvarado

“Your talk inspired me because it encouraged me to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way.”  —Daisy Ruiz

“I really loved you being so ‘out’ to the class, which is hard for me to do most of the time. It was so inspiring to have someone enter my class and be so brave about something so easily targeted. I hope we can work together or collaborate again.” Navaha Jackson

“One thing that you said that stuck with me was to use the 3 C’s (compromise, caring and communication) because in order to have a good relationship with someone or be able to work with someone effectively having these is very important.” —Isabella Riedel

“To see that you came from very little support and with all the odds stacked against you and still see you today with a great job and happy life gives me hope that anyone can make it if they truly work hard and persevere like you did.” —Valeria De La Rosa

“The idea of coming in and talking to judgmental kids can be scary but you made it look easy. When you started I was captivated by your story.” —Melissa Barraza

“The fact that you are a gay man and very involved in the political world is very inspiring to me because I think politics needs a lot more voices like yours.” —Isabella Riedel

Social Studies instructor Doug Moehle helped organize the project, and says that the speakers clearly had an impact on the students.

Written by ChrisH on September 13, 2018