The Valley of the Sun Plays Host to CHCI’s First R2L Event of the Year

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CHCI hosted its first Ready to Lead (R2L) event of the year in Phoenix, Arizona. Over 150 students, representing nineteen area high schools, gathered at the South Mountain Community College (SMCC) campus on Saturday, February 9, 2013 to learn all about the college planning process. SMCC President, Dr. Shari Olson, welcomed all participants to the campus and reassured them that a college education can be achieved despite the many obstacles faced by first-generation students.

The program included student workshops highlighting three main areas of focus in: College Planning, Financial Literacy, and Leadership Development. Arnold Torres, student services specialist at SMCC, facilitated an informational presentation based on three easy-to-follow steps students can use as they prepare a plan to apply to college; Rema M. Oxandaboure, regional program manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, traveled all the way from southern California to engage students in a fun and interactive session about the many benefits associated with being smart financial planners, especially when it comes to financing a college education; and Tomas Robles, outreach coordinator at the United Farm Workers Foundation & CHCI Alumnus, guided students through a set of team and leadership building activities to help students uncover the leader already existing within.

The college knowledge did not stop in the workshop sessions. R2L Phoenix participants received a wealth of information throughout the event from other community leaders and CHCI supporters. Scott Turner, vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and Victor Pena, AT&T director of service management, kicked off the Mentoring Power Hour session and welcomed more than 80 professionals and college students. Mentors provided outstanding guidance and insider’s knowledge to help students develop smart, sensible college plans. Additionally, mentors represented almost 50 businesses, higher education institutions, government agencies, and community based organizations, including: Arizona State University, AT&T HACEMOS, Hispanic Business Student Association (HBSA) at ASU, Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Arizona Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations, and the University of Arizona. Students also received two very special addresses during the luncheon from Congressman Ed Pastor, U.S. Representative for Arizona’s 4th District, and Henry Cejudo, author and 2008 U.S. Wrestling Olympic Gold Medalist.

Finally, actor and official R2L Spokesperson Wilmer Valderrama closed the event by sharing his inspiring story about his family’s struggle to overcome poverty and his eventual rise to stardom. Valderrama entertained questions from the  audience and challenged students to pursue meaningful and successful futures.

CHCI is proud to continue educating, motivating, and empowering Latino youth in the greater Phoenix area.

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