CHCI Hosts Star-studded Ready to Lead in the City of Angels

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Nearly 200 of Los Angeles’ brightest and most motivated students joined CHCI for its Ready to Lead (R2L) Los Angeles event at the Rio Hondo College campus on Saturday, December 8, 2012. Students representing twenty high schools joined us for an intensive day full of learning and preparing for the college process. Welcomed by CHCI President & CEO, Esther Aguilera, and Vice President of Student Services at Rio Hondo College, Henry Gee, participants became eager to learn and ready to lead after listening to parallel messages of overcoming adversity through perseverance and how the pursuit of a higher education could help to release their truest and brightest potentials.

Feeling inspired, students attended three workshop sessions focused on providing them the tools necessary to prepare them for a postsecondary education: College Planning, Financial Literacy, and Leadership Development. Vanessa Chavez, Educational Advisor at Rio Hondo College,  facilitated an interactive 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 engaged students in a fun and informational session about the many benefits associated with being smart financial planners, especially when it comes to financing a college education; and board members from the Los Angeles Chapter of the CHCI Alumni Association  Sasha M. Moreno, Lissa Palacios, and Linda Vasquez guided students through a set of team and leadership building activities to help students uncover the leader already existing within. Throughout the day, students shared comments about how instrumental all three sessions were in helping them understand the college-going process, while others felt reaffirmed in their plans to continue their plans towards a college education.

While student participants were the real stars during R2L L.A., shining just as bright were the mentors, sponsors, and supporters who joined us in record breaking numbers. Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Cisneros, founders of The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation, kicked off the Mentoring Power Hour session, which boasted a record-breaking eighty professionals and college students, all of whom volunteered their time on a Saturday morning to offer guidance to participating students. Also joining for the activity was Scott Turner, Vice President and Community Affairs Officer, Community Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, who shared with students the importance of finding mentors to help support them in the college preparation process. During the hour-long activity, mentors shared their journeys towards personal success and offered insight as to how to develop a smart plan for a college education and eventually, a promising career. Mentors represented over fifty educational programs, government agencies, businesses, higher education institutions, and community based organizations; including: the Associated Student Body of Rio Hondo College, El Monte Coalition of Latino Professionals (emCLP), the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF), and New Futuro.

Many of our mentors stayed to share lunch with the students. During the luncheon, sponsor Jessica Montoya, Vice President of Government Affairs and Assistant General Counsel at Sodexo, thanked students for coming and shared her encouragement to make the most of the day. She was joined by Fernando Febres of Que Rica Vida, who generously shared goodie bags during the lunch time raffle. 

Closing the event, actor and official R2L spokesperson Wilmer Valderrama shared his touching story about his family’s struggle to overcome poverty and his eventual rise to stardom. Valderrama shared his passion for the arts, urged students to continue their education after high school, and asked them to find that one thing they love doing most so that work will never have to feel like actual work.

R2L L.A. 2012 was a tremendous success, and amidst the Los Angeles glitz, it was the students who shined brightest on that foggy Saturday.

CHCI is proud to continue educating, motivating, and empowering Latino youth in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

For more information on Ready to Lead, please visit: www.chci.org/ready_to_lead

To view the R2L L.A. 2012 photo gallery, Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CHCIR2L

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