Longtime local Latino activists and award-winning journalists Graciano Gomez and his wife, Trini, will serve as the honorary chairs for the inaugural Cal State San Bernardino LEAD Feria Educativa to be held at the campus on Saturday, Oct. 1.
The education fair, held under the auspices of Cal State San Bernardino’s Latino Education and Advocacy Days project in collaboration with Telemundo’s “El Poder De Saber” education initiative, is designed to help Latino families make college education a priority. The free, all-day Saturday event will include education workshops, presentations and demonstrations, entertainment and activities for children – all in a carnival atmosphere.
The push to higher education is a natural for the Gomezes, who have been married for more than 30 years. They are well known throughout the inland area for their hard work and commitment in establishing the Inland Empire Hispanic News.
“Graciano and Trini have served as role models of the determination, dedication and spirit of the Latino community in the Inland Empire,” said Enrique Murillo Jr., a CSUSB professor of education, who also is the executive director of the LEAD conference, which is held annually in March. “They will be affectionately known as our event's ‘padrino y madrina de honor’.”
A 1943 graduate of Redlands High School, Graciano Gomez is a World War II veteran who served in China, India and Burma (now known as Myanmar). After an honorable discharge, Gomez worked at Norton Air Force Base as a data processing operator. In 1952, he went to work for San Bernardino County, where he worked until his retirement in 1986.
Gomez has been active in the community for many years, serving on a number of committees, civic groups and organizations.
“After my military service, I recognized the value of education and was determined to enhance the quality of education and encouragement to all students, and specifically to Hispanic students,” Gomez said. “I made it my mission to work to improve, enhance and promote the value of preschool to college educational opportunities, and expand social, health, economic, veteran and employment opportunities within the Inland Empire communities and specifically toward the Hispanic communities.”
Graciano Gomez is the recipient of 83 congressional, state, county, city and organizational awards and resolutions; three lifetime achievement awards, including the Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties’ prestigious Guadalupana Award; and the Government of Mexico Ohtli Award for six decades of community service and human issues. He also has a San Bernardino elementary school named in his honor.
Since the Inland Empire Hispanic News’ inception, Trini Gomez has played a vital role in the development and ongoing operation of the newspaper, alongside Graciano, who served as publisher and editor. Their newspaper has covered many of the crucial issues such as education, health, economic development and business news as it affects Latinos in the Inland Empire.
The Inland Empire Hispanic News has also captured the spirit of the greater Inland Empire community by sharing the inspirational stories of outstanding role models of leaders in the community, business, education, and non-profit sectors, and individuals and families who are making positive contributions.
Since its first publication in 1987, Inland Empire Hispanic News has been the recipient of 21 awards for excellence in newspaper reporting on education, civic and economic affairs.
The LEAD Feria Educativa’s purpose is to create a college-going mentality and career-readiness culture among low-income Hispanic families and groups in the Inland Empire, which suffers from one of the lowest college-going rates nationally, especially among ethnic and low-income groups, including the Latino community.
Telemundo 52/KVEA, the Spanish language local station serving Southern California, is scheduled to broadcast live from the Feria, while the network will tape a live town-hall meeting hosted by Telemundo’s news anchor, Jose Diaz-Balart, to air on Sunday, Oct. 2, during his public affairs program “Enfoque.”
The town hall will also be made available on demand on Telemundo’s website at www.telemundo.com and on the university’s website. Telemundo television personalities will also serve as emcees, panelists and speakers during the event.
The fair will be at the university’s Santos Manuel Student Union and the university’s Commons. Parking will be free.
The Feria is structured to engage Latino parents and families to learn about college – academically, socially and financially – and inspire them to make college a viable option to aspire, Murillo said.
The fair will host community forums to discuss issues in education, an education expo and information sessions and workshops to help parents and their children learn about what it takes to get to college and how to apply for scholarships and financial aid.
Some of the sessions include:
· how to write a college essay;
· how to get into college – the basics;
· learning about professions in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics;
· “Financial Aid 101: Am I Eligible?”
· discovering what scholarships are available; and
· learning about pre-professional programs and what it takes to be a doctor, lawyer, dentist or veterinarian.
The Feria will also be the site of the Inland Empire Cash for College Campaign, a program of the California Student Aid Commission, in partnership with high schools, community colleges, universities and community groups, which will conduct workshops to encourage students with financial need to apply for the scholarship funding that is available to them. Students receive one-on-one assistance to complete their financial aid forms. As a group, students at past events have accessed $20-$40 million in state and federal financial aid.
For more information, vendors/exhibits and sponsorship opportunities, visit the LEAD website at http://lead.csusb.edu/CollegeCareerFair.htm.
For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit http://news.csusb.edu.
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