Latino Ed. Conference draws 300 to Concord

  • November 20, 2008

The Concord Campus staff, and radio personality Edgar "Showboy" Sotelo (center), helped promote a successful education conference.The Concord Campus played host recently to 300 high school students from 19 Contra Costa County high schools participating in the 8th Annual Narrowing the Gap Hispanic Education Conference.

The annual conference seeks to "break the chain" of soaring high school dropout rates and low college attendance among Latino teens.

President Mo Qayoumi kicked off the conference with an inspirational welcome message about the importance of education. By highlighting his experience as the son of a carpenter in Kabul, Afghanistan, President Qayoumi showed how education opened the door to his success today.

The Nov. 7 conference co-chairs Annie Nogales-Chandler, Cal State East Bay, and Lupe Carvajal Dannels, Diablo Valley College, promoted the importance of higher education through the theme "No Excuses" for not attending college. Through speakers and workshops led by Latino business and community leaders, students joined in discussions with people who looked like them, shared similar life experiences and succeeded.

Asked, "What was your favorite part of the conference?" the majority of students said "Shoboy!"

Keynote speaker Edgar "Shoboy" Sotelo, a popular disc jockey with radio station La Kalle 100.7, motivated students with his personal testimony of being a "class entertainer" during his own high school years. To a room full of teens taking pictures with raised camera phones, "Shoboy" told of being placed in remedial classes in high school after getting As and Bs in middle school. He also shared the story of a teacher that changed his life by telling him he "wasn't going to waste her time to discipline him because he was going to fail anyway."

Shoboy asked the students at the conference, "Was the teacher racist?" The room filled with raised hands.

"It was my choice to be the class entertainer and to not be successful in class," he said.

He added that it was his choice to be a victim or take personal responsibility for his actions to succeed. Shoboy chose to take personal responsibility. He worked hard and received exceptional grades in the class, going on to college and then obtaining a master's degree before going into radio. To a hushed room of students, he said they had no excuses, because if he could do it so could they. And echoing a term often used by president-elect Barack Obama, Shoboy told the crowd: No excuses, if a poor black kid can become president, !Si se puede! "Yes We Can!"

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