Latinos in Action end the year strong |

Latinos in Action end the year strong

Cole Fullmer, The Park Record

Nineteen students who participated in the Latinos in Action Program at Park City High School were visited by a group of professional speakers during class Friday, May 31. Ernest Oriente, who hosts the career days for students, selected four area professionals who have faced adversities in their pursuit to becoming successful. Photo submitted by Park City High School

Students who participated in the Latinos in Action Program at Park City High School attended their last career day presentation Friday morning in Ali Webb’s classroom.

The 19 students in attendance, which hosted four professional speakers, all earned their seats through efforts made this school year, according to Webb who is the English-as-a-Second Language department chair and teacher.

During the year, students who seek access to the group must maintain a minimum 2.5 Grade Point Average and commit to volunteer work at the school and around the community. Last year, more than 40 students submitted applications to join, but only those at the event last week made the cut.

"Latinos in Action spend a minimum of three hours a week tutoring students at McPolin, mentoring students at Ecker Hill and volunteering at community events like Running With Ed, kindergarten registration, parent-teacher meetings," Webb said. "They also help run quarterly Latino parent nights for the Latino Parents in the community. "

These efforts, along with the career days, hosted by Ernest Oriente, are used to demonstrate to students the importance of education and help them follow in the footsteps of the speakers that visited the school.

Oriente, who is a professional business coach in Park City, selects all of the speakers.

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The guest speakers are invited to the school to broaden students’ views on education. With all of speakers having diverse backgrounds and experiences, the students are exposed to possibilities that they may never have encountered before. In addition, speakers spoke of adversity they had overcome and offered opportunities for mentoring and networking.

Speaking at last week’s event were: Brian Wynn, Aimee Cunniff, Phil Davidson and Len Bowes.

The eclectic group of speakers all had diverse backgrounds and successful careers, ranging from an inner city childhood, a local student who excelled in college after graduating from PCHS and a doctor that had nearly 20 years of education.

One speaker, who was not on the roster of guests, stole the show.

With time remaining in the class hour, Oriente introduced his mother, Doris Schweppe, who had been sitting in the room quietly throughout the presentations.

The Puerto Rican native immigrated to New York City along with her mother and three sisters when she was 10 years old.

Despite her self-made success in a career dedicated to real-estate, Schweppe explained to the students why going to college is a much easier route to success than the "hard path" she took.

Standing at the front of the class, in a stern voice she probably practiced on Oriente while he was young, Schweppe said, "Get an education. There is no reason in the world why none of you living in this community can go to college."

According to Webb, all six seniors participating in the program this year are attending college in the fall.

Latinos in Action prepares students to be leaders. This is done through practical training, attending lectures, and volunteering hundreds of hours in the community. All LIA students are bilingual and use their voices to be ambassadors and advocates for those in the community. They do this by translating, mentoring, tutoring and helping run community events. These experiences and qualities fulfill both scholarship and admission requirements.

"The Latino in Action students are a special group of kids who consistently find ways to step up and give to our community," Webb said.