The Modesto Junior College Hispanic Education Conference will take place on Saturday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Performing and Media Arts Center on East Campus, 435 College Avenue in Modesto.
The purpose of the free conference is to expose Hispanic high school students to higher education, to a variety of occupations, and to motivate them to aspire to a successful academic life and career preparation.
Students will attend workshops on career exploration; politics, community and family; youth leadership; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers; preparing for careers in manufacturing or becoming an attorney; Bridge and Project YES programs, and information sessions on MJC, California State University, Stanislaus (CSUS) and studying engineering and construction management at Fresno State University.
The keynote speaker is Jorge Perez, director of the Department of Student, Parent and Community Support Services for Modesto City School District, who will share how he turned from gang involvement to complete his education and become a positive leader.
Jorge Perez was born in Mountain View, California, to parents who left Mexico in the early 1970’s in search of a better life. He grew up on the East side of Salinas, a poor, disadvantaged part of the community that is prone to gangs. Despite living in these conditions, his parents taught him the values of hard work and respect, and the importance of an education.
Perez’ parents were farm workers who migrated to Yuma, Arizona each winter. During the winter when Perez was 10, his parents, decided to leave him and his older brother with relatives in Salinas so they could remain in the same school. Unfortunately, while they were away, Perez began associating with gang members, and by the age of 12 had developed a pattern of getting in trouble with the law. When his father died from a heart attack, 15-year old Perez further turned toward gangs and other dangerous behaviors, eventually spending time in juvenile hall.
In time, Perez was able to combine his “street smarts” with an education and turn his life around. He credits his mother, who never gave up on him, and his 11th grade teacher who became his mentor, with helping him.
Perez became the first person in his family to graduate from high school, and in 2000 earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from CSU Stanislaus. In 2009 Perez earned a Master of Science in Educational Counseling with a Pupil Personnel Services (PPS) Credential from the University of La Verne. Today he serves in educational leadership, and encourages students to stay in school and to pursue a higher education.
Registration for the MJC Hispanic Education Conference is free and aregistration form can be downloaded from http://www.mjc.edu/general/hec/. Questions may be directed to Shemi Warda in the MJC Career Development and Transfer Center, firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-575-6698.