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La Liga de Las Americas

Cholo goes to Harvard

By Marisol Ibarra, La Prensa Reporter

Señor Chocolate (Cho-ko-LA-tay)Richard Santana—walked on the stage of the University of Toledo Student Union Auditorium on May 8, 2007 dressed in baggy pants, shades, trench coat, and a red pañuelo—he was puro pachuco, cholo, y vato!

He was part of the 5th Annual Latino Youth Summit at UT, where over 800 high school students from northwest Ohio attended, according to Director of Latino Youth Initiatives, Sabina Elizondo Serratos.

El Señor Chocolate begins his speech using a thick vato-style, Spanish accent—all to emphasis many of his points. He recounts his personal gang-life experiences to illustrate gang attitudes and behaviors. He was a third-generation gang member.

Before El Señor Chocolate

He challenges the eight-hundred-plus students to critically assess their own perceptions. He asks them to acknowledge the fact that violence and hopelessness will continue to affect the Latino communities if apathy persists.

He addressed many issues, including those involving early teen pregnancy and promiscuity and the emotional distraction they add to Latino youth.

After sharing his gang-life experiences, Señor Chocolate presents “The Change!”—an apt metaphor, long to be remembered.

While shedding his gang clothing, he explains The Change that occurred in his life – and can occur in anyone’s life.

Richard Santana emerges, dressed in a shirt and tie – as a college graduate, educator, counselor colleague, and friend. Mr. Chocolate is a Harvard grad (obtaining a Master’s Degree), but came from the Fresno barrio.

He makes an impact. He helps the students become aware of diversity and how diversity and culture can become assets and not liabilities.


José Luna’s thoughts

According to José Luna of the Toledo Public Schools, “The 5th Latino Youth Summit was a day to remember. Keynote speaker Richard Santana said what needed to be said—‘If you live fast you go fast!


“There were 27 northwest Ohio schools represented. 9th graders experienced workshops including: Ohio University gave presentations on art, making post cards to send to New Orleans, theater-making masks, & dance by a Latino dance professor. 


“Bowling Green State University gave a presentation on becoming an educator and the University of Toledo’s testing department made a presentation on the mandatory Ohio Graduation Test. 


“Toledo Teachers Credit Union did Finance 101 to seniors- interactive workshop on banking, credit cards, and managing your finances. All in all a tremendous day.”

Editor’s Note: More on UT’s Latino Youth Summit next week in La Prensa. For more info on Señor Chocolate, go to www.homeboygoestoharvardproductions.com   



After The Change is Richard Santana


Richard Santana with students at UT

Sabina Serratos, Director of the Office of Latino Initiatives at the University of Toledo, with students Heather O'Keefe, Michelle Monroy, and Victoria Hernández at UT’s Latino Youth Summit, held on May 8, 2007.










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