News Column

Tandem Journey to Help Hispanics Pursue Education

Sept. 11, 2012

Jesus Lopez Jr.

Hispanic student

Riding a tandem bike, community activist Dean Curtis and his wife plan to pedal across the Wasatch Front in Utah.

The journey began at Weber State University on Monday and will end at Utah Valley University in Orem on Thursday.

Along the way, Curtis will meet with schools, delivering DVDs and materials to help get more Hispanic students on the path to college. The event is timed to coincide with Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 16.

When Curtis served as mission president in Tampico, Mexico, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the three youngest of his nine children attended local schools.

He realized he did not know much about the schools, such as the grading system or the grade levels. Even visiting the schools was confusing for him.

When he returned to the United States, he saw that many Latino children struggle with school and drop out.

Curtis said he asked his children why they never dropped out, even with the struggles they faced attending school in a foreign country.

They responded, "We didn't know it was an option."

Curtis realized that he needed to help Latino families become more involved in education and push their children to pursue higher education.

"What we really want to do is start the conversation of college in the home," Curtis said.

Through the DVDs, predominantly Spanish-speaking families will learn how to understand the acronyms and terms casually used in higher education, such as GPA, SAT and FAFSA, which involve grading, testing and grants respectively.

Much of the information is currently spread through the El Grito De La Prosperidad radio show at 3 p.m. Wednesday on KOGN 1490 AM.

Ogden resident Maricruz Reyes is a faithful listener of the show. She listens to it regularly to get more information on how to better her daughter's education.

Although Reyes' daughter is only in third grade, Reyes said she understands the importance of becoming involved in her child's school and preparing her for college.

"I try to, even now, be informed to be able to better help my daughter," Reyes said.

Lazaro Cocoletzi has also learned a lot about his children's education through El Grito De La Prosperidad organizers.

When his children started school, he didn't understand the grade system, so if his child came home with an A or a D, he didn't know if they were doing good or bad.

Now he knows what to say when he visits with teachers and is able to follow his children's progress through the Internet.

He has seen a noticeable improvement in his children's grades since he became involved.

They hope to see the message spread through the DVDs.

Curtis will take that message across the Wasatch Front. The bike ride will end Thursday at Utah Valley University with a bellringing ceremony to symbolize Miguel Hidalgo's call to action for Mexican Independence.

A booth will be at Fiesta Mexicana on Saturday at the Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City.

The DVDs will be free to Ogden School District students, and will be available for $14.95, with free shipping and handling around the country.

For more information, visit elgritodelaprosperidad.org.



Source: (c)2012 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah) Distributed by MCT Information Services