California State University, Dominguez Hills welcomed to campus approximately 38,000 visitors who attended the 2012 Es El Momento: Feria de Educacíon (The Moment is Now: Education Fair) on Saturday, Oct. 13.
For the fourth year, CSU Dominguez Hills partnered with Univision Los Angeles stations KMEX and KFTR 46 to present the free Feria de Educacíon, which provided an opportunity for students and parents to receive valuable information on how to successfully navigate their children through the educational system. The day also included live entertainment, vendor booths, and a town hall on anti-bullying moderated by Univision Network news anchor María Elena Salinas.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony to start the fair, CSU Dominguez Hills Interim President Willie Hagan said the fair served as an important day for parent and students because it set them on a path toward the greatest avenue for upward mobility, a college degree. He encouraged visitors to gain as much information as possible by attending the various programs throughout the day, so that the process of going to college is a familiar one.
Also on campus for the first time, and held concurrently, was the Los Angeles Latino Book and Family Fair, presented by Latino Literacy Now and actor Edward James Olmos, with whom Hagan also helped with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
“It’s appropriate that [Latino Book Fair] be here because over 50 percent of the students at our college are Latino,” Hagan said. “The most important thing is to get kids involved in reading early on. … Reading is one of the key avenues of education, [and] education is one of the key avenues to having a great life, not only for yourself but for your family.”
Informing parents and students about the path of education, from pre-K to college, were representatives from more than 150 nonprofit educational and community resource organizations, school districts, and universities throughout southern California.
Mariam Razo of Long Beach, who heard about the fair through PIQE (Parent Institute for Quality Education), attended because she said she wanted to familiarize her ninth-grade daughter with various colleges and universities.
“I told her it’s time to start looking, to see where she wants to go. We’re still deciding what she wants to go into and what the schools offer,” Razo said. “There’s a lot of information [at the fair] about education and tutoring.”
For others, it was a case of better late than never. Violet Vargas of Simi Valley and her husband brought their son to learn more about his options. He recently graduated from high school and is interested in studying digital media arts. But his mom is looking forward to her son going to college regardless what he studies.
“It’s very comforting for us just to know our kids can be in a university and be a good person later for the society. That’s our goal,” Vargas said.
Additionally, for parents such as Luz Martinez of Gardena, who attended the feria with her toddlers and her 4th-grade son, the fair provided an opportunity to gather information on financial planning for the education. Free workshops were held on such topics as financial aid, scholarships and financial literacy, college admission requirements, and AB 540—the Dream Act.
In the gymnasium’s reading garden, small groups of children sat cross-legged and on their knees, rapt with attention as volunteers, including Hagan and Univision personalities, read to them from brightly illustrated children’s books. Inside and outside the gymnasium pages practically flew as more than 50,000 children books in both English and Spanish were given away to children and their parents.
Interactive activities gave children hands-on experiences, such as a “visualization” booth where children donned uniforms of chosen professions from astronaut to physician and had their picture taken. Mario Quintanilla of Lawndale along his wife Liliana heard about the feria through Univsion’s channel 34 and decided to bring their 4-year-old daughter Jessica for the activity.
“We came to find out some information about pre-school and to try out something new,” Quintanilla said while waiting to have Jessica’s picture taken.
Most likely they accomplished that. Their beaming daughter, who wants to be doctor someday, had her picture taken while dressed in a pint-sized lab coat and stethoscope draped over her neck.
A little closer to her goal of working in health care was high school senior Selia Rodriquez of Los Angeles. She plans to study nursing and attended the fair to get information on the nursing programs at area colleges, including CSU Dominguez Hills, where she learned the program is a stand out.
Rodriquez was also using the visit to campus to peruse booths at the Los Angeles Latino Book and Family Fair, where Olmos said more than 100 Latino authors were represented from throughout the world, including himself, New York Times bestselling author Victor Villaseñor, contemporary Chicano author Luis Rodriguez, and playwright Josefina Lopez.
Olmos, who went to school in southern California from elementary through to CSU Los Angeles, created the literacy project because he felt a sense of community and because exposing Latino families to authorship, reading, and books in English and in Spanish is important to creating a culture where children are inspired to learn.
Olmos stressed that his goal is “Making sure children, pre-school through high school, are given the opportunity to understand education to the point that they’ll want to go to college, and [will] get through college.”
With more than 57 events nationwide and 16 years since initiating Latino Literacy Now, Olmos said people have become more enthusiastic about Latino literacy events and he hopes to make the Latino Book Fair a regular feature at CSU Dominguez Hills.