Univision Los Angeles brought its education fair, “Feria Es El Momento, EdÃºcate” to California State University, Dominguez Hills for a second year on Oct. 9. The event featured exhibitors from all levels of elementary, secondary, and higher education, as well as representatives of Chivas USA, health care organizations and other supplementary educational programs. The event was sponsored by Univision KMEX 34, Telefutura 46, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, CommuniCard, and CSU Dominguez Hills.
An estimated 27,000 visitors walked through the CSU Dominguez Hills Torodome during the five-hour event, which provided free information and resources for parents who inquired about educational programs from pre-school to the university level. On-air personalities from Univision’s four Los Angeles radio and television stations were on hand to sign autographs, and 47,000 free books in Spanish were distributed. Exhibitors included the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the United Way, YWCA of Greater Los Angeles, Jumpstart, and Para Los Ninos.
Sixty-five students, faculty, and staff members from CSU Dominguez Hills volunteered their time at the event with tasks including heading workshops, managing information booths about the university and on campus programs, and guiding guests throughout the campus. In addition, 37 colleges and universities–including 13 CSU campuses–sent representatives and information for potential students.
The event, which was aimed at increasing the graduation rate and decreasing the high school dropout rate among the Latino population of the Los Angeles region, was largely targeted at the parents of soon-to-be college students, many of whom will become the first in their families to attend college.
“I came to gather information about sending my daughter to college,” said Carson resident Edgar Hidalgo, who attended the fair with 16-year-old Karen Hidalgo, a junior at Carson High School. “As Latinos, we don’t want to limit ourselves and attending this fair is important. I would like to thank all sponsors and volunteers for making this wonderful event possible.”
Armando Soto is a senior at Orthopaedic Hospital Medical Magnet High School in Los Angeles. The first in his family to seek a university degree, he attended the fair with his mother, Velma Soto.
“I wanted to learn about the average SAT scores, financial aid, and housing,” said Soto.
Soto said that he wanted to attend the University of California, Merced, with the ultimate goal of earning a doctorate in forensics.
“Some of the seniors [at Orthopaedic] last year said they had a pretty good forensic science program,” he said.
Marlyn Mora, a sophomore at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach wants to become a child psychologist. Although she has two brothers who attended DeVry University for accounting degrees, she decided to visit the fair with her father, Armando Mora.
“I just came to see what is here,” she said of visiting the CSU Dominguez Hills campus. “It’s different. I wanted to go my own way.”
Univision affiliates in Texas have presented similar fairs in Austin, influencing San Antonio resident Margaret Martin to visit CSU Dominguez Hills last Saturday and serve as a volunteer.
“I wanted to see for myself the whole concept live,” she said. “Until you see the excitement and motivation in people’s eyes, it makes the time and expense all worth while.”
Exhibitors such as Eva Brune, a communciations specialist from Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP), a nonprofit that funds 330 preschools throughout Los Angeles County, said that she found a receptive audience in visitors to the fair.
“Families are just hungering for knowledge on how they can better give their children the best start in life,” she said. “Our motto is, ‘University education begins in preschool.’ Studies have shown that children who attend preschool are more likely to graduate from high school and go on to four-year colleges.”
David Gamboa, director of Community and Government Relations at CSU Dominguez Hills, said that event’s such as this plays a major role in developing the leaders of tomorrow.
“It is important that our university brings awareness to the value of education to such a wide demographic range, especially to the younger generation of students who will be leading our communities in the future,” he noted.
Dr. Mildred García, president of CSU Dominguez Hills, said that the Los Angeles community’s reception to the fair was “better than last year. There are tons of people excited with learning about education and the parents are really committed [to it].”
“When you tell children from the beginning that they are going to college, that stays with them year after year,” said García.
Special guests on campus for the event included Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, State Assemblyman Warren Furutani, Rio Hondo College president Ted Martinez, Melvin Martinez president of Los Angeles Harbor College, LAUSD Board of Education chair Monica Garcia, Sandra Licon of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. David Hayes-Bautista, professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the School of Medicine, UCLA.
For more information on Univision’s Feria Es El Momento, click here.
-Fredwill Hernandez contributed to this story