Harvard grad promotes higher education to students

By and

Mr. Chocolate spoke to more than 550 high school students at the annual M.E.Ch.A. conference.

The Moviemento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Azatlan organization at the U invited Latina/o high school students from Ogden to Provo to the Union on Monday for its ninth annual conference.

To start off the day, keynote speaker Richard Santana, a Harvard graduate with a master’s degree, disguised himself as Mr. Chocolate in a long grey suit and sunglasses and gave a motivational speech on Latinos reaching their potential in today’s society.

Santana discussed his background and the hardships he went through growing up with an abusive uncle.

“In seventh grade, I was introduced to alcohol and drugs by my uncle. All my life, people were telling me this is how my life is supposed to be,” he said.

Santana managed to barely graduate from high school, while abusing drugs and alcohol, he said.

“Whenever I did something good, someone would make me look stupid because it was cool to be dumb,” he said.

He emphasized the importance of today’s Latina/os to stay away from drugs and alcohol and to make something of their lives.

“It becomes a sad day when someone like you doesn’t make it. People are dying on the streets, and you need to change it,” Santana said.

Statistically, Latinos are the number one ethnic group to have problems with drugs and to drop out of school, he said.

Santana pointed out that the statistics show such trends because of the repeated pattern and stereotypical life these Latina/os face doesn’t allow them to realize their potential for the future.

He explained that it took someone outside to give him a chance-“teachers, advisers, parents, other peers and students are the ones that gave me a chance.”

Santana urged the students to make a difference for themselves in their lives.

“Stop the madness that is taking us down. Do it because it’s your right and responsibility,” Santana said.

Near the end of his speech, Santana-who had been dressed as Mr. Chocolate during his talk-stripped off his “cultured” outer layer of clothing and sunglasses, to reveal himself, dressed in business attire.

“I take these outer clothes everywhere with me. I use my culture to move forward in life,” he said.

“I came to this conference because I wanted to see what it was like. I knew it was something for Latinos, and I’m Latino,” West High School student Marisela Amezquita said.

“This conference makes the connection with high school students. It breaks the barrier,” Patrick Beecroft, a member of M.E.Ch.A. said. “It brings the students to the actual campus, and we let the students know how they can apply and become students at the U.”

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