More than 400 Madison-area Latino students poured into the Madison College Truax campus May 17 for the 8th annual Latino Youth Career and College Fair titled “Build Your Future.”
The event is hosted each year by the Latino Youth Career and College Fair Planning Committee and is a collaborative effort of Edgewood College, Madison College, and the Madison Metropolitan School District. The day provides an opportunity for area high school youth to receive career and post-secondary information delivered entirely in Spanish.
The master of ceremonies for the event was Maria Lopez, administrative planner at Madison College.
“This event allows Latino students the opportunity to learn about the staff and college and university and to help make connections with Spanish-speaking staff at the institutions,” Lopez said.
The day is composed of career workshop presentations, a college fair, a luncheon, door prizes and an end-of-the-day event. The college fair provided all students the opportunity to learn about Wisconsin colleges and universities and helps them make a connection with Spanish-speaking staff at those institutions. The fair focused on a variety of career areas including health, education/human services, business, protective services, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), information technology (IT) and computers, trades and apprenticeships, and media, art and design.
The welcome at the event was given by Dr. Bettsey Barhorst, president of Madison College. “Today, you will see some of the many, many careers that you could enter into,” Barhorst said. “You can start here at Madison College and go anywhere. It's a good start to getting into a career that will pay well and that will be your passion. I hope you have a great time today exploring some of the people who are here. I hope we sell all of you here with blue Madison College shirts some day.”
The keynote speaker was Diego Campoverde-Cisneros, production manager at Midwest Family Broadcasting and a member of La Movida 1480 AM's on-air team. He talked about his experiences getting an education and finding employment and gave tips to the students on building their own futures.
“As far back as I can remember, I can always remember being a communicator. That's a fancy way to say that I love to talk .... a lot!” Campoverde-Cisneros told the students.
On La Movida, Campoverde-Cisneros hosts a morning talk show, El Debate, as well as the very popular afternoon music program, La Tarde Arde con Diego Campoverde.
“For me, in order to build a successful future, I needed an essential foundation — education,” Campoverde-Cisneros said. “I often think about what would have happened to me if I hadn't gone to college and gotten a degree. I realized that I had been a lucky person because the education that I seeked changed my life forever.
“You need to find that spark — la chispa — that will tell you which professional field you will fit in and where your passion is,” Campoverde-Cisneros added. “My five years at the university were the best years of my life. Being able to explore an exciting field that practically moves everything in the world made me feel that I did choose the right path.”
Campoverde-Cisneros is originally from Cuenca, Ecuador. He studied at the University of Azuay in his hometown of Cuenca. In 2001, he obtained his bachelor's degree in social communications and moved to the United States shortly thereafter.
“That was one of the hardest decisions in my life,” he remembered. “But here in the United States is where things got better.”
Campoverde-Cisneros moved to Madison during one of the coldest winters ever, he said. “But I had an unique and incredible opportunity to work for a 24/7 Spanish radio station,” he remembered. “My current bosses believed in me and supported me to work at this radio station. It sounds like the American Dream come true. But in order to be in this country working legally, I had to show that I had a college degree. It was because I had an education that I had an opportunity to work and stay here in the United States. Without an education, I could have not come this far and become the professional that I am now.”
Campoverde-Cisneros, who was recently chosen to be part of Univision's project: Generación América, the first multigenerational initiative dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories of Latinos in the U.S., had some specific advice for the young students in the crowd.
“This conversation [today] is meaningless if you don't finish high school,” he said. “You have to finish high school. If you want to have a bright future, you have to start that foundation of education. Get involved in different things. Be a volunteer. Education is very important, but what stands out on a resume is your involvement with the community. Employers want to know how different you are from other prospects.”
In his 11 years in Madison, Campoverde-Cisneros has been involved in numerous volunteer opportunities, causes, and fundraisers. “By getting involved in all of these causes, I have become a better human being, but it's also helped me meet incredible professionals and friends who have helped me improve myself professionally and personally,” he said.
“Your education is very important. I can't imagine where I would be today without it. Build your future,” Campoverde-Cisneros added. “You are worth it.”