Inspiring Latino Youth Focus Of Tulsa Conference
TULSA, Oklahoma - Stay in school — that's the message Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado is giving Latino students across the city.
"I wanted to be someone in life. I wanted to study and go to college," said Raul Rodriguez.
When Rodriguez moved to the United States from Mexico at 14 years old, he had dreams of becoming an engineer. But it wasn't easy.
"No one in my family ever went to college. From my immediate family, my brothers or my dad or my mom. So they didn't know how to direct me. So I had to find my path," he said.
He started high school not knowing how to speak English, a barrier he thought would limit his future.
"It was very difficult for me the first years because I didn't speak the language. I didn't know how to say hello, what's your name, or how are you doing," Rodriguez said.
Today, as a mechanical engineer, he speaks to hundreds of students in Tulsa's Latino community, letting them know that nothing is too difficult for them to accomplish.
"I think the single most important thing is that they see law enforcement as human beings. Somebody that they can aspire to be if they want to be or go be a doctor or something else, and that they can do it," Regalado said.
Deborah Easter is the founder of the LEAD conference.
She said the dropout rate among Latino students in Oklahoma is higher than the rates in the White, Asian and Black communities.
She hopes the conference will inspire these students to aim high.
"This is Tulsa's future. The more knowledgeable citizens that we get, that's going to be a lot better for our municipalities," Easter said.
The conference is held each year in Tulsa.