Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Calling All Role Models

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

Calling All Role Models

Article excerpt

"Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there. " - John Wooden

Many Latino students can tell you who tops the music charts, which actors received Oscars and the star athletes for major football and basketball teams. Hero worship is natural, so we need to encourage students to look beyond the whoopla, examine the effort required to stay on top and note the signs of character the stars demonstrate. A closer look may cause some Hispanic students to revise their list.

Through friendly conversation any adult can ask Latino students who they admire and why. Important questions beyond which awards were received, which designer brands were worn or how much money someone earned need to be asked. Keep your opinions out of it, ask the reasons for their choices and then listen carefully. What you hear Latino students say about character will likely fall into the categories determined by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman in their work on human strengths and virtues. The categories are universal though the examples can be unique and personally relevant.

Start with looking for wisdom and knowledge. Is the person the student admires curious, creative and open to lifelong learning? Some Latino students may focus on celebrities surrounded by paparazzi and drama and not know about what celebrities do outside the spotlight. Some Hispanic students, though, might find themselves talking about a loved one who has made wise choices and learned much, regardless of circumstance. Whether it is a rap or hip-hop star spouting off or Tio Patricio heading off a family argument, Hispanic students can learn about people and use those lessons to make wise choices.

Search for examples of courage. Latinos can find examples of bravery among those who have served their country, for Hispanics are most heavily represented in the military, including casualties. But look closer than a foreign battlefield. Who has stood in the face of adversity or ridicule and stuck with their beliefs? Ask Latino students to find and share examples of how their heroes have persevered in the face of trouble, then come closer to home and talk about people they know who have lost or failed and yet continued despite defeat. …

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