Modesto Area
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MJC Latina Leadership Network: Raza Graduate Celeb


Date : April 10, 2018 -
Time : 5:30pm
Location : MJC, West Campus
Address : 2201 Blue Gum Ave.
Modesto, CA 95358
Description : The Modesto Junior College Latina Leadership Network (LLN) is hosting an inaugural Raza Graduate Celebration on Tuesday, April 10 at 5:30 p.m. in the Mary Stuart Rogers Student Learning Center on West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Avenue, Modesto. The event has reached capacity and will be streamed live from FB@MJCLLN. Students and their families are invited to a dessert reception following program.

LLN's bilingual (English/Spanish) program is a culturally meaningful celebration that recognizes the accomplishments of each graduating student and their family. Aztec dance group Kalpulli Ketzalcoatl Ketzal of Stockton opens the event with blessing and drumming.

Dr. Theresa Rojas, English professor and Dr. Marcos Contreras, Spanish professor, will confer stoles to students completing a certificate, associate degree and/or transfer program. The colorful stoles are made of traditional fabric, recognizing the connection to culture and community.

The program also features keynote speaker José González, founder of the Latino Outdoors organization. He is an experienced K-12 school teacher, environmental education advisor, outdoor education instructor and coordinator, and university adjunct faculty member. His commentary on diversity and environmental outreach has been featured by High Country News, Outside, Earth Island Journal, and Latino USA, and he has engaged in collaborations with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. Department of Interior, and the National Park Service. He also represented Latino Outdoors in several coalitions including the Latino Conservation Alliance and the Next 100 Coalition.

González has been recognized with honors by the National Wildlife Federation, Grist Magazine, and The Murie Center. He received his Associate Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Modesto Junior College, Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Davis, and his Master of Science from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment.

During the celebration program, the Social Justice Advocate Award will be presented to Richard Soto for his lifelong work as a change agent advocating for the civil and educational rights of the Latinx community. In 1964 Soto enlisted in the U.S. Navy and chose nursing as his career, and he served in Vietnam with a special medical surgical team in 1966. Upon his return from overseas in 1968, Soto enrolled at San Joaquin Delta College, maintained a 4.0 GPA, became the first president of M.E.Ch.A. in 1969, joined the Brown Berets and worked full time for Safeway while supporting a family of three. As a member of the Brown Berets, he was arrested for medically attending to victims of police brutality during the 1971 Chicano Moratoriums in East Los Angeles. Soto earned A.A., B.A., and M.A. degrees and a General Secondary Teaching Credential. In 1976 he was hired at his alma mater, Tracy High School, as a counselor and worked there for over 30 years.

After retiring he continues to counsel students at Tracy Adult School. In 2016, Soto opened the Chicano Library and Research Center at 2182 E. Main St. in Stockton, where he states, “You will find me reading beautiful Raza history and literature till I die.” He is also inspired by the thousands of young people who have allowed him to work with them to reach their dreams. Soto said, "Although my life is not over yet, I thank you for this greatly appreciated Life Time Achievement Award".

The Raza Graduate Ceremony was made possible in part by a Program Development Grant through the MJC Foundation. The MJC Foundation increases community engagement and financial support to enhance the student experience and strengthen the quality of education at Modesto Junior College.

Contact : Latina Leadership Network: Ariana Gonzalez
Phone : (209) 575-6607
Email :
Web Site :


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