Latino speaker inspires students
|By Pat Kumpan
delivers his message of hope to students during
‘Conquista Tus Suenos’ seminar at Poway High. Staff
photo by Craig Racicot.
It often takes someone who speaks your language to get the
message across — reason enough for Latino Carlos Devis to
deliver his recent “Realize Your Dreams” workshop completely
Establish your dream and don’t let anyone stop you from
reaching your goals, Devis told his audiences last week.
The Sept. 22 session of “Conquista Tus Suenos” was held at
Poway High School for middle and high school students, while
parents had their segment Sept. 23 at the Poway Boys &
The workshops drew more than 300 students and about 50
parents, said Blanca Fisher, the event’s organizer and a
Valley Elementary School mom.
“I had a goal for these kids,” she said. “I never imagined
the response would be like this.”
Devis told the students that he immigrated to the United
States with his parents from Bogata, Colombia, more than 50
years ago. He was only 6.
He had obstacles, similar to what most immigrants face, he
said. Learning English was one of them, but he told his young
audience that there are “no excuses” for not succeeding,
whether their families are poor or living in low-income
Devis told a true story about a boy named Ricardo, who
dreamed about the house he would one day own: a home with a
fireplace and a swimming pool.
While others told the boy that he was foolish to have such
a lofty dream, Ricardo could visualize what he wanted and he
drew a picture to capture that vision.
“That picture is now framed on his mantle in his dream
home,” Devis said. “His dream became a reality, because he
believed he could succeed in life.”
Traveling throughout the United States, Devis repeats much
of that story to Latino children everywhere. He hopes he’s
removing barriers for them, opening doors, he said.
His recent visit to Poway spoke volumes about one major
factor in his own success as a motivational speaker, he knows
how to connect with fellow Latinos of all ages.
He says his talk simply can be described as “viene del
corazon,” or in English, “it comes from the heart.”
And it wasn’t all seriousness. Devis spiced up his
presentation with some humorous anecdotes, such as, “I’ve
always been a millionaire, I just didn’t have the money.”
But the most revealing part of the seminar were the
testimonials from Poway High students, including one boy who
stood up to say that he had a job, but decided to leave it and
go back to school.
Not everyone in his family backed him immediately, but he
made getting his high school diploma a priority, and now he’s
getting more support from his family.
For Poway High senior Monica Guerra, there were tears her
first week of school because she didn’t think she fit in, and
she had lots of classes to make up.
Now the senior, who exuded lots of vibrant personality
during her chat with Devis, has caught up with her class load,
will graduate this year and has a job at McDonald’s.
“It’s not a grand job or anything like that, but I’m
working hard,” she said. “I have a job and I’m graduating.”
Kelly Sanchez, a seventh-grader from Meadowbrook Middle
School said she plans on taking Devis’ advice.
“Life would be miserable without an education,” she said.
Her dream is to become an architect and eventually design
apartment buildings that look good, but also have reasonable
rents for low-income families, she said.
To the surprise of many of the students, Poway High
Principal Scott Fisher addressed the group in Spanish during
“Maybe Scott doesn’t know it, but he made valuable points
with students today,” said Mary Ochoa. “They connected.”
Ochoa works in PUSD and also assists with Latino Bridges, a
group that looks at district programs and evaluates if they
meet the needs of latino students. And if not, what can be
done to improve those programs, she said.
With more and
more Latino students coming into PUSD, the service is expected
to be in greater demand in the upcoming years, Ochoa added.
She called the recent seminars “confidence building,” a
great way for Latino students to set goals and look positively
toward their futures.
Several Spanish-speaking volunteers were available during
the talks to help non-Spanish speaking attendees with
The city of Poway backed the program with $1,500, while the
accounting firm of Cobb, Stees & Company in Rancho
Bernardo pitched in $5,000.
Laura Stees of that firm said that her company could see
the potential in helping local Latino students.
Her business recently helped underwrite a visit by Devis to
San Marcos schools so when she was approached to assist Poway,
she was glad to do so, she said.
Poway Unified School District opened Poway High’s gymnasium
for the half-day seminar, which included free lunch by
Quizno’s, along with other goodies from local merchants.