Mesa College Leadership Summit a Success for Area Youths

On Friday, March 23, 2007, San Diego Mesa College campus hosted the inaugural African American/Latino Male Summit, a one-day forum that focused on improving self-awareness and personal growth skills, as well as examined the cultural issues that impact and affect the success rate for this community. This leadership workshop is believed to be one of the first of its kind offered for this age group.

The summit brought together nearly 150 seniors from the college’s feeder high schools, including Patrick Henry, Mission Bay, Clairemont, Point Loma and Mark Twain high schools, Jackie Robison Community School, the Kearny High School fourplex and the Mesa-based MET middle school.

Alex Macias, an eleventh-grader from Mission Bay High School, enjoyed the event to its fullest.

“The summit gets me motivated to achieve more in life. Going to college was always in the back of my mind…but now its moves to the front,” Macias said.

Macias goals are to earn a business degree and help his father in the family’s automobile repair business in Pacific Beach.

“I’m understanding the whole commitment to attend college and I hope to demonstrate what I have learned today in the near future,” said Hugo Vaquera, Mission Bay High School student.

The summit was organized by the Mesa College Matriculation and Student Services Department as a direct response to the startlingly low success rate of African-American and Latino males in post-high school life. The number of African American boys who said they hated school rose 71% between 1980 and 2001. African American and Latino males have a higher rate of not completing high school, and incarceration. The numbers show that fewer seek post-secondary education, and those that do have a higher fail rate.

“Young African-American and Latino males are falling behind in almost every measure compared to other ethnic groups,” said Joi Blake, Dean of Matriculation and Student Services.

The keynote speaker of the summit was Doug Luffborough, Executive Director of the Turning the Hearts Center Program in San Diego. Luffborough overcame a speech impediment early in childhood, and gang involvement as a teenager, to graduate from three academic institutions, Northeastern University, Harvard University and Stanford University.

He reminded the audience that you must become a ladder holder in life before you can climb the ladder of success. He declared all the students that attended the summit were college eligible and full attendance as a group to institutions of higher learning would deem this summit as a success.