In this post, I discuss the reasons why a positive role model is not only a good thing, but a “critical thing” for Latino/Hispanic students. If you are like me, at first glance, it seems obvious that a positive role model is a good thing. However, instead of giving a cursory glance, I challenged myself to stop and explore what a positive role model is and why a positive role model is not only a good thing, but a “critical thing!”
About two years ago, I heard the President of the United States say that in today’s uncertain and difficult economic times “a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity, it is a prerequisite.” Throughout my 20 year professional legal career, I maintained a passionate interest in programs designed to strengthen under-resourced Latino/Hispanic students’ ability to succeed in challenging academic environments. I was compelled to dedicate my career to bringing innovation and experience towards overcoming the obstacles that inhibit the academic success of Latino and Hispanic youth in our country, so I started a company called OjoOido-Academics.com LLC. One of the first things that I had to do was to recruit individuals that the Latino/Hispanic Community could identify with. This is when I realized that I could no longer just accept the explanation that it’s obvious that a “positive role model is a good thing.” I had to answer why.
After conducting research, I concluded that at best, the definition and concept of a role model, particularly with respect to race/gender based preferences, is ambiguous. However, I discovered common guiding principles. Based on these principles, I decided to select and use the following three categories/criteria to describe the OjoOido Role Model. First, the OjoOido Role Model has demonstrated ethical conduct that serves as an ethical template for the exercise of adult responsibilities. Second, the OjoOido Role Model serves as a symbol of special achievement. Third, the OjoOido Role Model must be a nurturer that can provide special educational services.
Where do I find the OjoOido Role Model? I first turned to the proverb if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. The first OjoOido Role Model “duck” that came to my mind was an old childhood friend and schoolmate whose name is Mario Olivares. Mario was two years ahead of me in Pierce High School in Arbuckle, California and in the same class as my brother Pablo. Mario, as recalled, had always been held in high esteem by our small agricultural community, in general, and by the Latinos/Hispanics in our community, in particular. When I caught up with Mario here is what I found…
Mario Olivares had worked with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California for 34 years of service in outpatient pharmacy services. He received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of California, San Francisco in 1979. In 1982, he earned a Masters in Business Administration from the University of San Diego Graduate School of Business.
Over the years, Mario has participated in numerous health career fairs and has given inspirational and motivational presentations to many students in the public school system. His presentations are educational, informative and entertaining. In 2012, Mario transitioned to pursue his passion and musical career on a full time basis. A world-class Latin-Spanish Instrumental Guitarist who is widely known for his branded “signature sound.”
Mario incorporates his world-class guitar playing to get students’ attention to deliver his message, “follow your dream.” He was once asked to play for a friend who was on his death bed in the hospital. As difficult as this was, Mario graciously accepted and brought peace and tranquility to a dying man. Mario has appeared on local and national television to tell his story. His fluency in Spanish makes him a speaker in demand to the Hispanic community.
Mario received national attention and airplay as band leader on the “Boomer Show” with Brian Christie from 2005-2008. Mario’s music has been placed in commercials and in television. In May, 2013, Mario was invited to perform in concert at the XVI International World of Guitar Festival in Kaluga, Russia. “SuperBand” members also included Roman Miroshnichenko, Charlie Bisharat, Dominique DiPiazza and Over Serrano.
Mario Olivares resides in the San Diego area with his wife, Michele and his two daughters, Lindsey and Brooke. Both Lindsey and Brooke are graduates of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. Currently, Lindsey is a freelance visual development artist/illustrator working with major studios, including DreamWorks and Disney, and Brooke is a painter and teaches painting/ illustration at her alma mater, Ringling College of Art and Design. An insightful and inspired interview with the visual artist, Lindsey, can be read here.
I believe that using the three categories/criteria described above and referring to Judith Thomson’s and George Sher’s (both philosophers) definition “that role models are individuals that students can in some way identify with andinspire students to believe that they are capable of high accomplishment,” makes the concept and definition of Role Model less ambiguous and explains why individuals, like Mario Olivares and his daughters, are positive Role Models for Latino/Hispanic students; and that is a “critical thing.”
Please take the time, if you haven’t already done so, to read “First an Outcast, Then an Inspiration” by Celia McGee.
See. Hear. Learn!