As Jose Limon, Jr., paced a college classroom full of slumping shoulders and hanging heads yesterday, Eloise Zapata hung intently on every word.
"We're the fastest-growing minority in this country, but we are the poorest," Mr. Limon, a General Motors engineer, said to a room full of Hispanic high school students. "Why? Because we have the poorest education. But you can be a success if you choose to be."
Mr. Limon was one of more than a dozen presenters during Toledo Public Schools' Latino Career Day at Lourdes College in Sylvania.
About 180 students from four Toledo high schools - Waite, Bowsher, Libbey, and Woodward - got information on college and career choices during the half-day event.
Miss Zapata, a senior at Waite, asked how her interest in art might translate into a lucrative career with an automaker.
"That is what my daughter is majoring in right now," Mr. Limon told her. "Sculptors and artists at General Motors start at $80,000 a year. That's a good living."
Students heard presentations from firefighters, journalists, teachers, nurses, construction workers, social workers, college educators, and cosmetologists.
Each presenter told students to stay in school, go to college, and set goals now to guide their working lives.
"Everybody looks at you right now, they look at you and say that you [as a Hispanic] are going to fail," Toledo firefighter Edward Granados explained. "You prove them wrong."
This was the fourth consecutive year that Toledo Public has held its Latino Career Day at Lourdes. Jose Luna, the school district's coordinator of bilingual education and related programs, said the venue helps to inspire those who attend the annual program.
"Any time that Hispanic kids get a chance to set foot on a college campus is a good experience for them," Mr. Luna said. "It's just not something that they usually have an opportunity to do."
Students had the opportunity to attend up to three seminars on different career fields. Seniors were separated for one session to allow them to focus on how to successfully seek financial aid to attend college.
Rafael Sanson, Jr., a junior at Waite, said the presentations provided him with a better understanding of the choices before him.
"I'm still looking around [for a career choice]. I'm looking at going into technology," the 17-year-old said. "This helps explain things more, if I'm really interested in something."
Victoria Herrera, a 16-year-old Bowsher sophomore, agreed.
"You got different choices of what you want to do," she said of the presentations. "I really liked the one about the arts."
Contact Larry P. Vellequette at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6091.