Una Promesa Campaign

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A historic donation is helping to make the dream of a college education come true for students at Arizona State University. Jose Cardenas is joined by Dr. Sybil Francis, honorary co-chairperson for the Una Promesa campaign, and Avilia Guardiola, an ASU student who is receiving this scholarship.

Jose Cardenas:
Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. Welcome to Horizonte. The scholarship campaign gets a historic donation to help student earn the dream of a college education. We'll tell you about what the campaign is all about. And you'll meet an actress and writer sharing her own personal success story to motivate Latinos. That's next on Horizonte.

Jose Cardenas:
Thanks to the ASU foundation local Hispanic organizations and ASU organized a scholarship campaign called "a promise for the future" the goal was to raise money for unrepresented student in Arizona . The scotch corporation announced a $1 million donation to help fund the program. It represents a historic gift to ASU, the first corporation to provide a commitment to scholarship support across the university. Joining me tonight to talk about this campaign is Dr. Sybil Frances. Doctor Francis is one of the honorary co-chairpersons of the campaign. She is also executive director for the center for the future of Arizona . Also joining us is Avilia Guardiola, one of the students receiving this scholarship. Thank you for joining us on Horizonte. Could you tell us how it got started?

Sybil Francis:
It grew out of a historic relationship ASU has had with community organizations as well as alumnae groups on campus who's concerned about access to the community education. And that has been a long-standing relationship for about 20-years. A few years ago we realized that in order to give the kind of support that we wanted to student we really should think about creating a permanent fund that would in perpetuity allow students to qualify for these scholarships.

Jose Cardenas:
Who are the partners you are referring to?

Sybil Francis:
We have 7 or 8 partners on campus including Chicanos Por La Causa and Los Abogados.

Jose Cardenas:
These are groups that have been involved in scholarship efforts in the past?

Sybil Francis:
Yes. We have had a partnership at ASU with those organizations. And this really solidifies the commitment to the scholarships that have been funded historically.

Jose Cardenas:
Your honorary cochair is Congressman Pastor. How did he get involved?

Sybil Francis:
He is passionate about this issue. He's an ASU alumi himself and was very excited about joining this effort and helping secure important investments in the endowment. And so he, for example, is one of the -- our key partners in talking to the Phelps Dodge folks about the need that we have at ASU for this.

Jose Cardenas:
Dr. Francis, you touched upon this just a little bit. Let's talk a little bit more about the goal both in terms of dollar figure and just what is it that you hope to accomplish?

Sybil Francis:
Well, the dollar figure us the creation of a $3 million endowment. And the significance of that is that it will in perpetuity generate fund for scholarships. The overall goal at ASU, of course, is to create more access to students. ASU's mission, really, is to allow students who are qualified to attend the university, not to worry about the finances. So we have many, many more qualified students than can afford or believe that they can afford to attend the university. So really, that's the setting in which we're working on this endowment campaign.

Jose Cardenas:
And the big news, of course, was the announcement of the Phelps dodge donation. What does that mean to the campaign?

Sybil Francis:
Well, it's huge. $3 million campaign and $1 million investment really puts us very close to our goal. We're about 2.5 million in commitments right now much but more significantly really is the fact that Phelps dodge has recognized the importance of this to their own company and to the economics of Arizona . They understand the

importance of an education, not only broadly speaking to students, but they know that their future is reliant on an educated work force. They exercised enlightened self-interest, I would say.

Jose Cardenas:
You're talking about the economics of Arizona . As I understand it we have some futures here that do make the provision of the scholarship a particularly important. Can you talk about that?

Sybil Francis:
Well, we have a high percentage of our population with student age children who are living at a low-income level. And the university --

Jose Cardenas:
About [indiscernible] I understand.

Sybil Frances:
An university education really seems out of reach. So it's very important to be able to say to those families, your child can have access to the university, can benefit from an education. And we can give you the support in order to achieve that dream.

Jose Cardenas:
As I understand, one of the things that exacerbate the problems is that Arizona does nod have state-funded aid to this area.

Sybil Francis:
That's right. We're one of a hand franz lehar of states that doesn't --handful of states where the state doesn't have a significant contribution in terms of financial aid. Take Georgia as a counter example. Any student who graduates from a Georgia high school with a b or better average is guaranteed to go to the university in Georgia without paying tuition. They get complete support.

Jose Cardenas:
I didn't forget you. You're actually the most important part of all this because in the end it is the student who matters. How important are scholarships like this to you?

Avilia Guardiola:
They're extremely important, not only to myself but to my family as well. These scholarships have helped my success, my academic success has allowed me to take advantage of organizations, opportunities, be part of events, enjoy the full college experience.

Jose Cardenas:
And you're from I understand born and raised on the west side of phoenix?

Avilia Guardiola:
Yes. Avondale.

Jose Cardenas:
How hard was it to get information about scholarship program?

Avilia Guardiola:
It was a little difficult. But my involvement in high school really helped me a lot of the my networking with different teachers, coaches that I had, they all helped inform me about things that were going on, programs, scholarships and things of that sort. So my involvement played a big role in how accessible scholarships were.

Jose Cardenas:
As I understand it you're the first in your immediate family to attend an university.

Avilia Guardiola:
Yes.

Jose Cardenas:
And in your speech which you gave at the announcement of the donation by Phelps Dodge, I've heard wonderful things about. What did you talk about?

Avilia Guardiola:
I kind of just focused on the fact that it made it a little easier to break it down to my father that in order for me to succeed at the university, I needed to move away from home. And having scholarships and the financial aid kind of eased that condition of trying to help my dad understand that it was vital for me to live in the dorm and take advantage of all the resources they provide to freshmen when they first start.

Jose Cardenas:
a little bit off camera about your family. As I understand, your dad from Mexico , traditional Mexican father was not happy to see his daughter leave the house.

Avilia Guardiola:
Absolutely not.

Jose Cardenas:
But the scholarship made a difference.

Avilia Guardiola:
That's right.

Jose Cardenas:
That's great. Sybil, what can we expect to see next in the campaign?

Sybil Francis:
Really, we are so thrilled to be reaching our goal of $3 million. But frankly, that's just the beginning of our commitment to continue improving access to asu. It's a very important start. But the needs are huge. And we are really pleased with the Phelps Dodge investment because we think it reflects an understanding on the part of a major corporation of what the need is. And we certainly hope others will follow. The community engagement has been really terrific. And so the understanding that this is going to be a partnership between the corporate world, the community and the university in terms of increasing access. And that's going to be a huge thing. We are going to keep going raising funds. This is just the beginning.

Jose Cardenas:
Avilia, we also talked earlier about different resources that are available out there for students such as yourself. You indicated that for reasons of paying attention to other things, high school counselors aren't necessarily as useful in terms of having information as they might be. But there are other sources. Tell us about those.

Avilia Guardiola:
The community resource center, most high schools have them. They always have scholarships there. Different opportunities. Usually when universities meet to communicate the word of conferences and things like that, they kind of refer to counselors but I think the career center is an useful center students need to take advantage of.

Jose Cardenas:
You mentioned the ASU.edu web site.

Avilia Guardiola:
Yes. That is absolutely a very useful resource, especially with the new setup they have. It's really easy to access scholarships in may be to the school of business or community scholarships, It's very organized and very user friendly.

Jose Cardenas:
On the other hand, some of what you were able to find out was more happenstance. You had some family contacts that turned you on to some places where you can go get information. Tell us about that.

Avilia Guardiola:
Well, my high school involvement, playing softball I had a coach who directed me toward a program. And in that program it was kind of to get the student familiar with ASU and feel comfortable with being here and with all that. They introduced us to many scholarships. They even helped us start a format of how we should approach scholarships and the questions and things of that sort.

Jose Cardenas:
In terms of dollars, your first year at ASUhow much are we talking about in terms of what it meant to you and your ability to attend as a freshman?

Avilia Guardiola:
As a freshman I was able and fortunate enough to gain scholarships enough to take care of all my expenses. I really enjoyed my freshman year, took advantage of like I said alt. Resources ASU really has to offer. And if I hadn't had those scholarships I'd have to be working in other departments and doing other things to make up for that money. And there was a significant amount to cover all my expenses.

Jose Cardenas:
I understand in total around $13,000.

Avilia Guardiola:
Yes.

Sybil Francis:
If I could just jump in there for a moment. The beauty of this particular about scholarships. There's a whole package of support structures for the students, training them, tracking them how they're doing, getting to knows each other I n various types of events. So the dollars are important. But it's also important for the students to feel part of the community. I think this program has done that successfully. And more generally, the more scholarship dollars we can raise the more the university can step I n and generate those supports as well for students.

Jose Cardenas:
Dr. Francis, we talked a little bit out there about something else that's slightly different but I think it's important. That I s the university's efforts to recruit and how deeply into the schools you're going. Could you talk to us about that?

Sybil Francis:
Well, we are really committed to this notion of access and letting kids know what I t takes to go to the university, but also providing that support. So we have -- we have staff in the schools even in k-8 schools trying to expose kids to ASU, of course, since that's where we're recruiting. To so even in the k-8 level we have people from the schools, brings in professors from the university, brings kids on campus, bringing them to basketball games. And then in the high schools we have staff in the schools tracking kids starting their freshman year. Are they taking the courses that they need to graduate? Are they taking the necessary courses that they need in order to be eligible to apply to the university?

Jose Cardenas:
So it's a pretty concerted effort.

Sybil Francis:
Very.

Jose Cardenas:
Thank you for joining us on Horizonte. Dr. Sybil Francis, honorary chairman of the promise campaign. And one of the recipients of the scholarships.

Jose Cardenas:
Evelina Fernandez inspires people across the valley with her story. Producer Larry Lemmons sat down with her.

Larry Lemmons:
Round about Oscar time you start hearing that there aren't enough parts for women, that there are never enough roles for Latinos. I n your own experience, how would you describe the state of Hollywood today?

Evelina Fernandez:
Well, I think it's still very difficult to get a Latino story on the big screen. It seems as though we have wonderful stories. I mean, we have epics about Mexican people coming, fleeing Mexico because of the Mexican revolution, coming and working I n the copper mines in Arizona. Now, these are just stories from my family alone, okay? But it's so difficult to get Hollywood to believe that these are great stories. And even if they do believe it's a great story, somehow they want to turn it into something because they just don't -- they don't have faith in telling a good story on film. And I believe that we go to films to connect with the people that you see. I mean, not action movies. That's a whole different thing. But when you go to see a film and you relate to the human beings that you're watching on the screen, I mean, I think that's the magic of film for you to be able to enter, believe, experience. And we have those kind of stories just like everybody else. I mean, every culture, every civilization. But somehow I t's still kind of difficult for us. it's better. I'm not complaining. I mean, for the longest time George Lopez was the only Latino on prime time. But now we have America Ferrera. And she has a big hit "ugly betty." so that's great. That's great. We have -- you see a Latino on c.s.i., you see -- on gray's anatomy. So you're starting to see more and more Latino faces. And I love to see episodics like gray's anatomy where you look at the cast and it looks like the world, you know? There's Asians and African Americans and ladinos. And so many times you go to L.A. , anything that takes place in L.A. you have to have Latinos in it. I mean, we're the majority there. So when I see something that's supposed to be set in L.A. and there's no Latinos it just drives me batty. But it's easier than it was. But it's still so difficult. And my son is an act or, my daughter is studying to be an actor. And I think it's going to be much better for them. Much better for them than it has been for me or for people that came before or after me.

Larry Lemmons:
Can you talk a little bit about your challenges that you've had to face personally? I mean, being a playwright and an actress, how different I t might have been for you than for your children? What sort of challenges did you have to overcome?

Evelina Fernandez:
First of all, when I started in the business, I don't think there were any Latinos on television.

Larry Lemmons:
You were on Roseanne for awhile, weren't you?

Evelina Fernandez:
I was on Roseanne. I was on Roseanne for the first two seasons. And then producers got really smart and moved her to another job or took her out of the factory. I was like, oh, great. But it wasn't a significant role. I was one of her buddies in the factory. And I love Roseanne. She was a great friend when I was working with her. But those were the roles back then, in the 80's. You had the black friend, the Latino friend. So those were the roles that we had in the 80's. Then in the 90's you started seeing us playing more significant roles. But for me, I guess the challenge has been that years go by very quickly, you know? Time doesn't stand still. And so -- by the time you know it, five years has gone by and your last project was five years ago, you know? My last movie that was produced was released in 2001. And here we are in 2006. And I just finished the next movie that I wrote. But five years went by that quickly.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, before we get to your new one let's talk a little bit about luminaire. What did you try to say in that work? Better yet, what did you hope people took away from that work?

Evelina Fernandez:
A couple of things. One, I wanted to show professional Latinas on the big screen. Because up until then, I don't remember a film that showed a Latino lawyer or psychologist. And so that was one of my main goals when I wrote that film. I wanted to portray us as the way I see us. I think we're great women. Latina women are strong and passionate and intelligent, just like everybody else. So that was one goal. And the other thing I wanted to do was explore our issues as Latinos. Because I know that we're very sensitive about people being prejudiced towards us. But at the same time, we're prejudiced towards others. And I wanted to explore that a little bit. I know that in Latino families, many times It's okay for the daughter to bring a white guy home, but if she brings an African American guy home that's a whole different story. Or an Asian man home. That's a whole different story. So even though we're victims of racism we turn around and dot same thing. So I wanted to explore that a little bit in luminaire. And then what I wanted to portray is hope in the future. In the last few years you have in Nadia a Latina dancing with a Jewish man with, an Asian man, you see a young Latino with an African American girl. You see the gay brother. So basically, my point is that this is the future. We might as well embrace it. I mean, we're all going to connect with each other sooner or later. I mean, there's no way that races can stay away from each other. Because we're all human beings and we're going to fall in love with each other and have babies together and all that stuff. So that was a goal, too, that there's hope in the future.

Larry Lemmons:
And relating towards dementia, why don't you tell us about that work?

Evelina Fernandez:
Dementia is loosely based on an experience that my husband and I went through when his best friend died of aids. And he was a wonderful man with a great spirit, a theater artist. And he died of aids. But before he died he became brutally honest with all of us. He had nothing to lose. And he had dementia. So he would go off. And so what I did was, it was originally a play. And so the play takes place in reality and in his imagination. And that's kind of the way we shot the film. It's about a Latino dying of aids and what the people around him go through when he's dying. But I t has a lot of humor in it. I mean, I noticed that when we did the play, it was amazing to me. Because it's such a complicated issue with the Latino community.

Larry Lemmons:
Could you talk a little more about that? I know you touched on it a little bit.

Evelina Fernandez:
Well, just, I'm -- it's just -- there's a machismo in our culture that prevents us from easily accepting homosexuality in our culture. And homosexuality has been a part of civilization since the begin -- beginning of time. It's so much easier now than it was. Especially in L.A. I don't know Arizona or Phoenix . in L.A. there's a huge gay community. And we have the gay pride parade. And our mayor was the grand Marshall of the gay pride parade. I mean, that's how far we've gotten and how far we've gone in L.A. . But in the Latino community, it's still very much an issue. I think that in a lot of Mexico and a lot of Latin American countries there's a lot of bisexuality because of this denial of being a -- homosexual. So men try to live a normal life. At the same time, they're having sex with men. And like I say, coming in and coming back and having sex with their spouses and infecting them.

Larry Lemmons:
Well, I'd like to talk a little bit about the motivational speaking. I know you talk a lot to kids. What do you say to them?

Evelina Fernandez:
Be Sure. I kind of fell into this because I did a film called "American me" with Edward James Olmos. After that film, people wanted Eddie and me to go speak to kids about not joining gangs. It was kind of foreign to me.Because even though I was born and raised in that life. It wasn't part of who I was. But when I started going to speak to them I realized that they were just kids. Yeah. They were dressed I n the gash and everything but they were just kid. Somebody could say, hey, get out of this. You can do something with your life. And I just kind of fell into it that way and especially with the girls talked to them about my experience of dropping out of school and getting married at a very young age. And then they started listening to my story, because then they felt like I had experienced the same kinds of things that they had experienced. And so I talked to them about my life. I talked to them about education. I talked to them about how difficult it is to have children at a very young age. There's so much pregnancy that's still unwanted pregnancies that are still going on, you know, I n our community. You'd think we would -- but with a lot of new immigrants, they're still living the old way. The old world, you know. And it's still okay for them to get pregnant and have children at a very young age. And then the next thing you know there's children raising children and it's a vicious cycle. So I talk to them a lot about that.

Larry Lemmons :
Thank you, Ms. Fernandez for being with us today.

Evelina Fernandez:
Thank you. I had a great time.

Jose Cardenas:
If you would like a transcript of tonights show or would like to learn about future topics log on to our website, azpbs.org, and click on Horizonte. That's Horizonte for tonight. I'm José Cárdenas. For everyone here at Horizonte have a good evening.

Dr. Sybil Frances: Director/Honorary Chairman, Una Promesa Campaign ;

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