Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber Scholarship Awards Luncheon
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for giving me the privilege of joining you today.
As you well know, there are few areas in our society more deserving of serious, long-term investments than the education of our state’s children. Before I share with you some of the work we’re doing as a state to invest in our education system, I want to take a few moments to thank some incredible Oregonians.
First, thank you, to the Hispanic Chamber founding member and president Gale Castillo.
As many of you may be aware, Gale has been involved with the Hispanic Chamber since its first days, back in the early 1990s.
To you graduating seniors, yes, that was the last century.
But what many of you might not know is, Gale’s story is a perfect example of why education is so important.
Gale was the first in her family to graduate from high school, and the first in her family to go on to graduate from college, from Oregon’s very own Linfield College. And then, from there, the first in her family to get a Master’s Degree.
Gale then took that training, that preparation, and built a career for herself, and an organization for her community.
That is the power of education.
And today, we’re here to celebrate what the Hispanic Chamber has done to pay it forward, to give young Latinos and Latinas the opportunity to build their own careers, and in turn pay it forward for their children.
Since 1996, the Hispanic Chamber has raised more than $1.7 million in scholarships, supporting 673 students. This year, 65 students are receiving funding, totaling $173,000.
Can those 65 students please stand up and let us give you a big round of applause?
A big thank you to Gale, the entire board of the Hispanic Chamber, and all the private and business donors who made today’s celebration possible.
I’ve had the distinct honor of serving the people of Oregon, first in the Legislature, then and now as the state’s chief executive, for decades.
And now, more than ever, I believe to my core that the job of government – the mission of my administration – is to help ensure that every Oregonian, regardless of income, geography, race or home language – has an equal opportunity to meet their basic needs and still to strive to reach their full potential.
Every community in Oregon has a part to play in meeting this mission. To create that kind of Oregon, we need to be wholly focused on finding ways to invest in our human capacity, in our human potential.
For the Hispanic community in Oregon, the state’s fastest-growing population, it is an investment that will pay dividends. In the last three years, my team has worked tirelessly to make the most of existing investments while developing new resources.
With Dr. Nancy Golden at the helm as Chief Education Officer:
We’ve developed funding for coordinated Early Learning Hubs, placing an emphasis on creating vital connections between access to quality, affordable pre-school and family support and health care.
We’ve focused our K-12 priorities to ensure that every child is ready for kindergarten and staying on track during the important transitions at sixth and ninth grades.
We’ve increased access to higher education, providing strategic investments to help high school students access college credit while still in high school.
And much more. We’re proud of the work we’ve done, yet humbled by the work we have ahead.
We need your help to get that work done. And it is hard, important, exciting work.
But together, we will provide the tools our students need to be Oregon’s engineers, Oregon’s entrepreneurs, Oregon’s innovators. We need inventors and fixers.
Because the challenges we face today are bigger and more complex than anything we as a community have ever faced. From creating clean fuels to power our cars, homes and factories; to addressing our community’s physical and mental health needs; to creating a sustainable economy – we need the best and brightest minds, and those minds are all around us.
I applaud the Hispanic Chamber’s great work, and I applaud each of the 65 winners with us today. I look forward to seeing each of you go on to build a better Oregon, together.