Photojournalist A. Dennis Gaxiola


Exhibit - Latino Role Models             Home Page | Galeria-Photojournalists
 

Evelyn Cisneros
Evelyn Cisneros
Prima Ballerina

Luis Valdez
Luis Valdez
Playwright, Director

Janice Garcia
Janice Garcia
Gang Prevention

Armando Garcia
Armando Garcia
High Tech Entrepreneur

Dolores Huerta
Dolores Huerta
UFW Vice President

Jaime Escalante
Jaime Escalante
Teacher

• See part 2 of this exhibit with six more exciting photographs and biographies.
• See the photographer notes: comments/behind-the-scenes information about photos.
• This Exhibit is now available in Spanish (Español).


 

Evelyn Cisneros
Prima Ballerina

 

 

 

 

 

Prima Ballerina like a character in a fairy tale, Evelyn Cisneros transformed herself from a painfully shy child into a famed prima balerina loved the world over. As the only Mexican American at her school in Huntington Beach, California, Evelyn was often teased about her nationality by other children. To help her out of her retreat into shyness, Evelyn's mother enrolled her in ballet classes. There, she developed her outstanding grace and ability, and her confidence.

At 14, Evelyn left home to attend the San Francisco Ballet School. By her mid-teens, her promise as a ballerina was widely recognized. At 18, she became a member of the San Francisco Ballet.

Today, Evelyn is one of the country's top ballerinas. She has performed before audiences throughout the world, and in 1982, danced at a special White House performance. Evelyn still takes time to visit Latino children in schools, taking to them her message of drive and determination. She also maintains a strong sense of roots, crediting much of her achievement to the strength provided by her family.

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Luis Valdez
Playwright, Poet, Actor,
and Director

 

 

 

 

 

The son of migrant farmworkers, Luis VaIdez is founder of the world-famous Teatro Campesino. In the mid-1960s, Teatro Campasino began establishing its reputation performing on flatbed trucks in the fields where farmworkers were struggling for humane working conditions.

Combining his talent for drama and satire, Luis entertained and educated the public about the plight of farmworkers. At the same time he articulated a message about the rich heritage of Mexican Americans and other Latinos, enabling them to reassert their own self-worth.

Luis has authored plays, scripts, and poetry, and acted and directed. In 1977, Luis was named Artist in Residence by the Rockefeller Foundation, and shortly after, created the smash play, Zoot Suit. In 1987, he directed the Hollywood box office hit, La Bamba, and created the stage play, Corridos: Tales of Passion and Revolution. Today, he continues his association with El Teatro Campesino in producing powerful Latino drama.

For three decades, Luis' use of universal themes within a Latino context has brought about a greater appreciation for the rich diversity of our nation.

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Janice Garcia
Gang Prevention Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

A third generation gang member, Janice Garcia seemed destined to continue her legacy of drugs and crime. Then at 16, a sympathetic counselor diverted her out of the criminal justice system and into job training.

Trained as a medical assistant, she began to see herself in a new light. Now she was someone skilled and entitled to a good education. She remembered how one special person helped her change her life for the better. As a gang prevention specialist, Janice herself is often that sole person who makes a difference in a misdirected girl's life.

Janice takes her powerful personal message to young women who belong to gangs or are being pressured to join gangs, showing them the other options available. From firsthand experience, she shows them how to find a new lease on life.

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Armando Garcia
High Technology
Entrepreneur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Now is the time to change and make the choice for education," says Armando Garcia. The son of migrant farmworkers and a high school dropout, Armando battled to overcome his feelings of inferiority and now owns a multi-million dollar high technology company.

Armando was first guided towards entrepreneurship by his grandfather, who ran a small restaurant. He told Armando that to be free he must be in business for himself. After serving in the Navy, Armando enrolled in a community college. To his surprise, he did well. With that confidence boost he went on to enroll at San Jose State University, where he turned a business class project into a $1.5 million enterprise.

Armando credits his wife, his parents and a mentor for his success. Even so, he does not list his business successes as his top accomplishments, reserving accolades for his 23 year marriage, his children, and for volunteer work as a religious education teacher.

As often as he can, Armando takes time to speak to youths about the world of possibilities through education.

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Dolores Huerta
UFW Vice President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After starting off on a career as a school teacher, Dolores Huerta turned to teaching farmworkers about human rights and helped organize the fledgling United Farm Workers Union. She became the Vice President of the union and established a worldwide reputation as an organizer and advocate for non-violent protest.

A quiet woman full of fierce determination, Dolores came to California from New Mexico as a child with her mining and farmworking family. As someone who knew firsthand the inhumane conditions under which many farmworkers labored, she set out to bring about needed change. She relentlessly worked to get consumers around the world to demand their produce come from farms where collective bargaining agreements spelled out decent working conditions for those who picked the crops.

Dolores was one of the architects of the UFW policy of non-violence. This policy was a key factor in building international support in the1960s for the farmworker cause. It helped turn what could have been a localized labor dispute into a worldwide moral crusade. Today, nearly four decades after she began working with the late Cesar Chavez, Dolores remains a powerful source of inspiration to those who aspire for justice.

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Jaime Escalante
Teacher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his native Bolivia, Jaime Escalante was an undisciplined student who went into teaching only because he could not afford to attend engineering school. Several years later, Jaime has become recognized as one of the top American educators for his unique teaching style and motivational approach.

In the early 1960s, with his wife and child, Jaime immigrated to the United States, settling in Los Angeles. He worked as a busboy and cook to support his family while taking classes at night to earn his American degree and teaching credential.

In 1974, Jaime became a basic math teacher at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles. Four years later, despite predictions of failure, he began his first Advanced Placement Calculus class for his mainly Latino students, achieving remarkable success. That very success by students who had previously performed poorly led the testing service that administers the College Board's Advanced Placement Calculus test to "suggest" that his students had cheated. The students were ordered to take the test again.

Their vindication in passing the test again was the basis for the hit film, Stand and Deliver which sparked the nation's imagination with its true story of how one person motivated others to achieve.

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