MJC hosts 30th annual Hispanic Education Conference

Mark Verscheldon

Modesto Junior College’s annual Hispanic Education Conference will focus on leadership and feature MJC graduate Tamara Mena as keynote speaker.

The free conference, set for March 22 at the east campus auditorium, aims to motivate an anticipated 800 high school students to aspire to higher education and show them a range of career paths.

The theme for this year’s conference is “30 Years of Excellence! Educating Future Leaders.” Students attend career workshops presented by Hispanic professionals on topics such as giving speeches without stress; advocacy; staying out of gangs; and careers in education. There will also be workshops on California State University admission requirements and MJC admissions.

Mena is a motivational speaker, host, spokesperson, product representative and self-proclaimed “eternal optimist.” Born and raised in Mexico, she immigrated to the United States at the age of 13. At 19, she suffered a horrific car accident that left her paralyzed from the midchest down. As she healed, Mena chose to dedicate her life to sharing a message of hope and perseverance.

She returned to her studies and graduated with honors from MJC in April 2008, achieving an associate of arts in transfer studies. She majored in communications studies at California State University, Stanislaus, graduating summa cum laude (highest honors).

Mena has been featured on English- and Spanish-speaking TV shows, including “Sabado Gigante,” “The Doctors” and “El Hormiguero.” She participated in the reality TV show “Nuestra Belleza Latina.” As the first woman in a wheelchair to be selected to participate on the show, her appearance garnered the attention of a large number of viewers.