Giving the keynote speech for the Hispanic Heritage Month event,
Nazario, 53, tapped his experience as a former director of
admissions at Michigan State University and at
Cleveland State University, as well as his background as a
Latino who grew up in Lorain, Ohio, to get his message across.
He told students that education isn’t optional, not in the
hi-tech age of the 21st Century. The tools he needed
to succeed in the world aren’t the same tools they will need to
succeed, and they can best sharpen those tools by absorbing as
much knowledge as possible in high school.
“They can take away that car, they can take away that house, but
they can never, ever take away that knowledge,” Nazario said.
His appearance defined the theme for the day, which brought
Latino students from James F. Rhodes High School, John Marshall
9th Grade Academy @ Nathaniel Hawthorne and John
Marshall High School to the assembly in the Lincoln-West
The event cast a wide net on all-things Latino.
In salute to Hispanic Heritage Month, Lincoln-West students used
the 90-minute assembly to showcase the history of Latin
countries. From Spain to Argentina to Venezuela, they brought
the native dress of countries like Puerto Rico and Honduras, and
the regional dances of countries like the Dominican Republic and
Cuba to the stage.
Yet the signature event of the afternoon was Nazario’s 15-minute
speech, which was grounded in Americana.
“What I wanted students to take away from this is that ‘hope’ is
not a strategy,” Nazario said afterward. “The strategy you have
to have is a great attitude and a great support system and you
will succeed no matter what you do. You must fulfill your
“Get that degree,” he said.
His message of empowerment hit a receptive chord. Students
applauded often as Nazario roamed the auditorium floor and
delivered his high-energy lecture. His appearance served as a
fitting close to Hispanic Heritage Month for schools in the
Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Jonathan Rivera, Linkage coordinator with
the Closing the Achievement Gap (CTAG) program, and Robin
Guerrero, a teacher at Lincoln-West, put together the all-school
assembly, which they billed as the “Lincoln-West Hispanic
Rivera, who invited Nazario, introduced the education theme
first when he told Latino students and others to ignore critics
who question their ability to achieve academically.
“I say to you, ‘Forget them,’” Rivera said of the critics. “You
will succeed, and you will make it in this
country. But what you have to have, students, is that education;
what you have to have is that self-attitude that says, ‘I don’t
care what you put in front of me; I’m going to make it.’”