Sammy Publes will be the keynote
speaker at the event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. March
6, 2018 at Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE. The
conference, a community initiative led by GRCC's Bob and Aleicia
Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion, also includes
workshops and presentations designed to encourage West Michigan
eighth-graders to continue their education beyond high school.
“This conference -- the result of collaboration and volunteer
efforts -- will remind these students that they have a whole
community to support them along the way,” said Domingo
Hernández-Gómez, director of the Woodrick Center. "It is
important for them to have a concrete image of what success
looks like and, hopefully, find inspiration in that to strive
for academic excellence."
The title of Publes' presentation is “Sueña Ahora, Actúa
Ahora” (“Dream Now, Act Now”).
Publes emigrated from Cuba with his family as a political
refugee in 1988. He received an Associate in Liberal Arts from
GRCC and a Bachelor of Arts, with a concentration in theater and
Spanish, from Western Michigan University.
"I want to empower the kids to not settle for their story -- to
get up every day understanding that their story is not written,"
he said. "Every day is an opportunity for a new chapter,
particularly for Latino students. As an immigrant myself, I
realize we don’t have a right to be lazy or not be inspired. Our
ancestors have gone through too much to get us here. We owe our
success to them.”
While living in Chicago, Publes performed with the Steppenwolf
Theater Company, Healthworks Theater, Teatro Vista, Apple Tree
Theater, Second City and Lookingglass Theater. He has appeared
in the films “Batman Vs. Superman” and “Stone” and on the TV
shows "The Chi," “Chicago Fire,” Chicago PD,” “Shameless” and
He has started his own theater company, Mixed Roots
Collective, to address inequality of representation in local
theater and film. He is also a co-founder of One World
Diversity in an attempt to address issues of disparity and
inclusion and equality in society.
In addition to Publes' address, the conference includes
workshops designed to help the eighth-graders turn their dreams
into reality. Presenters from the Woodrick Center, Grand Valley
State University, Varnum LP, Mercantile Bank and other community
organizations and businesses will lead sessions that include
career possibilities, goal-setting, financial literacy and
Conference participants will be encouraged to use what they
learn to help others, Hernández-Gómez said.
"While this event is about their dreams, it also about their
community," he said. "They are the next generation of leaders
who have a civic duty to shape their community for the better."
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational
opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years.
Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses,
certification and training programs, and workshops and personal
enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand
Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and
Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.