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Valley institute helps others, teaches about leadership

High school and college students attend Arizona State University's Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute. (KTAR Photo/Bob McClay)

MESA, Ariz. -- High school and college students from all over Arizona were in the East Valley on Wednesday learning how to help others and getting a better education themselves.

The student are attending a week-long workshop with Arizona State University's Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute. The program started in 1995 and teaches the students about such things as community involvement and higher learning.

The Institute's Elyssa Bustamonte said the students participated in a food bank and back-to-school clothing drive for the Care Partnership.

"A mission of Cesar Chavez was to empower people and help them no matter what their situation might be," she said. "The Care Partnership directly aligns with the mission of Cesar Chavez, as well as the values of CCLI."

ASU student Miguel Lopez said he learned a lot from his mentor at last year's Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute.

"She did a really good job of showing me the path to college," he said. "Just showing me the kinds of things I needed to do to get to college in terms of financial aid, in terms of the things I should be involved in in college. She was really instrumental to me and I am looking just to give back to the students this year."

Jesus Encinas, a senior at Agua Fria High School in Avondale, Ariz., is glad he's taking part in the program.

"I'm getting out of this a lot of leadership and community service," he said. "I've met a lot of new people as well. It's a fun experience to be here with a lot of people that you don't know. There's a lot of diversity as well."

The Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute is in its 18th year of operation.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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