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From the “Barrio” to the Classroom

Carolina Fernandez
University Press
Sep 29, 2011

Lieutenant Colonel Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch is a Mexican U.S. Army veteran with an empowering story. She visited FAU’s Boca campus on Mon. Sept. 26 in the Majestic Royal Palm Room at the Student Union to share her message with students at an event called Influential Latinos and Latinas.

In the light of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Department of Multicultural Programming and the Office of Multicultural Affairs invited the speaker not only to celebrate being Hispanic, but to motivate students to stay in school, choose the right path, and make a difference however they can.“I like how she told us that we don’t have to fit the mold that we’re expected to,” said Andrew Perlin, a senior Accounting major with a Colombian heritage background, “and we don’t have to engage in violence or be failures just because we’re Hispanic.”

Kickbusch spoke of her personal struggles growing up in an unfamiliar country with a family that was forced to flee their home in Mexico, as well as how she made it through college, and graduated. She emphasized that education should be a student’s most prized possession.

“You are the best and the brightest,” she told her audience, “and we want you to fulfill your destiny.”

Students were especially inspired by her dedication to getting a higher education after spending 20 years as the highest ranking Latin female in combat support, where she provided assistance and operational services for combat in the U.S. Army.

“I feel motivated to be a better student and graduate,” said Michael Huet, a freshman who works for Owl TV. “I’ll be the first one in my family to graduate from college.”

Kickbusch will be featured in HBO’s documentary film The Latino List, which premiers on Wed., Sept. 28 at 9 p.m. and was also published as a book. Some of the other influential Hispanic figures featured in The Latino List are Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Pitbull.

Kickbusch has visited more than 1,000 school districts, which is almost 1 million children and young adults, in 47 states over the last 17 years. She carries her message everywhere she goes.

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