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Quiñones’ moral compass comes to campus

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John Quiñones, co-anchor of ABC’s “Primetime,” correspondent for “20/20” and anchor for the TV show, “What Would You Do?” will give his speech, “A 20/20 Vision of Hispanic America” a7 p.m. today at CSU-Pueblo in the Hoag Recital Hall.

“Quiñones will be kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month,” which begins today, said Nicky Damania, the director of Student Activities and a member of the Major Events Committee.,

John Quinones publicity photo
John Quinones, host of "What Would You Do?"

“He comes from this (Hispanic) background, and has achieved so much,” Damania said. “He is a well-known Hispanic journalist and a proud member of the community, as well as an Upward Bound alumni.”

Quiñones said he will speak about his life and upbringing as a Mexican-American in a barrio of Texas, as well as his accomplishments as a journalist and the social issues Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans face today. He said he will also incorporate audience participation as he will be showing clips from his show, “What Would You Do?”

Quiñones said he grew up in poverty in San Antonio, Texas.  He traveled around the country during the harvest seasons with his family who were migrant farm workers.   His father also worked as a janitor and his mother was a housecleaner, Quiñones said in a phone interview.

It was then that he said he realized he wanted more for himself.

“I saw the struggle, but I had big dreams. I also wanted to prove to the world that not all Latinos were involved in drugs, and gangs and in jail,” Quiñones said.  “We (Hispanic) are just as worthy as everyone else. I set out to prove that and I never took ‘no’ for an answer.”

As a child, Quinones said he was punished for speaking Spanish in school. It was the same ability to speak the language that got him his job at ABC, today.

“When kids see me up on that stage and they see that I’m Latino, they will say: ‘There’s a guy who looks like me and he’s achieved his dream, despite the odds,’” Quiñones said. “I am living my dream. I love shining a light on the dark corners of the world to expose corruption.”

The recent immigration issues in the country will also be a subject of his speech, Quinones said.

He said his message to the Latino community is as follows:

“Remain strong despite what is happening in neighboring states,” Quiñones said. “My message to the rest of America is that we aren’t going anywhere. We (Latinos) work very hard for what we have in this country… We should be proud of who we are. John Quiñones is as much of American as Brian Williams.”

Quiñones, who has a master’s degree from the Columbia School of Journalism, has won eight Emmy Awards for his work as a broadcast journalist.

“I will also speak about the struggles to earn a degree. My passion was journalism,” Quiñones said. “In this country, as long as our stories are correct, we have our facts right, we can tell any story. We can expose any wrong-doing out there.”

Quiñones’ show, “What Would You Do?” uses actors to stage ethical scenarios, the show then records the various reactions from everyday people.

“It’s a very enlightening show,” Quinones said. “Everyone shows their true colors. Either they don’t give a damn, or they turn into a hero.”

Quiñones said he hopes to inspire the students of CSU-Pueblo.

“I hope some will walk away realizing they, too, can achieve whatever dream they may have,” Quinones said. “ My message is simple: Don’t give up on your dreams.”

The Distinguished Speaker Series features national and international speakers who contribute to social and political activities. The series is meant to inspire students and the community to think critically about today’s issues, according to the Distinguished Speakers Series pamphlet.

Quiñones will be the first of four speakers to appear at CSU-Pueblo in the fall semester for the second year of The Distinguished Speakers Series. The Distinguished Speakers Series is free and open to the public.

The other speakers will appear as follows:

Joel Cohen,“The Business Tao of Homer: Lessons in Creativity and Innovation from The Simpsons,” will speak on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Occhiato Ballroom.

Sherman Joseph Alexie Jr., author of “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” will speak on Oct.25 at noon in the Massari Arena.

Betty Ann Waters, a single mother who became a lawyer to defend her brother on death-row, will speak on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. in the Occhiato Ballroom.

To learn more call the Office of Student Activities at 549-2586.