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CAPs speaker series takes flight

Victor Rios delivered an inspirational speech on Wednesday as part one of the CAPs’ series.

By Kevin Khachatryan, Staff Writer

Victor Rios speaks at a Career and Academic Pathways open house event on November 30, 2022 at Los Angeles Valley College at Monarch Hall in the Campus Center. (Griffin O'Rourke | Valley Star)

Inspiration radiated throughout Monarch Hall yesterday as Victor Rios shared his life struggles to a crowd of over 100 needle-focused audience members. Students, faculty and community members flocked to Valley College to see the first of two speakers in the series.


The event series targeted students who are struggling to choose what major they want to study, and organizers hope students will be inspired to find the right education pathway. This is where Rios comes in — to help encourage Monarchs using his personal experience of living on the streets, dropping out of school and being incarcerated as a juvenile.


“I lived two lifetimes,” said Victor Rios at the Career and Academic Pathways event. “My first 18 years of life was filled with misery, and the next lifetime was full of redemption, education and living a life of happiness to help others in my community.”


English professor Scott Weigand introduced Rios at the event in Campus Center.


“We were really excited to have him come over to help our students,” said Weigand. “He possesses a very inspirational story that students will hear in his lecture. As people are thinking about their pathways and what opportunities higher education provides, coming to share his story seemed like a really good fit.”


Anti-Racism is a focal point for Valley College’s event planning and workshops. Chae is an Associate Professor in the department for the social and behavioral population sciences where his research focused on how racism is biologically embedded. Chae’s goal is to discuss multiple levels of racism and how it compromises health, that students can reduce the spread. Weigand hopes for this to create a sense of community for students and colleges across LACCD, where this can be more involved in the public health department to help improve the health of people and their communities.


“He’s really involved in public health,” said Weigand. “Valley College has a commitment to Anti-racism and the college has a task for us to continue to provide events and workshops to increase recognition on that. Chae was requested to come to campus from the child development department to address his story on how it affects students’ health.”


This is the first year that the open house will be in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Last fall, there was an online open house, with more than 100 people showing up via zoom. Students were able to move from one event to another using the break out sessions on zoom and find out information about the different pathways.


The event also includes funds from the ASU to help pay for Rios’s visit on campus. Book store vouchers of up to $500 will be included in a raffle for students to enter by taking a survey at the end of the event.


Valley’s event serves as a resource for students who struggle with imposter syndrome. The lectures by each of the guest speakers will include their personal experiences and stories that may be relatable to students who are struggling with the same issue.


“If you’re ready to change your life around I’ll be here for you, but you have to do the work,” said Rios, sharing the guidance given to him by one of his high school teachers and mentors, Ms. Russ. “I care for you, but I can’t carry you: something my teacher told me that applies to all students. We care for you, but we're not gonna do the work for you.”

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