Luis Valdez

Chicano playwright Luis Valdez, pictured here in 2008, will be the featured speaker at an event sponsored by Orange Coast College's CLEEO program on April 21. 

Orange Coast College students have the opportunity to discover the journey of one of the most successful Chicano playwrights, film directors, and National Medal of Arts Award recipients, Luis Valdez, at the upcoming virtual Counseling Latinos for Equity and Engagement (CLEEO) summit on April 21. 

Founded by OCC counselor Eric Cuellar, CLEEO is supported by the Multicultural Center Home and funded by OCC's Student Equity. The CLEEO Project at OCC provides counseling for Latin American students to prepare for a future in higher education. It is specifically designed to engage students toward academic major preparation by adequately providing resources and support to complete their degree. In addition, it provides an opportunity in understanding the transfer process to universities and preparation for postgraduate and professional schools.  

Counseling practices are used to help students understand and appreciate their background and how to apply it to today’s educational realm. CLEEO stands by its ideology, “create movement toward an educational pathway,” that inspires students to get to their ultimate educational goals. 

“CLEEO Project has a commitment to promote Latin@s access and success in higher education in an equitable and culturally supportive environment,” Cuellar said in an email, “The CLEEO Project’s focus is on developing an educational pathway for college students with an emphasis on the successful development of life skills and the attainment of Associate and Bachelor degrees and beyond toward a Post-Graduate education.” 

CLEEO’s hall of fame includes the legendary honorary inaugurator, Dolares Huerta, an American labor leader and civil rights activist. Her activism alongside Cesar Chavez has earned her the presidential medal of freedom and the Eleanor Roosevelt human rights award. Huerta’s feature in CLEEO was only the firsts of many icons.  

Presentations by cultivated Chicano and Latino role models are among this program's most popular features. 

Luis Valdez is considered to be the father of Chicano Film and theater. He is notorious for his play Zoot Suit and his film La Bamba (1987), and creating El Teatro Campesino for the Civil Rights movement. Not only was he an outstanding part of the Chicano Movement, but he paved the way for Chicanos in theatre and arts.

From organizing puppet shows in his garage, to joining the speech and drama department in high school, Valdez always had an interest in theater and arts throughout his life. On his journey to a higher education, he started to become recognized more and more with the success of his self written plays and his service to the Latin community. 

As CLEEO coordinator, Cuellar chose Luis Valdez for this upcoming CLEEO summit because of his national achievements. 

Cuellar personally resonates with Valdez’s journey that could also inspire more of the Chicano community. 

“Mr. Luis Valdez is a role model for me. His life journey is inspirational and his perseverance  serves as a testament that the American Dream can be achieved,” Cuellar said. “During the Civil Rights Movement, Mr. Valdez, alongside Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez, provided a voice that represented the narrative of the Chicana/o community at that important moment in history. Their efforts provided an opportunity for our community members to have access to a higher education.” 

Luis Valdez’s incorporation into the Latino community was essential to his creative work. Upon enlisting in Cesar Chavez’s mission of organizing farm workers into a union, he gained inspiration and combined both students and farm workers to form El Teatro Campesino. Furthermore, this play educated both farm workers and the public about their rights. With further momentum, Valdez paved the way for the Latino community using his artistic talents.   

This event will be held on April 21 from 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. live on Zoom hosted by Eric Cuellar. Contact: ecuellar@occ.cccd.edu to RSVP for the event.

For more information on CLEEO, visit The Vision of the CLEEO Project.  

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