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'State of Hispanics' event held at Folsom Lake College for Hispanic Heritage Month

The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce holds the event every year to recognize the month.

FOLSOM, Calif. — Friday marks the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate the countless contributions of Hispanic and Latino people to our culture and society.

Dozens of people did that in Folsom Friday morning by attending the ‘State of Hispanics’ event at Folsom Lake College. The Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce holds the event every year to recognize the month.

“For me, I’m Latino every day, so every day is a celebration but during this time we get to amplify it,” said Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce CEO Cathy Rodriguez Aguirre.

The chamber presented the 2023 Regional Hispanic Economic Report during the event. It highlights some of the challenges and opportunities Hispanic people face in the greater Sacramento region like employment, health and education.

“We are well represented in the K-12 system, but not in higher education,” said Dr. Heidy Sarabia, an associate professor in Sacramento State University’s sociology department.

Dr. Art Pimentel in the president of Folsom Lake College and says education opens doors to opportunities. He joined a panel at the event to speak about ways to advance educational equity for all.

“Putting equity at the forefront and making sure that every single student feels like they belong in our institution, regardless of their background,” said Pimentel.

And for the first time, three of the four presidents in the Los Rios Community College District are of Hispanic descent. Pimentel is proud to be one of them.

“I think it says a lot about the priorities of our district to make sure that our leadership is reflective of the students and student body that we're serving,” he said.

He grew up in Woodland and came from humble beginnings. He grew up in a one-bedroom trailer, and he and his brothers slept in the living room.

“My parents, being farmworkers, they worked 12-14 hours a day. They always instilled in us the importance of education,” he said.

Determined to succeed, he earned a bachelor's and master’s degree from Sacramento State, and his doctorate in education at UC Davis. He’s focused on giving back as president of Folsom Lake College.

“Making sure that we're working with our business communities, community leaders, our educational partners, our K-12 partners, to make sure that we are strengthening that pipeline,” said Pimentel.

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