Speaker touts education as key to success

PHOTO BY NICOLE WALBY Monica Lozano, president and CEO of the College Futures Foundation, speaks to Heidelberg University students, staff and community members Thursday during the university’s Patricia Adams Lecture Series.

Education is the key to achieving the American dream, according to the keynote speaker at the Heidelberg University Patricia Adams Lecture Series.

Monica Lozano, president and CEO of the College Futures Foundation, was the featured speaker Thursday night for the eighth year of the series.

She delivered her address, “My American Story: A Family, A Business, A Dream.”

Lozano is co-founder and chair of the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society program. In 1985, she joined La Opinion, the country’s leading Spanish-language daily newspaper, becoming publisher and CEO in 2004. In 2010, Lozano became chairman and CEO of the parent company. She stepped down in 2016.

The newspaper was started by her grandfather when he was in his 20s. He immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. He, his four sisters and their mother settled in San Antonio, Texas.

Lozano said her greatest inspiration was her grandfather, who died before she was born.

“His story inspires me and I carry it with me every day,” she said. “He was a man of tremendous courage and conviction.”

Lozano said her grandfather initially took odd jobs, earning enough money to start a bookstore and then the newspaper.

“He used the power of the newspaper to make a difference in the Mexican community,” she said. “He used this power to speak up and defend and elevate the contributions of the community at that time.”

Lozano said he traveled to the heart of Mexico and discovered there were no schools. Returning to San Antonio, he wrote many editorials about the importance of schools, she said.

Soon, readers began to send in money. After eight months, $36,000 had been donated and two schools were built in Mexico, one for girls and one for boys.

“He knew then what to do by using the power of the newspaper to bring people together around a social cause,” she said.

Lozano said that is how those who established Heidelberg in 1850 must have felt.

“Our roots, our traditions and our generations are all across this country,” she said. “My grandfather knew how important it was to invest in education and so did the founders of Heidelberg.”

Lozano is the third generation to join her family’s legacy. Through the years, she said the paper has chronicled American life.

The paper also has had to adapt to the changing environment and consumer habits, she said.

“We needed to ensure we were relevant and adapting to the modern age,” she said.

The core of the paper’s existence is high-quality content and recognizing the need to be “of service” to the community, not just in the business of selling papers or providing a service, Lozano said.

“We needed to understand the relationships of those we dealt with every day and how important we were to them,” she said.

Lozano said she believes in the American dream.

“This is the only place on the planet it can happen,” she said. “I know the American dream feels out of reach, but it has come true for our family and I’ve seen it in the lives we touched.

“It is within reach. It may not be easy and it will take hard work. The American dream is worth fighting for.”

Lozano said the American dream is not just about privileged people becoming more so, but is “about lifting all boats and making sure the tide rises for everyone.”

Lozano said the key is education.

“My grandfather understood that and here at Heidelberg, you need to reaffirm that education is the key to reaching the American dream,” she said. “The American dream is alive today and we need to keep it alive for tomorrow. That is what we are as a country.”

The Patricia Adams Lecture Series will return in the fall with Kelli Masters, founder of KMM Sports and an attorney with the law firm of Fellers, Snider, Blankenship, Bailey & Tippers, P.C.