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Members of the Hispanic Mexican Ballet Perform at the Cesar E. Chavez Luncheon at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center April 13 Members of the Hispanic Mexican Ballet Perform at the Cesar E. Chavez Luncheon at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center April 13

Luncheon Honors Chavez, Supports Students

SDSU celebrates the life of Cesar E. Chavez and recognizes individuals striving to follow in those footsteps.
By Glenn S. Robertson

It was a powerful remembrance of a man who devoted much of his life to the benefit of others at the 10th annual Cesar E. Chavez Luncheon, April 13, at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.

The event, highlighted by keynote speaker Maria de la Luz Reyes, celebrated the legacy and achievements of Chavez – a legacy that continues by supporting students through scholarships.

It was also noted that SDSU’s recent distinction as a Hispanic-serving institution was an achievement that would likely have brought great pride to Chavez.

Chavez and education

De la Luz Reyes, a professor emerita of Education at the University of Colorado, Boulder, remarked on the importance that Chavez placed on education and linked that importance to the value of providing scholarships to students.

"When he was organizing people for the movement, he would still dissuade students from joining if it meant dropping out school,” said De la Luz Reyes.  “He realized how important it would be for the Chicano community to see Latinos succeed and graduate from college.”

Sal si puedes to Si se puede

Early in her address, De la Luz Reyes related what drove Chavez to strive for equality for migrant workers, drawing on his experience living in a San Jose barrio.  The neighborhood was derisively called Sal si puedes — escape if you can.

“The people there had two options,” she said. “They could give up all hope of a better life or they could dare to throw off the shackles of the past.”  

It was from there that he moved from “escape if you can” toward what would become an empowering slogan, she said.  Si, se puede — “Yes, we can.”  He learned to overcome poverty by drawing strength from the despair of his experiences and helped to draw others from it.


The Cesar E. Chavez Scholarship is one example of how SDSU is creating opportunities and enabling dreams for the next generation of leaders and innovators, a key initiative of The Campaign for SDSU. Learn more about how you can help fuel students’ potential.

 Awards and scholarships

The luncheon, with more than 220 people in attendance, also recognized faculty and staff members with the SDSU Cesar E. Chavez Lifetime Service Award.

This year, Armando Rodriguez, SDSU alumnus of the Year in 1979 and long-time education and community reformer, was recognized for his years of work in California.

Additionally, Alexa Barraza, Omar Espinosa, Mercedes Quintana and Alicia Razo were recognized as winners of the Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Scholarship.

“For me, this is a huge honor,” said Razo, a biology major. “My whole family worked in the fields, so winning this makes me feel like I am representing them, in a way.”

All proceeds from this year's luncheon go to the Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Scholarship Fund.

Chavez Luncheon
Photos from the Cesar E. Chavez Luncheon