Marcelino Quiñonez: A Hispanic Leader’s Ongoing Journey of Nurturing Two Cultures

By admin October 23, 2013 16:58

HeadshotBy: Cindy G. Castillo

Brought to California from Durango, Mexico when he was just 5 years old, Marcelino Quiñonez now teaches a life-time of traditions and culture he learned from his mother, onto his 4-year- old princess, Mia Amor.

“I want my daughter to climb stars, and more than anything I want her to feel like she’s the best in the world, because she is.” Quiñonez said.

Mia does not speak Spanish entirely, so Quinonez is devoted to teaching Mia the importance of speaking both English and Spanish, and the beauty of adapting to two cultures. He can clearly relate to the challenges of learning something foreign at such a young age by recalling his own childhood.

“The first parent teacher conference that I had I got in trouble because the teacher told my mom that I wasn’t paying attention whenever she’d speak English.” Quinonez said.

It was then that his mom explained to him why it was important for him to learn the language, and made a deal with him that he would learn one new English word every single day. He did just as he promised, and that is what has developed into the English he speaks now.

“My mom’s always been a great educator…she first of all explained to me why it was important, then she gave me something that I could manage, and she made sure every single day that I was following her instructions.” he said.

He inherited his mother’s passion in education, and has taught high school language for 4 years, conducts an Introduction to Acting class at ASU, and is also involved with the Roosevelt School District Governing Board. His focus is working with parents so that students receive the motivation necessary to go to school and earn an education.

“Like with every single parent, you want your kid to do better than you did.” Quiñonez said.

Without a doubt his star pupil, the main reason to his devotion to education, is his daughter Mia. More than anything, he wants Mia to learn Spanish. Challenges are inevitable, as Quiñonez recalls a day about a year ago, when Mia said to him that she did not want to speak Spanish.

“It hurt me, but it also made me think how I always speak to her in English, so I have to tell myself, ‘Marcelino, you have to do a better job at speaking to your daughter in Spanish because you don’t want her to grow up this way.’”

Mia goes to school and doesn’t speak Spanish nor does she hear it. He explains how it is important to him for Mia to learn the language so that his mom can have a connection to her, since Quiñonez’ mom does not speak English. He compliments his daughter’s Spanish as much as he can, so that she will not feel insecure when practicing. Mia’s mother, Ana Contreras, also contributes to adding the Mexican culture to Mia’s life.

“Ana does a wonderful job of instilling the culture in our daughter. The tortillas, the frijoles, and all of those things she does a great job with Mia.” Quiñonez said.

Quiñonez has taken everything he has learned from his mother and filling Mia’s life with new traditions and knowledge from the Mexican culture. He is backed by a passion for education, and by instilling these qualities in Mia, he will be able to keep the Mexican roots in his family for generations to come.

“I want my daughter to be the most self-confident woman in the world. I want her to be creative, and I want her to be intelligent. “Quinonez said.

Quinonez is being honored by Cox Arizona as a Hispanic Leader during Hispanic Heritage Month for his extensive social and educational contributions. In the year 2008, he was recipient of the 2008 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Award and The New Times Magazine’s Big Brain Award for his active arts participation in the community.

“My greatest goal is for my daughter to grow up and one day point at me and say, ‘That man there, that’s my dad.’ That’s why I do what I do.’” 

By admin October 23, 2013 16:58

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