San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, columnist will speak at UC Merced summit

04/01/2014 7:40 PM

04/02/2014 3:31 PM

Nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro will stop by UC Merced on Friday to serve as guest speakers during the university’s first Opportunity in Action Summit.

The summit will be hosted by UC Merced’s student-run organization, College Republicans, and funded by Associated Students of the University of California, Merced. According to College Republicans, the purpose of Opportunity in Action is to provide valuable insight, build new relationships and foster a community of action.

The event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Lakireddy Auditorium.

Navarrette, who grew up in the San Joaquin Valley is a regular contributor on and is the author of “A Darker Shade of Crimson,” in which he chronicles his journey from his working-class beginnings to Harvard.

From a similar background, Castro, who was first elected as mayor of San Antonio in 2009, gained national attention when he became the first Latino to deliver the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.

During the summit, Navarrette will interview Castro on trending issues such as health care, job creation, immigration and economic development, and Castro will get to ask Navarrette about his journalism career.

The idea of bringing the two men to Merced came from College Republicans’ External Vice President Martin Chavez.

Chavez met Navarrette a few years back during his participation in the Ivy League Project, a networking program started with the help of Navarrette, in which select students from across the country travel to the East Coast to visit Ivy League universities. Chavez learned about Castro’s work through Navarrette.

“We wanted to bring someone who students would enjoy hearing, and someone they might be able to relate to,” said Chavez. “Castro is a young, charismatic mayor who will most likely move up in his career, so I think it’s great for students to get the opportunity to hear these top-tier speakers.”

Baltazar Cornejo, a UC Merced student and member of College Republicans, said the speakers will also share bits of their personal lives in an effort to relate to the community and inspire students.

“(Castro and Navarrette) are people who come from humble beginnings, like many of the people in the Central Valley,” Cornejo said. “So it’s a good for students and the community to come out and hear their stories.”

The event is free for UC Merced students and $40 for all others. Tickets can be purchased at

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