RICHARD SANTANA

HOMEBOY TO HARVARD

Richard Santana was born in California and became the third generation of his family to join one of the largest gangs in the state. After several years of drugs, crime and violence on the streets, Senor Chocolate (his gang name) experienced a transformation. He discovered real power—through education. Education provided him with opportunities to achieve personal and social growth.

Through positive leadership experiences and the learning process, he eventually went to college. With a strong will and a genuine commitment to make a difference in this world, he graduated from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, Human Development and Psychology / Risk and Prevention Program in 1995. He credits education, community programs, and teachers with paving the way from a life as Senor Chocolate, the gang member—to Richard Santana, the Harvard graduate.

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Biography

Richard’s accomplishments and affiliations include:

  • Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Masters of Education, Human Development and Psychology / Risk and Prevention.
  • Graduate of California State University, Fresno, BA in Education.
  • Recruiter, academic adviser and counselor for the Upward Bound Program at the University of Pacific in Stockton, California.
  • Director of the improvisational theater group “Teatro de Las Cucarachas.”
  • Chairperson of the Chicano Youth Conference
  • Organizer for The National Coalition to End Barrio Warfare.
  • Director and producer of “Choices”—a drug prevention video.
  • Subject of television profile “Basic Colors.”
  • Assisted with two video concepts accepted by the California Attorney General’s Office and also featuring Richard Santana—“Gangs: The Turning Corner.”
Speaking Programs

THE CHANGE – From Third Generation Gang Member to Harvard Graduate
(Keynote Address And Workshops For Students And Adults)

Senor Chocolate, a tough-talking Latino gangster, arrives on stage with trade-mark baggy pants, shades, trench coat and a red bandanna. Using a thick Spanish accent to make his point, he begins with accounts of his personal gang-life experiences to illustrate gang attitudes and behaviors. He challenges his audience to critically assess their own perceptions. He asks them to acknowledge the fact that violence and hopelessness will continue to affect our communities if apathy persists.

After sharing his gang-life experiences, Senor Chocolate presents The Change; an apt metaphor long to be remembered. While shedding his gang clothing, he explains The Change that occurred in his life—and can occur in anyone’s life. Richard Santana emerges, dressed in a shirt and tie—as a college graduate, educator, counselor, colleague and friend.

Richard offers a unique opportunity to understand our diverse schools and communities. Each program is adjusted to accommodate a wide range of political climates, age groups and audiences. The Change has been presented to audiences of school teachers, school administrators, parents, teenagers, school boards, college students, the District Attorney’s office, and Law Enforcement Officers. The Change can be delivered as a keynote or workshop with emphasis placed in many different areas.

Topics include:

  • Diversity
  • Gangs
  • Peer Pressure
  • Contexts of Violence
  • Prevention Strategies
  • Leadership Skills
  • Motivation
  • The Elements of Personal Change
  • Conflict Management
  • Resilience
  •  and much more!

Richard is always agreeable to conclude his program with a question-and-answer session. For youth audiences, Richard provides teachers with follow-up questions for classroom discussion.

Consider Richard for bilingual / bicultural programs, school assemblies, inservice programs, leadership conferences, convention general sessions and law enforcement agencies. An alternate title for this program is The Winner Within You.

Richard Santana travels from California