Celebrity John Quiñones Encourages Minority Students to Succeed Despite Prejudice


Photo by Emma Fischer

John Quiñones visited the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity for a Q&A with students from the Association of Black Collegians, the Student Organization of Latinos, the African Student Association, and the Muleskinner staff.

  On Wednesday, Feb. 23, John Quiñones, reporter and host of the TV show “What Would You Do?” came to visit the University of Central Missouri. While his seminar that evening was open to the public, he had a private Q&A session in the Center for Multiculturalism and Inclusivity. 

  Lover Chancler, director of the Center of Multiculturalism and Inclusivity and assistant professor of child and family development program, invited Quiñones in collaboration with the Provost Office.

  “The impact was immeasurable,” Chancler said. “He was so personable and the experiences he shared with our Black and Latino/Latina students helped them see hard does not mean impossible.”

  During the Q&A session, Quiñones talked about his struggles to be treated as an equal in the news industry. 

  “If the system shoots you down, and you stay down and you don’t get up and you don’t try to prove to them that you’re worthy, then they win, right?” Quiñones said. “Is it fair? No. It’s not fair. I like to remind people that Chris Cuomo was an anchor with me at primetime live before he went to CNN. He and I had the same job when I got there. … His father was the governor of the State of New York.’ My father was a janitor. I was so proud of that.”

If the system shoots you down, and you stay down and you don’t get up and you don’t try to prove to them that you’re worthy, then they win, right?

— John Quiñones

  Genesis Peck, a sophomore and kinesiology major with an emphasis in pre physical therapy, attended the Q&A session. Peck said she connected to the struggles Quiñones faced while in college because of stereotypes regarding her background. 

  “Being able to get the college experience, especially to have someone like him come out, is a privilege,” Peck said.

  Tylan Carter, a freshman digital media production major, also attended the Q&A session. 

  “Being at this event for me was kind of like a blast from the past because I watched John Quiñones growing up,” Carter said.

  Carter said that seeing Quiñones was really great and that he related to Quiñones’ message when he talked about the struggles he faced as a person of color.

  “Being a minority is hard, especially in college, because there’s this cognitive thought about you, as a minority, are here to have fun or you’re not going to complete it,” Carter said. “A lot of minority families — we come from first generation college students, or our parents didn’t even graduate college at all. So with that being said, there’s a lot of pressure on us.”

  Later on Wednesday, Quiñones spoke at a seminar open to the public. 

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  • Quiñones spoke at Nahm Auditorium, which was packed with students, staff and Warrensburg community members.

    Photo by Emma Fischer

  Sophomore psychology major Jonathan Hernandez was very excited to hear Quiñones speak at the university. Hernandez said he has been inspired by Quiñones to go above and beyond in his life. He related to the struggles that Quiñones faced growing up. Henandez came from a poor and dangerous neighborhood, his mother working at McDonalds sweeping parking lots. 

  “My parents — both of them came from Mexico, not speaking English at all,” Hernandez said. “When he started talking about how he still succeeded no matter the struggles he faced as, not an immigrant, but as just a Hispanic person, he always tied this back to his mom; His mom would always push him, his mom would always encourage him … My mom is exactly the same way … All that stuff really hit home.”