DALLAS -- More than 400 students from high schools across South Dallas filed into Paul Quinn College Wednesday and saw familiar faces, mentors who looked like them.
"Hearing lessons is one thing, but seeing it makes me think I can do that," said Elia Espinosa, a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School in the Dallas Independent School District.
Espinosa liked the message from Dallas' business, education and sports leaders who donated their time to talk to students about succeeding in life at the United Way's College and Career Fair, but she especially liked how diverse the panel was.
"It is important," Espinosa said. "I see it and know I can do those thing."
The panel was made up of five men and women from different backgrounds, races and career fields. Diane Crawford has traveled the world while rising in the ranks at Celanese Corporation over the last 25 years. She now serves as director of commercial operations.
"I don't think this message is relegated to a side of town," Crawford said. "It's about hard work and believing in yourself and that applies to everyone."
Hector Diaz, a sophomore at Thomas Jefferson agrees but says it's important for young people to see people of different background in powerful positions. He says seeing Hispanic men succeeding creates a blueprint for younger people. Dias pointed to Michael Hinojosa, the Dallas ISD superintendent, as a positive example for younger men.
"It's good to see that template," he said. "Yeah it just makes me think things are possible. It's not about money; it's all about knowledge."
Diaz has lofty goals. He says he's determined to be the first Hispanic President of the United States, serving as an example for other young men to dream big.
"I look at these faces and I see determination," Crawford said. "That will take these young people as far as they need to go."
Crawford says she was impressed by the questions and the sincerity of the students at today's event and looks forward to seeing the lives they create down the line.