National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2002
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National Hispanic American Heritage Month 2002
Marines Make Impression at La Raza Conference
By Staff Sgt. Demetrio J. Espinosa and Staff Sgt. Brenda

MIAMI, Florida — The Marine Corps Recruiting Command augmented by members of the 6th Marine Corps District and Recruiting Station Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., joined members of the National Council of La Raza for their 24th Annual Convention in Miami
held July 19-23, 2002.

The largest gathering of its kind in the United States, NCLR brings together more than15,000 participants from across the country to discuss issues affecting the nation's 35 million Latinos. The five-day event at the Miami Beach Convention Center is the leading source on the current status of Hispanic America, according to an NCLR press release.
Marines make impression at La Raza Conference
Photo by Staff Sergeant Demetrio J. Espinosa
Raul Yzaguirre, President of the National Council of La Raza, shakes hands with Capt. Daniel H. Coleman, Programs Liaison Officer, Manpower, Equal Opportunity Office. Yzaguirre took time to meet Marines at the Marine booth during the NCLR's national conference. (Click on photo for resolution image)

The Marines attended the event in order to enhance the positive image of the Marine Corps by further developing the Marine Corps' relationship with the Nation's premier Hispanic American advocacy organization. To attract influencers and the Corps' target recruiting market, the Marines employed the Hummer, Chin-Up Challenge, the inflatable drill instructor, inflatable obstacle course and an information booth.

"The Marine Corps sponsors the NCLR because of the desire to showcase its commitment to diversity. Through the influential leaders of La Raza, the Marine Corps is able to reach young Hispanics who otherwise would not have the chance to come in contact with a recruiter," said Capt. Cornell Payne, recruiter support officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. Currently there are approximately 50,000 Hispanics serving in the Marine Corps.

The Marines also used their presence at the convention as a venue to inform a difficult to reach market segment about opportunities in the Marine Corps.

"...It (La Raza Conference) provided a chance for the key influencers from across the country to learn more about the opportunities in the Marine Corps. There were a number of parents who came to ask about how they can get their children in the Marine Corps," explained Gunnery Sgt. Jose J. Feliu, Officer Selection Office Assistant from OSO Miami.

Ultimately, the Marine Corps' goal was to influence people to join the Corps. The efforts of all Marines who attended the conference contributed to the Corps' success at the conference.

"It (NCLR conference) was good exposure to the Hispanic community. The Marine Corps' presence let the people distinguish and recognize the Marines from the other military services," said Feliu.