Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Adnoris Torres, Strong Beginnings-Healthy Start
At the age of nine, Adnoris “Bo” Torres migrated from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, to Battle Creek, Michigan, with his family recalling it as an event that would mold him for years to come.
Torres, a project supervisor at Strong Beginnings-Healthy Start and member of The Education Trust-Midwest’s Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, says he not only experienced Michigan’s noteworthy seasonal changes for the first time when he moved to the state but also the warmth that came from having a community of educators who cared about individuals, families and students’ educational success.
“As I traversed elementary, middle, and high school (proud Battle Creek Central Bearcat, “Pride of the State”), I realized that Battle Creek was special, that what I was experiencing there was special,” Torres said.
Torres shared about his family maintaining their culture at time when top radio hits didn’t include Latino representation or when speaking Spanish wasn’t viewed as a strength but rather a deficit.
“I am a student of color, an ESL student, a student that has been placed in positions of otherization,” Torres explained. I think of the time spent in schools learning English, learning culture, not knowing where I, we, were with regard to our surroundings, how we fit in, or if we would fit in.”
Torres later attended Michigan State University and Wayne State University, studying areas of political science and Chicano Latino histories and studies, learning what it meant to be a part of this county in relation to socioeconomic, racial, and cultural realities.
“I learned that not only does the academic side of the collegiate experience support your growth, but also those around you.” For Torres, those included his extended family in a fraternity (proud and life-long member of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Inc.), professors and mentors — “those that you converse and learn from help you grow just as much, if not more.”
Torres explains that one of the essential ways advocates can take action now is to – simply put – be there.
“Working with fathers in my daily life through the Strong Fathers/Padres Fuerte project of Strong Beginnings-Healthy Start, I see what the concept of presence creates for developing childrens’ self-esteem for their capacity to learn and their overall development,” Torres said. “Being there for communities that are struggling with poverty, systemic issues, with their daily lives. Being there for communities that do not see culture as an asset and need to be reminded of what a strong asset culture brings to the community. Being there to advocate for policies that don’t further otherize community members. Being present in these instances is what we can do as a community, being there for the hard conversations, being there for each other as we all transition to a more diverse and challenging world but being there and asking how we can come together for positive change.”
Torres notes that The Education Trust-Midwest’s connection to many communities made him want to engage further and dive deeper into the “how” of community change and educational achievement.
“As we have come together under the umbrella of the Michigan Partnership for Equity and Opportunity, we have further pushed and gained ground for educational gains. This work is something that I look forward to with every meeting every month. We are making a difference, and it is changing the lives of the communities we serve,” explained Torres.
“This is why I do what I do, what we do, for our students. So that regardless of status, education level of parents, situatedness, culture, or language, our students can see themselves in someone that was and is them.”