John Quiñones, host of the ABC show “What Would You Do?” spoke to MU students about his upbringing as a Mexican American on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
His lecture in Jesse Auditorium was a part of the Delta Gamma Foundation Lectureship in Values & Ethics. Quiñones talked about his career, from being a young migrant worker in San Antonio to his first Emmy.
He described how his background as a minority made him uniquely qualified to empathize with the subjects on his show.
“I find the people who stand up for others have often experienced discrimination themselves,” Quiñones said.
He grew up with a thick Mexican accent which he worked day and night to dull. Even after all that hard work, Quiñones still couldn’t get a job where he really wanted one: in broadcast journalism.
“They judged me by the color of my skin,” Quiñones said.
Quiñones persisted under the guidance of his mother who told him, “all that matters is what's in your corazón.”
It wasn’t until Quiñones received an Ivy League education that he was finally able to land a job, where he covered the plight of immigrants crossing the border.
The story of the underdog who found success helping others was compelling to MU students. A majority of the seats in Jesse were filled with students, some of whom grew up watching “What Would You Do?”
Sarah Spencer, a freshman at MU, came with a friend to the lecture and said she enjoyed the talk.
“I watched him growing up and it was great to see him in real life and see that the situations aren’t just behind the screen,” Spencer said.
Fellow freshman Larissa Ciafullo said she has been watching “What Would You Do?” for five years and described the impact the show has had on her.
“Watching the scenarios made me get more confident and think maybe I should stand up for stuff,” Ciafullo said.
Quiñones ended his lecture with the story of a homeless woman he was able to help through his show. She had helped a passed-out homeless man when no one else would. He described her motivations the same way his mother described his.
“It came from her corazón,” Quiñones finished.
Edited by Janae McKenzie | firstname.lastname@example.org