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Quiñones to be Keynote Speaker at Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit

John QuinonesEmmy Award-winning news correspondent John Quiñones will deliver the keynote address for Ferris State University’s 15th annual Foundation for Excellence Benefit on Friday, Nov. 1 at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.

Quiñones, co-anchor of ABC news magazine “Primetime” and host of the network’s popular TV series “What Would You Do?,” will discuss the role education played in his success. Quiñones grew up in a poor family of migrant workers to become ABC’s first Latino correspondent and a seven-time Emmy Award winner.

He shares his story to encourage others to pursue their dreams regardless of socioeconomic barriers.

“We are excited to have John Quiñones as our keynote speaker and look forward to his insight into today’s news and how Ferris can help to create graduates who can make a difference in the world,” said Kevin Cross, chair of The Ferris Foundation Board of Directors.

The Foundation is celebrating the 15th anniversary of the benefit, which supports The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Scholarship Program and the Exceptional Merit Grant awards for faculty and staff. The event showcases the ways the university is impacting lives and strengthening Michigan’s future through education and outreach.

“Wow, times flies by so quickly,” Cross said. “It seems like just yesterday that a small group of Ferris supporters had a dinner party at Egypt Valley Country Club (in Ada) to raise money for The Ferris Foundation. That was 15 years ago. Last year, more than 500 people attended the benefit at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.

“The Foundation is critical to support scholarships for students at a time when debt is a major issue.”

“Given the Opportunity, ‘What Would You Do?’” is the theme of the 2013 event, which will highlight the Foundation’s student scholarship winners and merit grant recipients whose work has significant educational and outreach potential.

Quiñones’ work for “What Would You Do?” captures the way people react when confronted with dilemmas that compel them to either take action or walk away. After graduating from high school, Quiñones decided to pursue higher education and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.

Columbia awarded him its 2010 Outstanding Alumni Award and named his coverage of the Congo’s virgin rainforest one of the 50 greatest stories by a graduate in the last 100 years. He also won an Emmy for that work.

“Bringing such an accomplished individual, who happens to be Latino, speaks to the Foundation’s intentionality to expose the Ferris community to success stories, stories on the importance of pursuing higher education and the importance of breaking stereotypes,” said Carlos Sanchez, director of Ferris’ Latino Business and Economic Development Center. “I believe the Ferris community and the local Latino community will enjoy listening to Mr. Quinones’ story.”

During his nearly 30-year tenure with ABC, Quiñones has reported on a wide range of stories from all over the world. He was one of the few American journalists who reported from Panama City during the U.S. invasion in December 1989, and, during the ’80s, he spent nearly a decade in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, reporting for “World News Tonight.”

Quiñones, the first of 2,000 journalists who covered the 2010 Chilean Mining Disaster to get an exclusive interview with one of the survivors, has won numerous accolades for his reporting. In 2005, the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibit, “Our Journeys/Our Stories: Portraits of Latino Achievement,” named Quiñones as one of the 25 most prominent Latinos in the U.S.

The black-tie-optional event will begin with cocktails and a VIP reception for sponsors with Quiñones at 5:30 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by the program at 8 p.m.

Wolverine Power Marketing Cooperative (WPMC) is the title sponsor of the 2013 Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit. WPMC, headquartered in Cadillac, is an Alternative Electric Supplier licensed by the Michigan Public Service Commission to participate in the state’s electric choice market. Ferris has been a member since 2003. 

The Foundation is in its 15th year of providing scholarship assistance to many students who might not otherwise have access to a Ferris education in addition to providing financial support for faculty study, exploration and service.