Celestino M. Beltran
Founding Member, Hispanic Youth Foundation of Northern Virginia, 1997
Country of origin (or family’s country or origin):
USA Monterey Park, CA
- US Army Corps of Engineers
- Mt. San Antonio Community College
- Loyola Marymount University
B.S. Civil Engineering
- University of Southern California
Graduate Urban Planning/ Economics coursework
US Army Corp of Engineers
Active Duty (1969 to 1972)
Subsidiary Community Research Company (1972 – 1980) Community Research Group
The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) (non-profit economic development company)
- CEO and Chairman
Comprehensive Technologies International, Inc. (1980 to 2008) federal government contractor with $330 million in successfully completed contracts
Sold in 2008
Retired, Researcher/writer, “How to use the subconscious mind to make your dreams come true”
Who inspired me?
I grew up in a poor neighborhood where education was not a priority. I was able to hide the fact I could not read until I took an entrance exam at a local Catholic High School as a rising freshman. I was a functional illiterate at the age of 14. The new Catholic High School was desperate for students, so it admitted me if I would take a remedial reading class in summer school. I was blown away to learn there was such a thing as remedial reading classes. Since I had not learned to read by 14, I simply thought I was too old to learn to read. I was thrilled!
Mr. Smith, an ex-Marine who fought in the Korean War, was the very stern disciplinarian who became my remedial reading teacher at El Monte High School. I arrived at his class the summer of 1959 uncertain about my future, but I knew in my heart I had been given a unique opportunity to learn to read. At first, the class of illiterates was rebellious and undisciplined, but Mr. Smith was persistent and wise. He knew we were all lost and frightened because we could not read. He used this fear to motivate us to learn. He read us stories about people who had overcome all odds, like Helen Keller. These stories were extremely effective in showing the class the importance of learning to read. Ultimately, Mr. Smith’s persistent discipline and encouragement won over the class. He taught us to read, but more importantly, he taught us to love books. Mr. Smith changed my life.
Why am I involved with the HYF of Northern Virginia?
When I was growing up, I couldn’t imagine someone like me being a teacher or an engineer. Because of my experience, I know how important role models are for all our youth.