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Keynote Speaker Danny Trejo Enthralls Mission College Graduates PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 12 June 2014 01:38

“Machete” had a message for the graduating students at Mission College: even he could be scared.

Actor Danny Trejo, star of television and film most notably the “Machete” movies of 2010 and 2013 delivered the commencement keynote address for the graduates on Tuesday, June 10. He used his talk to entertain and enlighten his audience, drawing from his own life experiences.

And what a life. Trejo, 70, spent time in juvenile offender’s camps and six California prisons from 1959 to 1969, becoming a lightweight and welterweight prison champion at San Quentin. He also overcame drug addition, becoming a drug counselor upon his release. In the 1980s, he got into acting, beginning with the film “Runaway Train,” and going on to accumulate more than 250 television and film roles in his career.

Addressing the 550 graduates in the quad area of the Sylmar campus, Trejo had prepared remarks for his keynote speech. But when he finished reading them, he spoke from the heart. “That’s when he really connected with the students,” said Joe Ramirez, vice president of student affairs at Mission College.

Looking out at the graduates, Trejo said “‘Machete’ doesn’t get intimidated by anything. But looking out at all of you scares me. Because of all of your awesomeness (sic) and all that you will all achieve.”

Ramirez said afterward that “one of the faculty members attending told me [Trejo] really connected with the students, and it was so good that he was able to share his experiences and provide them with a message of service to others.”

On Trejo's Facebook page, Mission College students thanked him for coming to their graduation. Some of them affectionately called him “Profe Machete.”

“What a great honor,” wrote Illiana Garza-Cervantes. “I am glad you rose to the occasion, and agreed. inspired many of your audience. Your path in life has been a varied one and young people can only benefit from your life experience. Congratulations!”

“Machete killed the graduation ceremony,” wrote Alwyn Dippenaar. “You are a gift to the Hispanic Americans. Good job, Mr. Trejo,” added Javier Carabez.

University officials estimated more than 2,700 graduates, faculty, family and friends attended the commencement ceremony.

“Machete,” who is from Pacoima, has stayed close to the Northeast Valley and has often volunteered his time and appeared at community events. There are discussions underway for his involvement in creating a continuation school for at-risk youth interested in the entertainment field.