Truth at Ten

As a co-anchor on Channel 8 and one of the most highly visible Hispanic women in Dallas, Gloria Campos frequently gives motivational talks at schools, describing how she became successful though her grandmother was a poor, illiterate farmworker in South Texas. But during a visit to a Mesquite middle school, she decided to tell the kids about something she had rever talked about before, even to her husband.

Campos, who takes her position as a role model seriously, was the speaker for a program that featured uniformed Mesquite police officers slam-dunking basketballs, along with cops acting out skits about drug use and gangs. Though the skits were well done, Campos saw the kids laughing at them. “I thought, ’I gotta hit them with something real,’” she says.

So Campos told the group of about 300-400 young people how a 13-year-old girl was arrested for shoplifting a T-shirt from a dime store, how her parents were called, how deeply hurt they were. Only at the end of her story did Campos reveal that the town was her home town of Harlingen-and that the girl was she. “There was silence from the kids,” says Sgt. Gary Westphal, one of the Mesquite officers who organized the program. “You could tell they were

affected.” So was the anchorwoman, who has; kept a stiff upper lip while reporting numerous tragic stories. “Afterwards, I was crying,” says Campos. “I had never told anybody.” Campos could have stuck to her usual motivational speech. But she wanted to go beyond that. “It occurred to me that they were about the same age as I was at the time,” she says. “You think you know everything. So many kids think the five-finger discount is cool. I wanted them to see what happens when you don’t think about consequences. It was a lifechanging experience. I never took anything again-not even a candy bar.” She hopes the kids who heard her will learn the same lesson.

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