CoolSpeak comes to Alisal

CoolSpeaker Carlos Ojeda Jr. interacts with his audience by using humor during his speech. He says, “I am just like the students, a regular guy who plays video games and is chill. This is what allows me to have a connection with the students.”


Picture taken by Zaira Hernandez

Nowadays, if a teenager is asked about college and life after high school, they do not seem all that enthusiastic, in fact, they seem stressed and think about financial situations, grades, tests, and career paths. But is there a way to inspire and excite students when it comes to learning about education and all that it comes with?

The answer is a definite yes. CoolSpeak get students to laugh when speaking about school and the future, which isn’t easy to do. CoolSpeak is a youth engagement company which motivates students to continue their education by delivering unique speakers, programs, events, books, and products designed to inspire middle school, high school, and college students.

The founding team is made up of seven individuals – Joey Negron, Teri Lomax, Gilfredo Peña, Justin Colon, Joselyn Martinez, Alicia Navarro, and Lina Traslaviña Stover – who all have a passion for helping youth achieve their goals. There are a total of sixteen speakers, known as “CoolSpeakers”: Carlos Ojeda Jr., April Hernandez Castillo, Joe Johnson, Ernesto Mejia, Natasha Carrizosa, Joaquin Zihuatanejo, Lilyan Prado Carrillo, Zach Gowen, Juan Cangas, Terri Lomax, Timothy Stafford, Lamarr Womble, Joey Negron, Derek Felton, Lina Traslaviña Stover, and Mena Brados. The speakers came together as a team by watching each other in videos, meeting while on the road, surrounding themselves with successful people, and by simply thinking they are cool people. “It’s all about admiring someone and saying, ‘Hey, you’re cool! Would you like to work together?’” Carlos Ojeda, CEO of CoolSpeak, says.

CoolSpeakers range from speaking on so many topics, so it is not only motivating youth as students but as people. When students are educated and are open to new things, they are more likely to succeed in all aspects of life. The topics students get to learn about revolve around athletics, self-image, self-care, college and career readiness, drug and alcohol prevention, cultural diversity, empowerment, goal setting, leadership, and health awareness. “These students are full of potential,” Adrian Calderon, community outreach manager, says, “It is only a matter of opening the right doors for them.”

Ojeda focuses on teaching students that their voice is their power. He decided to take part in the program to travel, create an army of educational leaders, meet great people, and to speak to and inspire millions. He has received emotional reactions from his audience when giving his speech about going through a lot as a kid, losing people close to him, and having a rough past overall. He now has some of the students he spoke to work with him, he teaches kids to not make the same mistakes he did, and he says the money came later, his dedication to making a change came first. “My words are their words,” he says, “I am just like the students, a regular guy who plays video games and is chill. This is what allows me to have a connection with the students.”

Partnership cultivator, Ernesto Mejia, believes CoolSpeak is an amazing example of how students should be guided to take the right steps into their future. When asked why he chose to work with students he replied with, “I want students to focus on their studies, on getting scholarships, and I want to be able to truly help their families.” Mejia says they help students succeed by providing resources such as scholarship links, financial aid help, and college board links.

It’s not all about thousands of dollars and important resources though, even a simple gesture can have a life lasting impact on someone. Abraham Montano, a senior, received $100 from Ojeda during the presentation as an encouragement to continue his studies and be thankful for his family’s support. “I was shocked when I received the money, it is not every day that someone gives you $100,” he says. “My mom’s reaction was amazing, she was so excited and reminded me that good things happen to those who are good.” Montano was thankful he had the opportunity to be present in this presentation, “Carlos is a very nice guy, I felt inspired. This was one of the few times I was truly interested in a presentation. It’s a loss for whoever doesn’t appreciate these amazing opportunities and mentors.”

Just like Ojeda and Mejia, Calderon is also a great public speaker who focuses on making our community a better and more successful place. “The students are not aware of how prepared they are to plan their future. The goal is to open up their eyes and ears to everything that is around them and to motivate them,” he says. His desire to watch students succeed and guide them through their life reminds him of the things he learned from his siblings to be successful. This goes to show how important it is for people to be leaders, it proves that leaders create leaders.

Calderon’s example ties into the goal of CoolSpeak. These students, the ones who listen to these role models speak, experience the feeling of wanting to do better for themselves and change their negative ways while continuing their positive ones. If a student feels a bit of inspiration, just a bit, while hearing a speaker, they will carry that feeling with them for as long as they need to remember it, which will take them a long way.

Click to watch a video on what CoolSpeak is all about: