With this year’s show right around the corner, we’re down to our last cast spotlight. We asked Oscar Mireles a few questions to learn a bit more about him…
Oscar Mireles is a published poet and he is also the Editor of three anthologies titled “I Didn’t Know There Were Latinos In Wisconsin”. He was recently appointed the “Poet Laureate” of the City of Madison for 2016-2018. Mr. Mireles has received numerous awards and recognition for his service to the community. He is the Executive Director of Omega School, where he has been employed for the past 21 years. Omega School provides GED preparation and adult basic education services to Dane County young adults, who do not possess a high school diploma. During his tenure, he has personally assisted over 3,000 students with earning a GED/HSED credential.
Are you looking forward to the show? Scared? Or both?
After reading about the first LTYM event in the Wisconsin State Journal a couple of years ago, I thought it was an incredibly creative idea to have an event to celebrate a national holiday about Motherhood. It is astonishing to believe it has grown so large in such a short time. A Colombian writer friend Alexandra Rosas helps coordinate the Milwaukee show and her enthusiasm for LTYM is contagious. I had almost convinced myself, that it was a female writer only show, so I got the nerve to ask Ann Imig if that was the case, when we had a reading together a couple of months ago. Much to my surprise it was open and I auditioned, and probably worried more about not getting picked, despite their assurances that as the City of Madison Poet Laureate I had earned a little credibility…
The LTYM process that Ann and her collaborators have instituted with rehearsals, informal get-togethers, more rehearsals leading up to the final show has bonded all the writers together in more ways than I could have ever imagined. Being the only male writer in the show I must admit is a little daunting and a wee bit scary, but I feel so supported by the other writers…so I am looking forward to being on the show….
What are the 3 things you can’t live without?
Three things I can’t live without is high school wrestling, salsa and Zumba dancing and the Latin@ community.
High School wrestling taught me the importance of hard work and determination, gave me a sense of my physical strength and limitations and after immersing myself in the sport of wrestling, I now understand the value of Dan Gable quote, ‘Once you wrestled, everything else in life is easy”. It was a support my brothers and I participated in and I remember going to Madison Memorial High School in 1970 to watch y brother Carlos wrestle. Two of my sons Diego and Sergio wrestled and both were state-caliber wrestlers representing Wisconsin on the National Freestyle and Greco wrestling teams.
Although I am Mexican and know how to dance the Mexican polka (or rancheras) it wasn’t until I moved to Milwaukee in the 1980’s did I learn how to Salsa dance with a co-worker named Maria Correa, who loved to dance and she was nice enough to put up with my mistakes and missteps. About five years ago, I discovered Zumba Dancing with two great instructors at the local health club, Melissa Ganshert and Monica Stephenson. Their enthusiasm, energy and dancing ability got me back into shape, and I find myself moving body parts I didn’t know I had. My new Zumba instructors Melanie, Gio and Trish have kept my interest and each adds their own twist which had kept me going back twice a week…
The Latino community is my inspiration and hope. I have the opportunity to mentor three young adults at different stages in their lives. Fabian, a sixth grader and I are paired in the Dane County Big Brother program. He has a big heart and cares about others, his family, and the world. He has been patient with me and over the past three years has gained confidence in his abilities and improved his grades in school. Evelyn, a high school junior is a Sanchez Scholar and lives near Omega School, and we hired her to help out with childcare with our students. She is bright , confident and well grounded for a 16-year-old. Christian is a college junior and a Rotary Scholars and is in the business school at UW-Madison. he is a first generation college student and has excelled in school and looking forward to graduating college next year.
If you were to give a TED talk, what would you talk about?
I would talk about the “power of second chances” and “overcoming challenges and fear of success”.
I have been fortunate as the Director of Omega School for the past 22 years I have had the opportunity to meet incredibly smart and talented people who did not fit into the mold of the traditional high school setting. The GED Diploma provides an access point for post-secondary education, entry-level employment, and apprenticeships.
I would share the story of our County Executive Joe Parisi, who earned a GED Diploma and graduated from Omega School, attended Madison College and earned a degree from UW-Madison. Or Maudie Garrett, an African American woman who arrived from Chicago with three children and completed Bachelors and Masters Degrees and is completing her Ph.D. Or Kisha Ralston who recently graduated from UW-Madison with a degree in Chemistry and now work in a biotechnology company and no longer working her weekend catering job she has had since she was 16 years old. Each student in their own way, time, and space created a path to work their way out after not graduating from high school.
Join Oscar and the rest of our cast on Mother’s Day 5.8.16 3PM at The Barrymore Theatre!! Buy your tickets online, by phone at (608) 241-8633 ($2.00 convenience fee), at all Barrymore outlets, Happy Bambino, and The Century House Gift Shop. 10% of ticket proceeds to benefit Literacy Network, and we will fund-raise day of the show on their behalf.