Cleveland zoo worker keynotes YSU's Hispanic Heritage Month kickoff


For Adriana De Los Santos, growing up in Youngstown as the child of Mexican immigrants was like living in two worlds at the same time.

The Chaney grad described playing on the streets of the West Side and going inside where her mother would listen to Mexican music, prepare Mexican food and watch telenovelas.

De Los Santos now works as an animal keeper at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo where she serves as an example to Hispanic youth.

“I never pictured myself working to be a role model for younger kids, but representation matters,” De Los Santos said.

It’s important for minority children to relate to the person handling animals on stage, De Los Santos said, because it may allow them to see themselves in the next generation of scientists and problem-solvers.

De Los Santos was the keynote speaker at Youngstown State University’s opening ceremony for its Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations Thursday at the Mahoning County Courthouse.

The event opened with members of the community parading 22 flags from Hispanic nations, including the United States, which has the second-largest population of Spanish speakers in the world, across the Mahoning County Courthouse rotunda.

Read more about the month's events in Friday's Vindicator or on

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