VANCOUVER, Wash. — Washington State University Vancouver is hosting a public lecture Sept. 25, featuring educator and motivator Jaime Escalante as he presents  “Ganas: Creating the Desire to Learn.”

The 7 p.m. lecture is free and will be in the Student Services lecture hall and be followed by an audience discussion and refreshments. Seating is limited.

Escalante’s genius for teaching became the subject of the book, “Escalante: The Best Teacher in America,” and the acclaimed film, “Stand and Deliver,” starring Edward James Olmos. 

A native of Bolivia, Escalante spent 11 years as a mathematics and physics teacher before arriving in America. Unable to speak the language, he worked mopping floors. It was only after teaching himself English that Escalante was able to re-enter the teaching profession. He was hired to teach math at Garfield High School, a poorly funded East Los Angeles high school plagued by constant violence. 

A combination of dedication, gentle persuasion and showmanship enabled Escalante to eventually lift his students to the top ranks in national calculus testing. Suspecting cheating, officials demanded that his students retake the test. Again the students surpassed all expectations — except Escalante’s. As both a teacher and a lecturer, he motivates listeners to reach higher and achieve more than they thought possible. 

“I do not believe in the gifted,” says Escalante. “I believe in ganas (desire).”

Sponsors of the event include WSU Vancouver’s Student Services, the Department of Education, Diversity Task Force and the U.S. Department of Education Title III TEAMS Program.  

For more information, call (360) 546-9567. WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., east of the 134th Street exit from either I-5 or I-205.