By Francisco Camacho, Contributing Writer
October is finally here, and besides the long-awaited transition to fall, there’s more significance to it – it’s Hispanic Heritage Month. To kick the month off, BCC had a presentation which took place in the Anna Maria Ciccone theater.

BCC President Michael Redmond described the school as a Hispanic-Serving Institution as Latinos make up about 25 percent of BCC. He expressed his pride in the diversity here at BCC. He felt it “contributes greatly to our community and our vibrancy.”

The event featured the keynote speaker, Gian Paul Gonzalez, a Union City high school teacher who became a public speaker. He is also a former All-American basketball player from Montclair State University.

Gonzalez was offered several contracts to play professional basketball but decided to reject the offers and give back to the community. Instead, he decided to become a teacher and teach world history at Jose Marti Freshman Academy.

He was here to deliver his famous “All In” speech, which propelled the New York Giants Super Bowl run back in 2011. He was here to give a backdrop on his life and what it meant to be “All In”.

His speech began with his birth. His mother was pregnant with him when she contracted the measles and was considered a high-risk pregnancy.

Furthermore, some of the baby’s limbs were not developing properly and she was advised to terminate the pregnancy. She refused to terminate the pregnancy and had Mr. Gonzales.
His presentation had one theme present which was commitment; all his anecdotes always came full circle to always having a sense of commitment.

When he spoke about a meeting he had with the New York Giants players, he recalled asking everyone in the room about commitment and what it meant. He compared commitment to playing a game of poker in which a person makes an irreversible decision to go “all-in.”

He then posed several questions: “If we would never do it in a game why would do it in real life? Why do we say we’re going to be committed to something, then when things get tough we back away?”

He gave each player a poker chip and instructed them to sign it. “When you see it, ask yourself the question, ‘am I really giving my best’?” The Giants proceeded to win every game left in that season and to win the Super Bowl after that speech.

He believes that being “all-in” is a lifestyle – something to tell oneself every day to strive to become the greatest.“That’s what it’s all about. It’s about being committed inside… what do we do when no one is watching?”

He has opened a youth center in West New York, New Jersey called Hope and Future, an establishment open for any student 21 and under for free. The center started with five students and, 20 months later, now has nearly 1300 students signed up.

Mr. Gonzalez no longer works as a teacher, but mostly serves as a coach for other teachers and runs the youth center. He continues to push forward the message of commitment and empowers his community to do better.