“If You Can Dream It, Build It.” -John Ulloa 

On Friday, April 21, 2023, Skyline College hosted its Inaugural R.I.D.E. Conference. Presented by the Puente Learning Community, Dream Center, and Promise Scholars Program, in partnership with Lowride Worldwide, the R.I.D.E. Conference was the first, in-person Lowrider Studies educational conference in history. Coined by “Brothers Empowering Brothers” Co-Founder and Counselor, Dionicio “Dino” Garcia, the R.I.D.E. acronym stands for “Realize Our True Potential. Identify Our Goals. Develop A Plan. Explore.” and it represents a custom spin to the career planning process. The conference was meaningfully designed to build a bridge between the academic and career exploration-based R.I.D.E. framework and the various S.T.E.A.M. fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) through the lens of Lowrider aesthetics, mechanics and culture.

Deep-rooted within Mexican-American history, Lowriding began in the 1940s in the American Southwest as a recreational community pastime, and spread as a result of the expansion of customized, classic car culture in the United States. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Lowriding culture grew alongside the Chicano Movement as not only a form of socio-political solidarity, but as a powerful and artistic manifestation of Chicano pride, identity, and self-expression. Today, Lowriding is practiced and celebrated across the globe in countries such as Japan and Brazil. In 2023, in light of calls to lift “cruising bans” across California, the R.I.D.E. Conference and its presence at the Skyline College campus is not only historically significant, but timely. For over 40 years, “cruising bans” have served as a form of systemic racism against Latinos, in addition to other Black and Brown communities, as a strategy to criminalize community gatherings, limit artistic expression, and generate and maintain harmful cultural stereotypes. 

Beginning on Monday, April 17, the greater R.I.D.E. Conference kicked off as a week-long series of in-person and virtual panels, discussions, and career conversations led by members of the Lowriding community, where students had the opportunity to learn about navigating life and their career trajectory. Facilitators included Julio Ausejo, an aircraft mechanic for United Airlines, Marisa Rosales, a social worker and San Diego Chapter Member of Dukes Car Club, and Brian McGill of Frisco’s Finest Car Club. 

Friday’s event began with opening remarks by Dionicio Garcia, followed by an amazing keynote address by John Ulloa, Professor of History and Anthropology and Scholar of Lowrider Studies. Throughout the day, students engaged in workshops that infused Lowrider history with electrical engineering and circuitry, business concepts, and various artistic mediums. The conference extends its great appreciation to Ricardo “Tijuana Rick” Cortez, Ashley Paloma (Owner of Gypsy Rose Salon and Member of Sacramento’s Majestics Car Club), and Minerva Banuelos for hosting such thoughtful and intentional workshops. 

The day concluded with a Show & Shine night market, which invited students, staff, faculty, friends and family to enjoy an evening filled with music, food, fundraising, vendors, and a car show– where over 40 Lowriders were presented on campus. The event brought many community members to Skyline College for the first time, and provided them the vital opportunity to learn more about the many resources the college has to offer.

This conference would not have been possible without the following:

  • Dionicio Garcia for his vision and creativity in creating the R.I.D.E. framework, his lifelong passion for Lowrider culture, and his drive and commitment to transform this conference from a dream to reality. 
  • Monique Ubungen for her huge support and initiative throughout the planning, organizing, and coordination processes of the R.I.D.E. Conference.
  • Dulce Martinez Luna for her skill and leadership in administration and logistics. 
  • Lucia Lachmayr and Marisa Thigpen for their patience, guidance and encouragement.
  • John Ulloa for helping pave the way for this event by serving as a source of inspiration and empowerment.
  • Luis Escobar for believing in the vision of the R.I.D.E. Conference.
  • Joseph Jaballa, Andrea Hernandez, Judith Martinez, Kim Davalos, Albin Lee, Alexandra Urbina, and the fantastic team of student volunteers for assisting in the execution of the event. 
  • Martin Marquez and the Dream Center for hosting and organizing R.I.D.E. Show & Shine.
  • Frisco’s Finest Car Club for donating the skateboards for the Pin-Striping workshop and giveaway.
  • Last, but not least, a big thank you to Newin Orante, Vinicio Lopez, and Acting President, Joe Morello for providing the R.I.D.E. family the opportunity to host this historical event at Skyline College.

To learn more about the R.I.D.E. Conference or to get involved in next year’s event, please contact Dionicio “Dino” Garcia at garciadion@smccd.edu.

Article by: Monique Ubungen and Dionicio Garcia | Photos by: Marisa Thigpen, Monique Ubungen, Dulce Martinez Luna, and Dionicio Garcia

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