LANSING, Mich., September 2s, 2023: The Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan (HLCOM) held their annual Hispanic Heritage Event where they awarded thirteen students with $1,000 scholarships and honored six Latinx leaders for their contributions.
“The Commission is proud to convene our communities to celebrate ambitious Latinx leaders and students, and provide scholarships that ease the financial burden Hispanic and Latinx students may face amid their pursuit of higher education,” Office of Global Michigan Director Poppy Hernandez said. “By collaborating with and uplifting esteemed community members like those awarded this evening, our work continues to make Michigan a welcoming state. Global Michigan is committed to empowering and engaging the immigrant, refugee and international community as we make Michigan the home for opportunity.”
To further career development and increase the enrollment of Latinx people in postsecondary education and training programs, the commission awarded $1,000 each to 13 students through their Nuestro Futuro Scholarship. Recipients of the scholarship are students currently enrolled in a Michigan-based high school, college, university or other recognized higher education institution who plan on utilizing the funds for postsecondary education.
Scholarship recipients from across the state include:
- Alejandra Padilla Miguel of Detroit, Michigan, Studying at Michigan State University
- Alexis Robles Vazquez of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Studying at Grand Valley State University
- Carlos Panuco of Holland, Michigan, Studying at Michigan State University
- Jada Linstrom of Norton Shores, Michigan, Studying at Muskegon Community College
- Lizbeth Zavala of Southwest Detroit, Michigan, Studying at Wayne State University
- Nigthdelyn Martinez of Detroit, Michigan, Studying at University of Michigan
- Ruberto Mosqueda of Midland, Michigan, Studying at Mid-Michigan Community College
- Emilio Albaranque of Argentina/East Lansing, Michigan, Studying at Michigan State University
- Enrique Cazares of Parlier, California, Studying at Michigan State University
- Gabriella Olivarez of Saginaw, Michigan, Studying at Delta College
- Samantha Rodriguez of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Studying at Central Michigan University
- Tania Sofia Ruiz Sierra of Mexico/Novi, Michigan, Studying at University of Michigan
- Tomas Tello of Flint, Michigan, Studying at Michigan State University
The Nuestro Futuro Scholarship submissions opened in the spring and closed on July 4. Committee selections were made based on the student’s submitted essay, grade point average, letters of recommendation and community service experience. Each of these students will receive $1,000 in scholarship funding to support their educational attainment goals.
“The Commission’s top priority is the advancement of educational and economic opportunity for our Latinx communities,” said HLCOM Commission Chair Jesse Bernal. “We are proud to invest in the bright future of the scholarship recipients and hope those who joined us left the celebration with a renewed sense of pride for our culture and communities.”
Each spring, the commission collects nominations for Latinx leaders to be recognized at the annual fall event. The following committee-selected leaders were honored for their contributions to the state in the areas of art, education, military service, community service, lifetime achievement and heroism:
- Educator of the Year Award: Celeny Quintino of Grand Rapids, Michigan
- Unsung Hero Award: Abby Teasley of Grand Haven, Michigan
- Arts in the Community Award: Mary Puentes Luevanos of Southwest Detroit
- Veteran of the Year Award: Jose Manuel Estrada of Lansing, Michigan
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Gilberto “Gil” Guevara of Saginaw, Michigan
- Community Service Award: Danieal “Dano” Oropeza of Pharr, Texas/Kalamazoo, Michigan
“Since its establishment in 1975, the Commission has been charged with honoring Latinx Michiganders and their contributions across the state,” said Bernal. “Every single individual recognized during our event is well-deserving of the prestigious award they received for their outstanding commitment to service in their community and beyond.”
The event included a vibrant display of artwork by Detroiter and Dominican Artist Odette Duke and a diverse Latinx dance performance by Reflejos Latinos of Ann Arbor, which took guests on a tour of various parts of Latin America through dance. Event sponsors included: Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Ford Motor Co., Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, MI Latinx Coalition, HBN Building Services and Comcast.
HLCOM strives to market the state’s career development services to Latinx Michiganders, encourage initiatives to reduce the high school dropout rates of Hispanic youth and facilitate efforts to increase the enrollment of Hispanics in postsecondary education and training programs. Learn more about the Commission and their work at michigan.gov/HLCOM.