SoCal Latinos Honored at the Leaders in Education Awards

Event hosted by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to be held at JW Marriott @ L.A. Live! on April 18

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: March 21, 2013

SoCal Latinos Honored at the Leaders in Education Awards

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), the nation's leading provider of college scholarships to Latinos, will honor a new generation of Southern California students, parents, teachers, schools and volunteers who have pursued and persevered to bring higher education to themselves, their families and their communities. HSF's third annual Leaders in Education Awards (LEA) luncheon will be held on Thursday, April 18th at the JW Marriott Hotel (Gold Ballroom) at LA Live! in downtown Los Angeles.

"HSF is delighted to recognize outstanding Latinos in Southern California who are driven and committed to bringing higher education opportunities to their children and their communities," says Fidel Vargas, President and CEO. "We want to continue building strong ties to our community in order to raise the number of Latino college graduates around the country."

HSF's Board of Directors will be on hand at the event, led by Jim McNamara, HSF Board Chair and founder and Chairman of Panamax Films. Also expected to be on hand: Anthony Salcido, vice president, North American Financial Integration of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.; Tim Hanlon, executive vice president, Wells Fargo Philanthropy Group; actor/comedian Cheech Marin; President of Galan Entertainment, Nely Galan, are also among our distinguished guests.

Kim Baldonado, Emmy Award-winning reporter for NBC4 and HSF alum will be the Emcee at the Luncheon. The event is designed to raise awareness of HSF's work in Southern California and across the nation, and to highlight the contribution leaders in the community make towards education among Latinos. Attendees will include leaders from major corporations, politicians, educators, HSF scholars and alumni & community leaders.

More event information is available at


School of the Year ‘«Ű ?Łnimo Leadership Charter High School
?Łnimo Leadership is located in the City of Inglewood in South West Los Angeles. ?Łnimo's mission is to prepare students for college, leadership, and life through innovative instruction, a rigorous curriculum, and the use of cutting-edge technology. From the over 600 enrolled students, 97% are Hispanic, 95% are socioeconomically disadvantaged and 95% of them are in receipt of Free or Reduced Price Lunches. Nevertheless, of the results from the 2012 California High School Exit Exams, 94% passed English and 97% passed Math. At ?Łnimo Leadership, students are required to take the SAT exam and applying for college is a homework assignment. The school provides after school programming and athletics geared towards motivating students to engage in positive activities. Through its afterschool programming the school serves approximately 114 students with nearly 50% of students participating in activities three times a week. Through its sports teams, the school has won CIF Division titles and has excelled in both boys and girls athletics. Parents are also actively engaged at the school. There is a strong parent organization that meets regularly to discuss student achievement, the budget and any other concerns they may have. Some parents participate in an organizing institute aimed at empowering them to improve their community and in parent workshops that educate parents about how to talk to school counselors, how to best support their student and how to ensure their student is on track to go to college. For more information, go to:

Educator of the Year ‘«Ű Teresa Carreto
Teresa Carreto is the Career and College Advisor at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. Terry and her husband both graduated from Roosevelt High and decided to move back to Boyle Heights to give back to the communities where they grew up. Teresa is a 22-year veteran at Roosevelt High where she has been a teacher, mentor and a mother to thousands of students. As the Career and College Advisor, it is her job to ensure that every graduating senior is headed to college or a technical school. Through her efforts, the school has given away over $500,000 in scholarships and she single-handedly encouraged a noted philanthropist and Roosevelt High alumni to endow a Fulbright Scholarship at the school. Teresa also founded the "Dreams Come True" fundraiser at the school, which raises money to ensure all graduating seniors can afford the $85 cap and gown fee. Terry can always be found in her office making sure every student has the best opportunity. Terry says she works for the kids because they all deserve a chance to better themselves and their lives and perhaps return someday to mentor future Roosevelt High students.

Parent of the Year ‘«Ű Lorena Aguilar
Lorena Aguilar is a dental front office manager who was born in Mexico and grew up in Whittier. Lorena, her older and younger sister and her two brothers were instilled with a strong sense of upward mobility and education by her working class immigrant parents. She has passed on those strong values to her two daughters whom she has raised as a single mom, with the help of her closely-knit family. Lorena studied business administration at Cerritos College, embarking on her current 20-year career as a dental front office manager. Being around doctors and other professionals inspired Lorena to encourage her daughters to go to college. She took it upon herself to learn everything about the college application process to ensure her daughters got a university degree. Her oldest daughter Nadine has a Masters in Education and her younger daughter Justine Loren studies Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Riverside. Lorena is active in the community as a board member and President of Precious Little Butterflies, a non-profit organization that helps children in shelters, group and foster homes, who are victims of domestic violence, in her hometown of Murrieta in the Temecula Valley and surrounding areas.

Female Student of the Year ‘«Ű Barbie Elizabeth Aguilar
Barbie Elizabeth Aguilar is a 17-year old senior at Redondo Union High School. She was born in Los Angeles and grew up going to her parents' homeland of Peru for summer vacations. The experiences gave her a love for Peru and its resilient people and helped her gain a sense of how fortunate she was to live in the United States. Her dream is to attend college, become an architect and move to Peru for a year to build homes for needy families. Barbie maintains a 3.5 GPA and is active in school clubs such as the Cervantes Spanish Honors Society Club, the Animal Club, where she volunteers at pet adoption centers and her beloved Salsa Club. Barbie credits Salsa dancing with helping her blossom and gain self-confidence. She advises her peers to do their best and set high goals in everything they do.

Male Student of the Year ‘«Ű Ariel Salazar
The son of Mexican immigrants, Ariel Salazar learned the values of hard work and dedication from an early age. A senior at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, Ariel maintains a 3.75 GPA, while he makes plans to attend UCLA. Coming from a low-income family has made Ariel work harder for himself, his family and his people. While in the 8th grade, Arial ran a 5K to benefit breast cancer and has regularly volunteered at his church, local community club, Salvation Army and other organizations. After seeing his grades falter due to his preoccupation with his father's illness, it was his father's words that got Ariel back on track to "make lemonade" from his troubles. He opened up to his English teacher who agreed to give Ariel extra credit to write a paper how about he dealt with his family issues, earning him an A in the class.

Volunteer/Mentor of the Year ‘«Ű Oscar Ayon-Puga
Oscar Ayon-Puga is President / Co-founder of Unidos Por La M??sica, a non-profit with a mission is to provide University Scholarships, Medical Grants and Hunger Relief efforts by creating musical charitable events to benefit those in need. At the young age of 30, Oscar has impacted thousands of families through his community outreach program "Bags of Hope" which provides bags of groceries to needy families. Last year this program fed 66,000 children and adults throughout the Inland Empire. He also awarded the first medical grants of $2,000 to a local single mother who is facing a critical medical condition preventing her from providing for her three beautiful daughters. Through his community outreach program Knowledge is Power, Mr. Ayon speaks frequently to school young kids and teenagers about his experiences growing up with little or no opportunities and how he overcame obstacles to build a successful life and career. He was recently invited through the Inland Empire United Way Scholars Promise to mentor various classrooms within the Ontario - Montclair Schools District about career opportunities. Oscar's main goal is to empower students into being all they want to be in life and to share his formula of success; Knowing what you want, Focus, and Perseverance. For more information:


2013 LEA supporters include: The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation, Google, American Honda Motor Company, Nielsen, Southwest Airlines, Warner Brothers, The Walt Disney Company, Televisa Foundation, Union Bank and long-time HSF national partner Toyota who will present the Student of the Year Award.

For more information about the event, visit

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