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LULAC Receives WNMU President's Award, Students Receive Scholarships

Article and photos by Shirin McArthur (the rest of the article can be read after the photos)

The Silver City League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 8003 held its 30th Annual Scholarship and Student of the Month Awards Celebration at WNMU on Saturday, July 27. Eighteen students received college scholarships and seven Cobre and Silver High School students received Student of the Month Awards. In addition, LULAC itself received the 2014 WNMU President's Award, which recognizes important individuals, families and companies that have made significant contributions to the university, Grant County and/or New Mexico.



The celebration began with an opening prayer by the Rev. Henry Hoffman, LULAC Scholarship Chairperson, followed by welcomes from LULAC Council President, Lynn Godoy Baca, and WNMU President, Dr. Joseph Shepard. Students, their families and friends, and the LULAC community then enjoyed a banquet dinner provided by WNMU. The awards ceremony followed.

Lynn Godoy Baca began the ceremony by noting a number of distinguished guests, including Paul Martinez, New Mexico LULAC State Director, State Senator Howie Morales, and State Representative Dianne Hamilton. Ms. Baca then introduced the LULAC Keynote Speaker, Ms. Jessica Martinez, a 23-year-old, fourth-generation LULAC member who is New Mexico Deputy State LULAC Director. Ms. Martinez shared some stories of the historic impact of LULAC as an organization, such as the fact that a successful LULAC legal case was the precedent which the Supreme Court used in ruling on the Brown v. Board of Education case which outlawed racial segregation in 1954. Ms. Martinez then encouraged the students who were receiving scholarships to consider the impact that their own work will have on the next seven generations.

Rev. Hoffman and scholarship committee member (and former Chairperson) Fred Baca then presented the scholarship awards to students. As part of the requirements for accepting the awards, each student had to give a three-minute speech. Many students spoke of their plans for school and future career, as well as how their experiences in school are shaping those plans. The high school students of the month were then presented with their awards by Frances Vasquez, chairperson of the Student of the Month program.

Following these student awards, a number of LULAC Council awards were given, and the scholarship sponsors were recognized: AmBank, 1st New Mexico Bank, and WNMU. Ms. Baca announced that the Silver City LULAC Council 8003 had been awarded State Council of the Year for 2014, which is a significant honor for this relatively young chapter.

Dr. Shepard then presented the WNMU President's Award to Ms. Baca and the LULAC Council, sharing his connection with the Latin American community through his Mexican wife, Marcela. He focused also on how LULAC supports the educational needs of students at WNMU and other educational institutions, with over $200,000 in scholarships (funded in large part through enchilada dinner sales and Bingo nights) having been awarded to Grant County students during the life of the program.

Dr. Shepard then invited Sen. Morales, a former LULAC scholarship recipient, to speak. Sen. Morales, who received the Charlie "Killer" Aguirre Memorial Scholarship in 1992, encouraged the scholarship recipients to research the leaders in whose honor their scholarships were given, so that students would understand who they are honoring and what those people had overcome in their own lives. He promised the students that the road would not always be easy but, if they did their best, they would succeed.

Sen. Morales expressed appreciation for LULAC's work in taking care of the Latin American community "from the inside out" and then announced that he would fund a $500 scholarship in honor of his mother-in-law, Vicky Sierra Arizaga, whose determination to provide for her family left an indelible impression.

The LULAC Celebration closed with a benediction by the Rev. Paul Moore, chaplain of LULAC Council 8003. LULAC's Bingo scholarship fundraisers are held every Wednesday, 7 pm, at the LULAC hall, 100 Alice Street, Silver City.


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