Colleges strive to help Latino studentsWritten by Michael Stainbrook | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The winners of the 20th Annual Diamante Awards will be announced Sept. 11 during a ceremony at the Franciscan Center at Lourdes College.
While 19 people were nominated for this year’s Diamante Awards, only four awards will be given: Latino/Latina Youth Leadership, Latino/Latina Adult Leadership, Corporation/Community Agency and Friend to the Latino Community.
According to committee member Margarita DeLeon, the awards serve “to recognize individuals who support and promote Latino issues and causes and to raise scholarship funds for Latino students.”
The awards were created in 1989 by IMAGE of Northwest Ohio as a means of recognizing those who advanced Latino issues in the community.
DeLeon, who has served as a fundraiser, adviser and committee member for 20 years, said the event also aims to promote education among Latino youth.
“The awards also serve as an event to help inspire students to go to school and businesses to help with fundraising,” she said.
Scholarships are raised through four institutions: UT, BGSU, Lourdes College and Owens Community College.
According to DeLeon and the Lourdes Web site, these four institutions formed the Diamante Initiate in 2003 with the goal of raising funds to help Latinos achieve a post-secondary education. The initiative raised $500,000 from its inception through 2006. The institutions continue to collaborate to help Latinos achieve success in the classroom. In total, 30 scholarships will be awarded at this year’s ceremony.
According to Lourdes College Vice President of Institutional Advancement Mary Arquette, Lourdes has five endowed scholarships that have been developed through the college’s participation in the Diamante Initiative.
“Over the course of the Diamantes, we have put together almost $100,000 in terms of scholarship support,” she said.
She praised the four institutions that make up the initiative for selflessly striving to further the education of Latinos.
“We all put aside our own institutions to come together in this collaboration, and it has been very rewarding for Lourdes College and our Latino students. We are proud and honored to be a part of this collaboration.”
Prior to 2003, Arquette said Lourdes had done little to address the specific financial needs of Latinos. However, through the Diamante Initiative, Lourdes students have begun a Hispanic Advisory Council and a Latino Student Union.
“Both of these groups have been established due to Diamante,” she said. “They help us to ascertain how we can help Latinos.”
Approximately 2 percent of Lourdes’ 2,200 students are Latino. But on the whole, Lourdes remains dedicated to its entire student body’s financial needs.
“We try to make our education affordable for all students, including our Latino students,” she said.
“The Diamante Awards are the premier Latino event,” De Leon said. “We host it at the beginning of September to kick off Latino Heritage Month,” which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
There are many ways to support Latino students in the Toledo area. The Diamante Awards serve as the main fundraiser for the Diamante Initiative, so attendance in itself is appreciated. Through Lourdes College, Arquette stated, a person may set up a pass-through scholarship with a donation of at least $500 or contribute through an endowed scholarship, which requires a $10,000 gift and is awarded in perpetuities.
“We work with donors to establish criteria for each scholarship,” she said.
According to DeLeon, this year’s Diamante Awards are open to all who would like to attend. The event will feature entertainment, Latino cuisine, a silent auction and cash bar. This year’s emcee will be BGSU Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Albert Colom. Those wishing to attend should call Kelly Dilworth at (419) 824-3751.
2008 Diamante Award Winners
- Oriana Orozco is a student at Lourdes College who took action to further the cause of Latinos on campus through the Latino Student Union.
- Albert Flores is a teacher at Libbey High School.
- The Chrysler Corporation, which has donated $15,000 in scholarship funds, had been a main sponsor of the Diamante’s for four years, and the Corporation/Community Agency Award was given in appreciation of its support. DeLeon specifically mentioned Jeep Plant Manager Luis Rivas for his dedication to the Diamantes, despite his busy schedule.
- Mark Pickett was recognized for his aid to migrant farm workers.