The 18th annual Diamante Community Awards, recognizing Hispanic contributions to the Toledo area, will be presented Sept. 14 in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.
In addition to the four Diamante (“diamond” in Spanish) Awards, scholarships will be presented to about 40 students from BGSU, the University of Toledo, Owens Community College and Lourdes College—the four northwest Ohio institutions whose partnership in the awards program benefits their Latino students.
Rebecca Aguilar, a BGSU alumna and award-winning reporter at KDFW, Fox TV in Dallas-Fort Worth, will provide opening and closing comments at the public event, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. At 9 p.m., a silent auction will raise scholarship funds and feature artwork by area artists. Tejano musician Jesse Ponce of Toledo will perform during the auction.
The BGSU Graduate String Quartet will also provide music during the evening, and the presidents of each of the four collaborating institutions will offer remarks. Major sponsorship for the ceremony is provided by the Chrysler Foundation.
Among the four award honorees is Naomi Valdez, a BGSU senior from Findlay who will receive the Latino/Latina Youth Leadership Award. As 2006-07 president of the University’s Latino Student Union, Valdez, an international studies major, has worked with various campus departments developing methods to attract Latino students to BGSU.
Her campus involvement also includes serving as student chair of the annual Latino Issues Conference and as a member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration steering committee and the Cinco de Mayo scholarship campaign. In December 2005, she was part of a BGSU delegation that traveled to Mobile, Ala., to offer Hurricane Katrina relief.
Valdez is also one of six BGSU students who will be presented scholarships at the Sept. 14 event. She will receive a $1,000 National City Bank Diamante Latino Scholars award, while $2,000 BGSU Foundation Scholarships will go to Michelle Bologna, a sophomore from Cincinnati majoring in international studies and Spanish; Jacqueline Hernandez, a junior from Wauseon majoring in early childhood education, and Nathaniel Olmeda, a junior music education major from Cleveland. Ryan Garcia, a senior from Willard majoring in family and consumer sciences, is a Chrysler Corp. Fund Diamante Scholar, worth $1,000, and Jonathan Visalden, a junior criminal justice major from Lorain, will receive the same amount as an Owens Corning Foundation Diamante Latino Scholar.
BGSU’s Diamante scholarships are based on grade point average and financial need, as well as dedication and commitment to the campus Latino community. “We are thrilled to able to support more students at higher levels,” said Dr. Alberto González, co-chair of the event and a previous Diamante Award recipient.
The other three Diamante Awards will be presented to Tom Brogan, Friend of the Latino Community; Bob Salazar, Latino/Latina Adult Leadership, and Owens Corning, Corporate/Community Agency.
Brogan has supported numerous events hosted by the Latino Networking Alliance at BGSU. For an alliance-sponsored taco dinner scholarship benefit, he rearranged a breakfast crew schedule at the Burger King restaurant he manages so the crew could cook for the dinner. He has also given his time and resources to BGSU Spirit Day and to BGSU Networking Alliance Holiday Parade efforts.
Salazar, of Toledo, has co-chaired the city’s LatinoFest and initiated Latino Mudhen Day, making it an annual Latino scholarship fund-raising event in the community. In addition, as president of the Spanish American Organization, he developed partnerships and agreements with area colleges and universities to provide matching dollars for Latino scholarships awarded by the organization.
Owens Corning is being honored for its role in the Diamante Campaign, which was launched in 2003 with the goal of raising $500,000 for Latino scholarships. With the help of Dave Brown, the corporation’s president and CEO, the campaign received an initial Owens Corning pledge of $75,000. That led the way to a successful campaign, which closed last year but now generates nearly 40 scholarships annually at the four partnering institutions.
Raising scholarship funds, as well as recognizing local Hispanic contributions, are the purposes of the awards, which were founded in 1989 by IMAGE of Northwest Ohio, a local chapter of a national Latino nonprofit organization.
For tickets to the Sept. 14 ceremonies, contact Roberta Garcia at 2-7681 or email@example.com. Prices are $60 per person and $100 for two people in advance, or $75 and $125, respectively, at the door. For students, tickets are $25 per student with valid ID in advance, or $30 at the door.