Latinas Unidas honors community members

ROCHESTER — Latinas Unidas celebrated its 16th anniversary with its annual Reconocimiento awards that honored a longtime educator, a television journalist and two high-school students.

More than 240 people attended the event, held Nov. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The celebration included dance performances from Borinquen Dance Theatre and Arco Iris Mexicano and a violin solo by Reconocimiento award recipient Marina Ramos.

Brockport Mayor Maria Connie Castañeda served as the event’s honorary madrina, and Mauricio Riveros from the Pike Co. served as the honorary padrino. Castañeda is the first Latina to become a mayor in New York state.

"I’m here to encourage our Latinas … to dream and work hard," she said. "Nothing comes for free. … Remember to always do your best. Try hard. Work hard. Think big. Dream big."

Riveros said that Latinas Unidas’ founders serve as a great example of women who had a dream, formed a vision and made their dream of creating an organization that fosters and celebrates leadership in Latinas a reality.

"Through leadership service, it’s an opportunity to give the opportunity to our young people to be leaders not only for the future but for the present," he said.

Four Reconocimiento Awards were presented during the event:

  • Diana Hernández, currently working on her doctoral degree in executive leadership at St. John Fisher College, received the Career Achievement award. She has spent 33 years as a teacher, vice principal, principal and director of the Rochester City School District’s bilingual-education program.
  • Norma Holland, anchor for Channel 13 WHAM’s "News This Morning" program, received the Inspirational Leadership Award. She has been with Channel 13 since 1996, and as host of "Many Voices, Many Visions" explores the diversity within area neighborhoods and usually serves as mistress of ceremonies for Latinas Unidas’ awards luncheon.
  • Marina Ramos, a junior at Penfield High School who also is a member of the children’s choir and cantor program at St. Louis Church in Pittsford, received the Young Latina Leader award. She also is a violinist with the Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
  • Olga Martínez, a senior at Dr. Freddie Thomas High School, is the first student to receive the Volunteer Service Award. For the past four years, she has helped other students with their homework at Clara Barton School and works with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to help them earn their badges.

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