Vida En El Valle: Latino Caucus honors prize-winning author, female rocket scientist, 8 others

May 17, 2017

Ten Latino trailblazers received state recognition by the California Latino Legislative Caucus on May 1 during its 16th annual Latino Spirit Awards at the State Capitol.

“The Latino Caucus is proud to present these outstanding individuals with the Latino Spirit Awards,” said Caucus Chairman, Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), in a statement. “Through their hard work, their commitment to the community, or their achievements in their respective fields, they serve as role models, not only for Latinos, but for all Californians.”

This year’s honorees included: Beatriz Acevedo, (President/Founder, Mitú) Achievement in Technology & Media; Sylvia Acevedo, (Interim CEO, Girl Scouts USA) Achievement in Health & Science; Isabel Allende, (Author) Achievement in Literature; Dr. Joseph I. Castro, (Fresno State President) Achievement in Education; Father Miguel Ceja, (Pastor, OLPH Parish, Riverside) Achievement in Human Rights; Jonas Corona, (Founder, Love in the Mirror, Long Beach) Dynamic Youth Award; Dr. Michael Lizárraga, (President/CEO, TELACU) Achievement in Business; Adrian Molina, (Co-director/writer, PIXAR) Achievement in Arts & Entertainment; María Elena Salinas, (Anchor, Univisión) Achievement in Journalism & Media; and, Josephine S. Talamántez, (Founder/Board Chair, Chicano Park San Diego) Achievement in Arts & Advocacy.

“I was surprised, and honored, and humble because of the respect I have for the Latino Legislative Caucus and all the work that they do for California,” said Castro of receiving the award in the field of education. “So to be recognized by them is one of the most important accomplishments in my life.”

“They treated us with tremendous love and respect; it’s been an incredible day to meet the honorees and to hear about what they are doing to serve other Latinos, other people, other adults. Humbled to be part of the group,” Castro said.

Since 2002, the Latino Caucus has honored Latinos in various categories such as technology; journalism & media; literature; health & science; business, education; human rights; arts; public service, entertainment and advocacy.

The Awards take place each year during an Assembly floor ceremony at the State Capitol to coincide with the state’s celebration of Cinco de Mayo and to recognize inspirational figures in the Latino community.

This year keynote speaker was former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso.

“Each and every one of these honorees, in their own way, helps make our multi-ethnic America stronger, more prosperous, and more educated,” said Reynoso during the ceremony. “Each and every one has helped create a richer tapestry of California and I believe that because of their work, they have inspired more Californians to add to it. Each and every one of them inspires and encourages us to grow, to live, to understand and respect one another. Because of their work and accomplishments, we can all be proud to be Latinos in California and in America.”

“I also feel that I represent Latinos. This is a very difficult time for us. A moment in which there is a wave of xenophobia, of nationalism, of partisanship, that paints us badly. They leave us as if we were criminals, as if we were all illegal, undocumented and that is not true,” said Allende of the importance of recognizing the contributions Latinos make in this county. “The contribution of Latinos in California and the United States is enormous. And on an occasion like this we can see it. “

“I feel very proud to be bicultural,” said the prize-winning writer, adding that immigrants can adapt to this country “without giving up who they are. We bring with us such baggage of culture, language, art, keep that, and also add everything that this country offers. We do not have to give up anything we can have it all.”

Molina has always had an interest and passion in arts and expressed gratitude for his family for the “tremendous support and love and guidance” to pursue his passion.

About the Latino Spirit Award in arts and entertainment, Molina said he was, “A little surprise but also very honored. It’s great to be recognized, especially to be working for a film that is very personal to me and is specific to Mexican Culture,” said the 31-year-old Molina.

For Talamántez, getting the recognition from the Latino Caucus means the history of Chicanos is also being recognized.

“It’s a great honor, but it represents the community that I’ve been serving all this years,” Talamántez said. “People from the Chicano Park steering committee, the Chicano Park Museum and Cultural Center, the Chicano Park itself, the artist that I’ve worked with over the years, and the historical preservation community. I am very moved.”

“I was so grateful to state assembly person Monique Limón from Santa Barbara,” said Sylvia Acevedo, an engineer and rocket scientist.

“She knew of my background as a rocket scientist, she knew all the work I did as a technologist and working on grass group mobilization around education and she is the one who nominated me and I am very grateful for that. To be in this amazing company of such super stars I am deeply honored,” Acevedo added.

“This award is truly an honor for me. Our organization serves the community and it’s done so for nearly 50 years, creating jobs, creating affordable housing, creating access to capital, creating educational opportunities for Latino young people,” Lizárraga said. “So to be recognized by the Latino Legislative Caucus for achievement in business is truly a great acknowledgment for me.”

“They are the essence of the Latino Spirit,” Hueso said of the honorees.

Contact the Reporter: María G. Ortiz-Briones / / 559-441-6782