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Youths Honored at Annual Hispanics Achieving and Celebrating Excellence Awards Reception

October, 2017
  • H.A.C.E. Youth Recognition Award recipients.
    H.A.C.E. Youth Recognition Award recipients.
  • From left: Director of Community Bridges Deborah Gonzalez and Coordinator of Future Focus Program, Gilmarie Vongphakdy.
    From left: Director of Community Bridges Deborah Gonzalez and Coordinator of Future Focus Program, Gilmarie Vongphakdy.
  • Master of Ceremonies Eric Batista.
    Master of Ceremonies Eric Batista.
  • From left:Olga López-Hill, Dolly Vazquez and Deborah Gonzalez.
    From left:Olga López-Hill, Dolly Vazquez and Deborah Gonzalez.

Mayor Proclaims H.A.C.E. Day

Earlier this month Quinsigamond Community College was host to the 32nd Annual H.A.C.E. Youth Recognition Awards. For the last 32 years the H.A.C.E. (Hispanics Achieving and Celebrating Excellence) awards have been given to graduating Latino high school students in the Worcester area who have excelled in arts, academics, athletics, community service, leadership and civic/political engagement. To date over 500 students have been recognized and a total of over $33,000 has been awarded.

This year 30 graduating high school students from Worcester and surrounding high schools were honored.

Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Eric Batista, a former H.A.C.E. award recipient, who read a proclamation from Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty, declaring October 4, 2017 as H.A.C.E. Day in the City of Worcester. The declaration asked all Worcester to recognize and participate in its observance.

Keynote speaker for the event was QCC’s President, Dr. Luis G. Pedraja, who spoke of his own personal story emigrating from Cuba and becoming the first of his family to attend college.

“With each accomplishment we achieve, with each obstacle we overcome, with each step we take, we pave the road for the future and open a pathway for others,” he said told those assembled. “Together we can make a difference and reach great heights.”

In addition to the 30 high school student awards, three other awards were presented. They included:

The Olga López-Hill Community Leadership Scholarship: QCC student and Phi Theta Kappa member, Dathiel Blake, was awarded the scholarship, which is available to students who plan to continue their education at QCC or plan to transfer to another educational institution. Mr. Blake is president of QCC’s Brothers and Keepers male mentoring program and is also a mentor in the 100 Males to College program.  This scholarship was developed in honor of Olga López-Hill who worked at QCC for over 20 years advocating and inspiring students to further their education.

The Marlyn Reyes Memorial Community Leadership Award: This award is given in memory of Ms. Reyes who dedicated her life to improving her community.  Steven Robles, of Claremont Academy was the recipient.

The Dolly Vazquez Cultural Award: Burncoat High School student Jessenia Caballero was the recipient of this award. Ms. Vazquez is well-known for her tireless cultural involvement in the Worcester community.

The 2017 honorees were:


  • Kayla Benitez Alvarez – University Park Campus College
  • Jocelyn DePaz – North High School
  • Frances Garcia – Southbridge High School
  • Jori Hiraldo – Doherty Memorial High School
  • Angie Morales – Burncoat High School
  • Soamy Morales – Worcester Technical High School
  • Chris Nieves – South High Community School
  • Isaac Quiles – Worcester Technical High School


  • Ava Aquilar – North High School
  • Jessenia Caballero – Burncoat High School
  • Clara Dewar – St. Peter Marian High School
  • Katrian Nevarez – University Park Campus School
  • Derek Perry – South High Community School
  • Eury Rosario – Doherty Memorial High School
  • Carmen Zuniga – Claremont Academy


  • Juan Adolphe – University Park Campus School
  • Luis Garcia-Nin – Burncoat High School
  • Misael Guzman – South High Community School
  • Kailey Ortiz – Southbridge High School
  • Ashley Peltier-Castilla – north High School
  • Hillary Reyes – Doherty Memorial High School
  • Herlin Rijo – Worcester Technical High School
  • Oscar Rosario – Claremont Academy


  • Katya Campos Avalos – South High Community School
  • Dayanna Calderon – Doherty Memorial High School
  • Kenia Carvajal-Bautista – North High School
  • Bryan Grullon – Worcester Technical High School
  • Carlos Hasbun – University Park Campus
  • Steven Robles – Claremont Academy
  • Jamie Miguel Ruiz II – Burncoat High School

H.A.C.E. was created in 1985 by faculty and staff at QCC, along with business and community leaders in the Worcester community, to raise community awareness of Hispanic culture.

Phi Theta Kappa member, Dathiel Blake receiving the Olga López-Hill Community Leadership Scholarship from Olga López-Hill.