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Hispanics Achieving and Celebrating Excellence Youth Awards Honors 35 Years of High School Students’ Achievements

October, 2020
  • Assistant Professor of Music José Castillo (playing guitar) and QCC students Veronica Morson and Jonathan Duque .
    Assistant Professor of Music José Castillo (playing guitar), and QCC students Veronica Morson and Jonathan Duque provide entertainment at the 35th H.A.C.E. Youth Awards.

For the last 35 years, Quinsigamond Community College has hosted the Hispanics Achieving and Celebrating Excellence (H.A.C.E) Youth Awards. The annual event, held this year on October 21, paid homage to the achievements of public and private Worcester and Southbridge Hispanic high school students in the areas of Academics, Leadership, Arts and Athletics.

This year’s event honored 19 students at a virtual celebration attended by civic and community leaders. To date, 754 students have been honored with scholarship awards totaling $186,950.  The H.A.C.E. Youth Awards were created in 1985 by faculty and staff at QCC, along with business and community leaders in the Worcester community.

QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja told the students about his own success story, describing how he came to the U.S. as a young boy from Cuba and today is a college president thanks to education.

“Education opens doors you never imagined. Everything you hope for and dream about you can accomplish. You are already an example of excellence and the sky’s the limit,” he said. “Never let anything stand in your way, not even a pandemic. Our future depends on you.”

Keynote speaker for the event was nationally recognized youth motivational speaker, Jorge Sierra, a self-change advocate who was left a paraplegic from gang-related violence at the age of 17. Today he is a business owner, and a college student at the age of 44.

“Your decisions design your destiny,” he said, adding, “Education is power.”

Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty gave a citation to the students proclaiming October 21 as H.A.C.E. Day in the City of Worcester and asked students to “come back to Worcester and make it a better community.”

Other words of congratulations were given by Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, Maureen Binienda, Receiver/Superintendent of Southbridge Public Schools, Dr. Jeffrey Villar, and Co-Chairs for the event, QCC’s Director of Community Bridges, Dr. Déborah L. González and Coordinator of the Future Focus Program, Gilmarie Vongphakdy. Entertainment was provided by Assistant Professor of Music José Castillo, and QCC students Veronica Morson and Jonathan Duque.

Special Awards included:

  • Marlyn Reyes Memorial Community Leadership  Award - Liceidy Terrero, North High School, Worcester
  • Dolly Vázquez Cultural Award - Ronnette Cruz, Doherty Memorial High School, Worcester
  • Olga López-Hill Community Leadership Scholarship - Luceily Ortiz, Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester

Academic Awards:

  • Rodolfo Pineda, Doherty Memorial High School, Worcester
  • Nahriyah Alejandro, North High School, Worcester
  • Marlon Oyervide, South High Community School, Worcester
  • Juliana Beaudry, Southbridge High School, Southbridge
  • Isabella Cabrera, Southbridge High School, Southbridge
  • Briana Herrera, St. Peter Marian High School, Worcester
  • Kathy Martínez Domínguez, University Park Campus School, Worcester
  • Isabela Cruz, Worcester Technical High School, Worcester
  • Novian Wright, Worcester Technical High School, Worcester

Arts Award:

  • Ronnette Cruz, Doherty Memorial High School, Worcester

Athletics Awards:

  • Jonathan Mejía Zelayandia, Doherty Memorial High School, Worcester
  • Arlyenis Garrastegui, Noeth High School, Worcester
  • Mariela Mirón Domínguez, University Park Campus School, Worcester

Leadership Awards:

  • Jessica Poyser, Doherty Memorial High School, Worcester
  • Liceidy Terrero, North High School, Worcester
  • Alizea Atherley, South High Community School, Worcester
  • Germania Balbuena Marte, University Park Campus School, Worcester
  • Genesis Bernabel, Worcester Technical High School, Worcester
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