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HACE Celebrates Another Year of Success

November 2022
  • The 2022 HACE award winners
    The 2022 HACE award winners
  • Keynote speaker QCC Alumna Aimee Maldonado
    Keynote speaker QCC Alumna Aimee Maldonado
  • The 2022 HACE Committee
    The 2022 HACE Committee (left to right): Eric Batista, Glenda Rodriguez, Iris Delgado, Déborah González, Dolly Vázquez, Claudia Oliveira de Paiva, Marco Estrella, Gilmarie Vongphakdy, Nelly Medina, and Jerry Maldonado
  • Worcester Youth Poet Laureate Adael Mejia
    Worcester Youth Poet Laureate Adael Mejia

This year’s 37th annual Hispanics Achieving Excellence Awards were held on Wednesday, October 19 and co-hosted by Southbridge Site Leader Jerry Maldonado and QCC alumna Nelly Medina of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. In attendance were Senator Harriette Chandler, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools Dr. Rachel Moranez, Superintendent of Southbridge Public Schools, Dr. Jeffrey Allard, and Worcester City Councilor Etel Haxhiaj, QCC leadership, as well as HACE award recipients and their families.

The HACE awards honor Hispanic/Latinx students who have excelled in arts, academics, athletics, community service, leadership and civic/political engagement. As has been tradition, Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty was in attendance to declare October 19, 2022 as HACE Day in the City of Worcester with an official proclamation.

President of the HACE committee and Director of Community Bridges Dr. Déborah González extended a warm welcome to the attendees.

“To feel incredibly proud of the accomplishments that you made to get to this event tonight is an understatement. The are many ways our HACE alumni have impacted our community locally, nationally and globally. You are making a difference and it's up to you to help others do the same.”

"I have hope when I see what the Latino community accomplished. There’s a poem by Antonio Machado that says, ‘Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.’ Which means ‘Walker, there is no path, the path is made by walking.’ There are people who walked before you that opened the path for you and there are those who will follow behind you. Look forward to the future and remember your past.  Education will open up a future for you,” said QCC President Dr. Luis Pedraja

Special awards were presented by HACE committee member and Coordinator of the Future Focus Program Gilmarie Vongphakdy.

Keynote speaker for the event was  QCC  alumna Aimee Maldonado, a 2010 HACE recipient (and daughter of Jerry Maldonado), who received her juris doctorate in 2020, scored in the 99th percentile for the bar exam. She is now an appeals assistant district attorney for the Hampden County District Attorney’s office.

Aimee revealed that she was not the best student in high school and had trouble during her initial time at college. After being put on academic probation and losing financial aid, she decided to start over at QCC.

“I went from almost failing out of college to getting a 4.0 during my first semester and graduating with honors,” she said.

Aimee went on to get a bachelor's and master’s degrees from Nichols College. 

"The most important lesson I learned is that you are going to fail. And that’s ok. Everyone fails at something at some point. What matters most isn’t whether it happens, it’s what you do after it happens,” she continued.

Another previous HACE recipient was Worcester’s Acting City Manager Eric Batista, who also spoke at the event.

“I was once in your shoes. My family worked hard to give me and my siblings the support we needed to succeed in the classroom. Your families... many of them have sacrificed a lot to give you opportunities to be successful. It's important for you to honor their investment in you by giving your best effort as you move forward. You’re a valuable asset to our city of Worcester,” he said.

Worcester Youth Poet Laureate Adael Meila gave a passionate performance of one of his poems that he wrote during what he described as “very trying times” in an effort to spread a message that we should try harder to understand what other people are going through.