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Flores, Orozco, others receive Diamante awards; students recognized

By Rico Neller

Sept. 12, 2008: Owens Community College hosted the 2008 Diamante Awards gala—which recognizes individuals and organizations for their achievements and service to the Latino community in the Metro-Toledo area—at its Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

Keynote Speaker Greg Guzmán of BGSU recognizes scholarship recipients at Diamante Awards Gala

Gregory A. Guzmán, Director of Student Financial Aid at Bowling Green State University, was the Master of Ceremonies and Keynote Speaker. Guzmán is a Toledo native and is the only Latino director of student financial aid in Ohio.


According to the Diamante Awards 2008 Program Booklet, Guzmán “discovered a passion for helping college-bound students overcome financial barriers as an intern for U.S. [Congresswoman] Marcy Kaptur (9th District, Ohio) and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.”


His résumé includes being a financial-aid counselor at Owens Community College and Director of Student Financial Aid at Tiffin University, followed by directing student financial aid at Lourdes College and Bowling Green State University.


Guzmán is a graduate of Bowling Green State University (B.S. Degree in Journalism and M.A. in Public Administration); he is currently working on his Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of Toledo.

Remarks were presented by: Dr. Shirley Baugher (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, BGSU), Dr. Rosemary H. Haggett (UT, Provost), Dr. Robert Helmer (Lourdes College President), and Paul Unger (
Executive Vice President and Provost, Owens Community College). 


Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop and Ohio Senator Teresa Fedor also recognized the event’s recipients.


Diamante award recipients

César Hernández (Diamante nomination awards chair) presented the awards to the 2008 award recipients:

Remarks were presented by Dr. Shirley Baugher (Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, BGSU), Dr. Rosemary H. Haggett (UT, Provost), Dr. Robert Helmer (Lourdes College President), and Paul Unger (Executive Vice President and Provost, Owens Community College) at Diamante Awards Gala of Sept. 12, 2008. Also, Luis Rivas is seated second from right.

1) Oriana Orozco, Toledo, a junior at Lourdes College, who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in marketing. She will receive the Latina Youth Leadership Award. A former recipient of the César Chávez Humanitarian Award and numerous scholarships, Ms. Orozco is a leader within the Latino student community at Lourdes College.


In 2007, she was elected President of the Lourdes College Latino Student Union (LSU), a role in which she still holds. Through fundraisers, the LSU has raised substantial dollars for migrant families throughout Northwest Ohio.


Orozco is active in Lourdes’ “Get in the Game New Student Orientation Program” and volunteers at various campus-sponsored events, including Latino Career Day and the College’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Additionally, she volunteers at Washington Church as a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) Nanny.


2) Albert Flores, of Toledo will be named the Latino Adult Leadership Award recipient. Flores’ commitment to the area youth of Northwest Ohio has spanned over 33 years of dedicated service.

As a school teacher at Libbey High School, Flores continuously stresses to his students about the importance of a college education. From guiding students through the FAFSA application process to advocating and guiding individuals through scholarship opportunities at area academic institutions, Flores gives tirelessly of his time to help them achieve academic and career success. In addition to teaching, Flores serves on the EXCEL board at The University of Toledo and recently began tutoring University student-athletes.

UT's Mark Pickett recognized by César Hernández, Chair of the Diamante Nominations Committee.

3) Mark Pickett, of Fremont, Professor of Civil Engineering at The University of Toledo, will be named the recipient of the Friend of the Latino Community Award. Picket has been a longtime advocate in creating opportunities for students who face great challenges in their education pursuits, especially children of Latino migrant workers. His devotion to education includes spending countless hours planning, gathering resources and assembling an array of educators to reach those individuals in need of assistance.


Recognizing the tremendous educational challenges facing children of Latino migrant workers as a result of repeatedly relocating to new schools, the loss of a stable learning environment and mentor relationships, Pickett decided to create an educational program that meets the needs of these individuals, as well as a program that teaches the students’ teachers. Among the program highlights include the students’ participation in The University of Toledo’s Latino Student Summit.


Pickett’s leadership goes beyond his organizing and teaching initiatives as he works tirelessly to secure funding for these programs from agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the Ohio Department of Education, which enables teachers to participate in the educational program free of charge. His program also advocates that the educators give back to the community by teaching migrant students in satellite schools throughout Northwest Ohio.

Luis Rivas accepts award for Chrysler

This year’s recipient of the Corporation/Community Agency Award was The Chrysler Foundation, which has served as event sponsor of the Diamante Awards for the past four years. The Chrysler Foundation’s commitment to the event sponsorship now totals $60,000.

Jeep Plant Manager Luis Rivas accepts the Diamante award on behalf of the Chrysler Foundation, from Chair César Hernández.

In addition to the event sponsorship, The Chrysler Foundation had requested that $5,000 of the annual sponsorship be matched by the participating higher education institutions resulting in $40,000 in direct scholarships to students. The Chrysler Foundation’s support has had an impact of $100,000 for the past four years.

Toledo Jeep Assembly Plant Manager Luis Rivas accepted the award for The Chrysler Foundation.


How recipients are chosen

Diamante Award recipients are chosen based on “recognition of exemplary leadership/achievements within the Latino community or community at large, or demonstrated excellence in their fields; dedication and commitment in an ethical and inclusive fashion, and modeling qualities and behaviors of a mentor for youth and the community.”


The identities of the members of the Diamante Nominee Committee have not been reported by the four institutions that host the awards, other than the identity of its nomination chair, César Hernández


The 2008 Diamante Planning Committee is comprised of: Jodi Bixler, Marna Cousino, Alexia De Anda, Michelle Dockins, Cleveland Henderson, César Hernández, Veronica Herrera, Connie Konzen, Laura Moore, Debra Morales-Richards, Elisa Rodríguez, Irene Salazar, Ann Savage, David Winchowski, Connie Weaver, and Elyssia Yado of Owens Community College; Cecilia Rivera of the University of Toledo; Kelly Dilworth of Lourdes College; Margarita De León of Kaleidoscope Group; and Sharon Muldon of V/Gladieux.


The annual Diamante event has been hosted by Owens Community College, Bowling Green State University, Lourdes College, and The University of Toledo since 2001, but was founded by the former northwest Ohio Latino advocacy organization IMAGE in 1990 to “recognize individuals and organizations in the local Latino community for their outstanding contributions, and to recognize the impact of Latinos on U.S. culture and society. The initiative includes providing scholarships and other support to make it possible for Latino students to attend college.”


The first Diamante awards were present in 1990 to: Judge Joseph A. Flores, Dr. Thomas López, Jesús Güel, María Güel,  Sandy Barrientos, and Hernan Vásquez.


Scholarship Students Honored

In addition to the four Diamante awards, scholarships were presented to over 40 students from Owens Community College, Bowling Green State University, Lourdes College, and The University of Toledo – the four Northwest Ohio institutions whose partnership in the awards program benefits their Latino students.


Keynote speaker Greg Guzmán recognized the student scholarship recipients.

Hernan Vásquez, Lourdes Santiago, and Diamante Award recipient Albert Flores (Libbey High School).


The students included:

BGSU Diamante Foundation Scholarship: Michelle Bologna, Rose González, Jacqueline Hernández, Nathan Olmeda, Jessica Vázquez, and Chris Ybarra.


Chrysler Foundation Diamante Scholarship: Casey Arroyo (Owens), Henry Casiano (Owens), Jessica Jaimes (BGSU), Orlando Vega (UT), and Sandy Villanueva (Owens).


Diamante Image Latino Scholarship: Mary Campbell, Raúl Cárdenas, Paul Escabalzeta, Manuel Mendizabal, Christina Rodríguez, and Rebecca Rodríguez (all of UT).


Lourdes General Diamante Scholarship: Theresa Flores-Litogot, Margaret García, Lauren Guzmán-Dresher, Maribel Martínez, Andrea Preciado, and Nicole Reyes-Whitt.


Lourdes College Diamante Endowed Scholarship Fund: Valentin Ballesteros, Brandee Mendoza, and Joanne Reinhart.


National City Bank Diamante Latino Scholars Fund: Jennifer Clark (Owens), Paul Escabalzeta (UT), José Luis Jiron (UT), Erik Soto (BGSU), and Audrey Wildman (UT).


Owens Community College Foundation Diamante Latino Scholarship: Anea Escamilla, AnaAlicia Muñoz, Sandy Villanueva, and Elyssia Yado.


Owens Corning Foundation Diamante Latino Scholars Fund: Lydia Coca (UT), Jocelyn Cruz (UT), Anea Escamilla (Owens), Kristen Ickes (Lourdes), Daniel Liendo (UT), Dominique Lucio (Lourdes), María Nevarez (UT), Angela Pérez (UT), María Torres (UT), and Kevin Zamora (BGSU).

Oriana Orozco with her family at the Diamante Gala, Sept. 12, 2008.

Spanish American Organization Scholarship: Henry Casiano (Owens) and Sandy Villanueva (Owens).



According to speaker Guzmán, to date, the University of Toledo has contributed over $80,000 in Diamante Scholarship funds; Bowling Green State University has contributed over $87,000; Lourdes College has contributed over $57,000; and Owens Community College has contributed over $100,000—over $325,000 in scholarship funds since 2001 and over $1,000,000 since 1990.  


Margarita De León was instrumental in joining the forces of these four major institutions of higher learning and gathering the scholarship contributions of these colleges and The Owens Corning Foundation, National City Bank, and The Chrysler Foundation. 



Entertainment was provided by Detroit’s Grupo Azteca.


The event was attended primarily by the participants and award winners, in that the cost was prohibitive to most in the Latino community—tickets were $75 per person or $125 per couple in advance, or $85 per person or $150 per couple on the day of the event—a price that stings in this sagging U.S. economy of 2008.  



Father Notter and group


Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop and Ohio Senator Teresa Fedor recognize the event’s award/scholarship recipients.


Melissa Alvarado

Mary Jane Flores, Margarita De Leon, Mary


Margarita De León with César Hernández

Bob and Sue Salazar


Joe Balderas

Hijas Rosalinda






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