“As a Chicana, I have incorporated in my life values what I continue to preserve and apply to my personal, college, and career goals. These values include the importance of family and culture, perseverance, and giving back to the community that has nurtured me through my educational development,” said Ms. Rogel.
She participated heavily in Esperanza’s Hispanic Youth Leadership Program (HYLP), which she credited for helping to keep her future on track. At 15, she and a friend joined HYLP when they attended a meeting as “a way to pass the time”.
“Esperanza has helped me believe in myself and dream big,” said Ms. Rogel. “They have nurtured me since I began high school and introduced me to other great community organizations of which I am now involved that have impacted my educational and personal aspirations.”
State Farm recently granted $15,000 to help fund HYLP. The goal of HYLP is to build resiliency skills, positive identity and self-esteem through a comprehensive positive youth development program. Teens learn how to reduce and prevent risky behaviors while making positive, aspirational choices.
She hopes to use her experience and education to positively impact the futures of young adults in underserved communities the same way Esperanza did for her.
Recent high school graduate Benny González also has big dreams that a Fiesta of Hope scholarship will help him achieve. But he had to overcome severe-to-profound hearing loss in both ears, undergoing cochlear implant surgery to assist with hearing and speaking to those around him.
González, the son of a Puerto Rican father and Mexican-Polish mother, will attend Bowling Green State University in the fall to earn his bachelor’s degree in health science. Driven by his love of sports, González plans to become an athletic trainer or physical therapist.
“I would like to work with urban and city minority and even disabled children so that I can be a good role model to them and show them that they can be whatever they want to be,” he said. “It just takes time and hard work, but it is definitely worth it!”
When relating to his Latino culture, González says that he is more driven and determined because of it. Intertwining the cultures of his Puerto Rican father and Mexican-Polish mother, he was inspired to become a driven, Hispanic role model.
The keynote speaker for the Fiesta of Hope luncheon is Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Ms. Ceja was appointed to her current post just over a year ago. Her role is to work closely with the Latino community and the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics to implement the goals and deliverables under a presidential executive order, and to better align the work of the initiative with the Department of Education’s cradle-to-career agenda. Latinos now represent more than 22 percent of all pre-K–12 students in U.S. public schools.
Prior to her current role, Ms. Ceja served three-and-a-half years as chief of staff to Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter and worked as the senior budget and appropriations advisor for the House Committee on Education and Labor.
Ms. Ceja also has served as a program examiner for the White House Office of Management and Budget, worked for the Indianapolis Private Industry Council and as a Congressional aide.
The California native holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration. She is a graduate of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Public Policy Fellowship, the Presidential Management Fellows program, the National Hispana Leadership Institute and the National Urban Fellows program.
The mission of Esperanza is to improve the academic achievement of Latinos in Greater Cleveland by supporting students to graduate high school and promoting post-secondary educational attainment.