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They sat huddled quietly at a table, almost invisible among the hundreds of other people standing around talking and laughing loudly, some dancing as they waited for the 2013 Diamante Awards to begin.
Despite appearances, it’s possible no one was more excited or grateful than Martin, Maria, and their 20-year-old daughter, Maria Figueroa, to be in attendance at the event at Lourdes University.
Maria Figueroa was among 31 northwest Ohio students who received college scholarships during the event. Several community leaders and organizations also were recognized for their contributions to the Latino community.
“I’m very proud of my daughter,” the Spanish-speaking Mr. Figueroa said. “We’re very happy and feel very blessed.”
His daughter, a junior at Bowling Green State University studying to be a nurse, explained that despite the family’s best efforts, they hadn’t been able to raise enough money to send her to college this fall. The scholarship was a “godsend” that enabled her to continue, she said.
“My parents have always been so supportive,” she said. “They’ve always encouraged me to study hard and wanted to go to college. That’s why I’m so thankful tonight for this scholarship.”
The Diamante Community Awards were founded in 1989 by IMAGE of Northwest Ohio, a local chapter of a national nonprofit organization. Longtime community leader Margarita DeLeon spearheaded the effort.
Toledo Councilman Adam Martinez, who attended the event, said the Diamante Awards is a great way to invest in Northwest Ohio’s community. Providing scholarships for Latino youth provides them with more opportunities, which benefits everyone, he said.
“We need to keep developing new leadership,” he said. “This is a great way of keeping the pipeline open.”
Three people and one organization received Diamante Awards this year, including:
● Corporation/Community Agency/Group: Queen of Apostles School. It has been a staple of excellence for many Latino families in South Toledo for more than 40 years. It remains one of only two original Central Cities Ministries of Toledo schools providing education to Toledo’s inner city youth.
● Latina Youth Leadership (16-21) Years of Age: Natalia de Miguel Annoni. A junior at the Toledo School for the Arts, she has been an active volunteer at El Centro de la Mujer, a center founded by her mother, Claudia, and dedicated to empowering Latino women in the area.
● Latino/Latina Adult Professional: Arturo Quin-tero. An honored Marine veteran, he received three Purple Hearts, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Combat Action Ribbon, and many assorted service ribbons for his two tours in Vietnam. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies and a law degree from the University of Toledo. Throughout his career, has served as managing attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality Inc., executive director of the Toledo Family Health Cen-ter, and associate chief executive officer for Northwest Ohio Psychiatric Hospital. He also served as executive officer to the mayor and commissioner of special projects, and is assistant prosecutor for the city of Toledo.
The Sofia Quintero Arts and Cultural Center is named after his late first wife, Sofia Alfaro Quintero.
● Latino/Latina Adult Leadership: Sesario Duran, 75, Toledo. He spent his youth as a migrant worker, tending farmland in Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Oklahoma. His family went on to buy land in Swanton and started a small-scale farm. After graduating from high school, Mr. Duran served in the Army, then earned degrees from the DeVry Technical Institute in Chicago and the University of Toledo. In the 1960s, he played a pivotal role in forming and shaping the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. He manages the Campaign for Migrant Worker Justice Worker Center and continues to advocate for migrants and immigrants.
The Diamante Latino Scholars Campaign is a collaboration among Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, Owens Community College, and the University of Toledo.
Contact Federico Martinez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6154.