Young leaders honored as ‘Hispanic Pioneers’
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org September 12, 2013 7:07PM
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:22AM
AURORA — They’re the next class that will shape the future face of Aurora.
At the annual Aurora Hispanic Pioneers breakfast Thursday, Alderman Juany Garza, 2nd Ward, honored six young Aurorans — the future Hispanic Pioneers in the city — at La Sierra Banquets.
Ignacio “Nacho” Cervantes, Qocavib Revolorio, Gilberto Chaidez, Rosalinda Nino, Jesse Torres Jr. and Mario Valezquez will be the next to carry on the “wonderful journey from the boxcar camp to the boardroom and beyond,” said Pioneers keynote speaker Gabriella Wyatt.
Signaling a new era for the annual awards, Garza said that this year’s recipients were young adults whose accomplishments, actions and enthusiasm will lead them to be future pioneers in the community. Past award recipients have included military, business, arts and sports leaders in Aurora, as well as Eola Boxcar Camp pioneers.
Cervantes, a senior at Aurora University, said the recognition meant a lot to the entire generation of young Latinos in Aurora. In 2011, at 19, Cervantes became the youngest member to be appointed to the East Aurora School Board.
“We’re breaking barriers that others couldn’t, (and) that others paved the way for us to do it,” he said.
A self-described social activist, Revolorio said that he holds himself to a high standard by surrounding himself with fellow go-getters.
Revolorio, a senior at AU, encouraged other young Latino leaders to do the same.
During her freshman year at Aurora University, Nino co-created the Diamond Sisterhood, a mentoring program for young girls. Nino recently graduated with her master’ degree in social work at Aurora University.
Born in Mexico, Valezquez immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 12. In June 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order which allows people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to obtain a work authorization card, Social Security number and driver’s license. For many, the move meant students could attend college or work toward a career for the first time.
This year, in response to that order, Valazquez started Dream Relay, a project to raise scholarship funds for undocumented college students throughout Illinois.
Valazquez is studying industrial engineering at Waubonsee Community College. Valazquez’s motivation to do well in school is in memory of his brother, sister-in-law and two children, who died in the Claim Street apartment fire in May 2011.
A graduate of Oswego High, Torres Jr. won the 2010 Chicago Golden Gloves for amateur boxing and is working on a master’s degree in business administration.
Meliton Chaidez, accepted the award on behalf of his older brother Gilberto, who attends University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, where he is studying civil engineering.
With other community leaders, Garza started the Hispanic Pioneers breakfast in 2005 as a way to recognize those who have paved the way for Hispanics.
“While many of our events recognize today’s successful Hispanics, we had neglected to recognize those whose courage and tenacity had paved the way for the Hispanics of today,” she said.
Second ward scholarship recipients were: Gloria Galvez, Janell Herrera, Brenda Rocha. Hispanic business scholarship recipients were: Kyle DeVry, Adrian Diaz, Junelly Gonzalez, Yesenia Guerrero, Robert Herrera, Deborah Loera and Tania Perez.