Latino scholars honored

Eighteen McNary High School seniors received $200 each in scholarship money from the Latino Action Committee.

The second annual Latino Graduation Scholarship Celebration took place on Thursday, May 9 at Keizer City Hall with 18 students from McNary High School receiving scholarship recognition.

The recipients were: Ivan Alarcon, Rafael Garcia Andrade, Francisco Ivan Rios Bernal, Jesus Lopez Bravo, Jose Luis Bravo Bravo, Javanie U. Bravo Bravo, Miguel Bravo, Osiris Alvarez Carlos, Yoelin Sanchez Chavira, Yobani Espinoza Diaz, Lorena Arellano Franco, Aracely Plata Gonzalez, Tania Ceja Marquez, Keith Cardoza Nolasco, Eduardo Guadalupe Gomez Rodriguez, Karen Lozoya Salas, Jose Zamudio and Ugo Chavez.

Each student received $200 in scholarship money from the Latino Action Committee (LAC); a group founded by Keizer City Councilor Roland Herrera, Rev. Jose Dominguez and other Latino leaders from Keizer. 

While $200 is by no means an astronomical amount, the LAC is happy with what the contribution represents and that there are people and businesses in the Keizer community that are willing to step up and making a difference for Latino students.

“Many years ago, I received a scholarship that made a great difference in my life,” Dominguez said while addressing the 18 students. “The scholarship that you are receiving today is an investment from people who believe in you.”

The vision of the Latino Action Committee is to manifest Latino participation and representation with the goal of informing, encouraging and supporting Latinos at all levels and educational affairs, particularly in increasing graduation. 

Herrera addressed some of the obstacles that Latinos face in American education, and was pleased that these Keizer kids were able to persevere. 

“We all struggle to get through school, but when you have language barriers and economic and social barriers, it can be more difficult. But they never gave up,” Herrera said. 

The awards and recognition were met with gratitude from the McNary students. 

“It’s a sweet honor to be able to get this scholarship so that I can go to school. I like that people are noticing and paying specific attention to Latinos in their community and helping us get to our dreams,” said Lorena Arellano Franco, who’s attending Willamette University next year to major in biology. 

“I am so thankful for these types of committees to help me reach my dreams. If I could be a part of this in the future, I’d gladly do it so that I could help others that are in my position.”

Dominguez was one of the special speakers at this event and concluded his presentation with three points: be a role model, be involved in the community and include God in your journey. 

“I hope this will be a long standing memory that you will not forget,” Dominguez said. “Now, you are ready to launch out into the real world with God-given talents and abilities.”

 “Be bold and be confident that you will succeed in the next steps of your journey … I hope that this scholarship will give you a new sense of destiny.” 

Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark also gave a brief speech of encouragement. 

“We’re investing in your future, but you’re going to take that investment and you’re going to do great things,” Clark said.

At the conclusion of the event, Clark shared with the audience that the LAC scholarship program was to be named after the Herrera family, specifically in honor Roland Herrera’s brother, Ruben Castilla Herrera — who passed away earlier this year and was a beloved activist in Ohio that was involved with several social justice movements. 

“It blew me away. I was so overwhelmed,” Herrera said. “My brother was an amazing activist. He had an impact on so many different communities.”