The 31st annual closing ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month took place on Monday, November 2, 2020, at 4 pm via Zoom. The Awards ceremony marked the end of a month-long celebration that served to celebrate, inspire and connect Latino students, leaders in the classroom, and the community, honoring the University’s Latin American and Hispanic communities while celebrating cultural pride.
“We truly embodied this year’s National Hispanic Heritage Month theme, which was “Be proud of your past, embrace your future,” said Angel Gonzalez, program manager for SBU’s Center for Inclusive Education. Due to the challenges of COVID-19, the Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee was faced with the daunting task of developing engaging programming that celebrated their rich culture in a virtual format. “Thanks to the tireless work of the Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee,” said Gonzalez, “all events were both well-attended and well-received.”
Keynote speaker Mel-Pilar Espaillat, SBU alumna and medical science liaison at Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, gave a moving speech about her professional journey and the importance of mentors in her life and the lives of others. “Without the influence of my mentor, I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today,” said Espaillat. “There were so many times when I thought about giving up, but my mentor kept encouraging me to keep going.” In her inspiring story of courage and resilience, she challenged her audience not to give up when times are hard but to keep working toward their dreams and to be proud of their heritage.
Awards were presented to students, faculty and staff for their exceptional accomplishments and contributions to the Hispanic/Latino community here at Stony Brook University.
This year’s honorees included:
The Sanchez Construction Scholarship: Angelina Gill
Latin American & Caribbean Studies Center (LACS) was honored to give this year’s scholarship for Undergraduate Academic Achievement to Angelina Gill, a double major in sociology and Hispanic languages and literature. This award recognized an undergraduate student attending Stony Brook University who has shown outstanding academic achievement, scholarly promise, and service and leadership to the community.
Ana Maria Torres $500 Scholarship: Kiana Lom-Landolfi
This is awarded to a qualified undergraduate student of Hispanic/Latinx descent who shows great potential for making significant contributions to the Hispanic/Latinx community through leadership. This year’s recipient is Kiana Lom-Landolfi, a double-major honor student and SUNY performing arts finalist in the Creation and Curation competition.
Community Service Award: Fernando Amador
This award recognizes a Stony Brook University student who has taken time to serve the Latinx community and whose presence and kindness have positively impacted the University. This year’s recipient is Fernando Amador, a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of History.
Academic Award: Julianna Goyzueta
The Academic Award recognizes a Stony Brook University student who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement in all subjects and is active in the Latinx and campus community. This year’s recipient, political science major Julianna Goyzueta, is a first-generation Colombian-Peruvian immigrant and is very committed to Long Island’s Latinx community.
Leadership Award: Hanna Morales-Hernandez
The Leadership Award recognizes an undergraduate or graduate Stony Brook University student who has assumed a leadership role in any Stony Brook recognized society, club, sorority, fraternity or association that serves the Latinx community. This year’s recipient is Hanna Morales-Hernandez, a fourth-year chemistry doctoral student.
Faculty/Staff Award: Joan Dickinson
The HHM Faculty/Staff Award recognizes a Stony Brook University faculty or staff member who demonstrates outstanding contributions, service, outreach and commitment to the Latinx community. This year’s recipient is Joan Dickinson, director of Community Relations. She regularly works with the Long Island Latinos Teachers Association (LILTA) by supporting both in-person events and summer camps at SBU. This semester she connected them with Women in Computer Science (WICS) for a virtual event that will take place on December 3, 2020.
Las Madrinas Award: Lorena Salcedo-Watson
The purpose of the “Las Madrinas” Award is to recognize a faculty or staff member that has contributed to the quality of life, educational growth and development of Latinx students. The madrina, which means godmother in Spanish, is also a dedicated mentor that has served as a guide in all aspects of student life. This year’s recipient is Lorena Salcedo-Watson, a faculty member in the Department of Art and director of undergraduate studies.
Los Padrinos Award: Lateef Wearrien
The purpose of the “Los Padrinos” Award is to recognize a faculty or staff member that has contributed to the quality of life, educational growth and development of Latinx students. The padrino, which means godfather in Spanish, is also a dedicated mentor that has served as a guide in all aspects of student life. This year’s recipient is Lateef Wearrien, residence hall director of Toscanini College. In his time at Stony Brook University, he has been a significant benefactor to the community.
Latino Faculty Recognition Award: Hugo Benitez-Silva
The Latino Faculty Recognition Award pays tribute to a faculty member of Hispanic/Latinx descent who has genuinely served this academic institution and honors their contributions to the University and the students. This year’s recipient is Hugo Benitez-Silva, associate professor and graduate program director in the Department of Economics. He has genuinely served Stony Brook University for the past 20 years and demonstrated mentorship and leadership to students, staff and colleagues.
— Tamara Gregorian, Community Relations