SAN MARCOS — The North County Latinas Association, or NCLA, kicked off National Hispanic Heritage Month by recognizing nine of the region’s most exemplary Hispanic women Oct. 3 as Latinas of the Year at an annual awards ceremony located at and co-hosted by Cal State San Marcos.
“There’s so many women in our community doing so much good work,” NCLA President Lisette Lasater said. “They’re outstanding role models and we’re here to honor them.”
Each of the women were given certificates of thanks from the NCLA, Sen. Mark Wyland and Congressman Darrell Issa and were treated to an award luncheon the following day. The recipients were selected on the strength of their community involvement and their furthering of the NCLA mission of empowerment and advancement of young Latinas through education and service.
The nine honorees were
nominated by co-workers without their knowledge, and their selection generally came as a complete surprise. Honoree Lydia Bustos took the news with a humility typical of all of the recognized Latinas.
“It was a very pleasant surprise,” Bustos, who runs the charities program for the Vista Wal-Mart, said. “I never expected this. I almost feel kind of bad. I don’t feel like I even deserve this because this is just being part of your community, you know? Just giving back.”
“I was really honored that they called me and said they elected me to be one of the (recipients),” Rosa Ruiz, who is a on the board of directors for the Escondido Development Center, said. “There are so many women who really deserve it more than I do … but I guess this was my turn,” she said with a laugh.
With a 24.7 percent Hispanic student population, Cal State San Marcos has had a long history of cooperation and collaboration with Hispanic groups. University President Katherine Haynes spoke proudly of her school’s involvement with the NCLA and other Latin organizations and gave praise to the honorees.
“It is so empowering to be in the company of so many bold and talented and energetic Latinas,” Haynes said. “To the students … I hope that they are as inspired as I am by these nine role models, and I hope that students then can follow in your footsteps, see their dreams fulfilled, and, as you have done, give back to their communities.”
The NCLA used the event to announce its next project, a series of four health and education mini-conferences made possible by a $10,000 grant from the Tri-City Foundation. These workshops are directed at middle and high school children as well as their mothers and will focus on diabetes, breast cancer, obesity and other health issues. Minerva Gonzales, past president of NCLA, said the nine luminaries had already been tapped as the logical choice to help organize them.
“They’re already visible in the community, and they already have connections,” Gonzales said. “What better way to promote the mini-conferences?”
More information on the Latinas of the Year or the NCLA can be found by visiting www.sd-ncla.org/ or by calling (760) 752-9530.