Hispanic Heritage Awards

Hispanic Heritage Awards Honor Exceptional Students and Teacher
Posted on 10/30/2020
Virtual Meeting

Each year, the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County holds their Hispanic Heritage Awards Celebration at the WPTV channel 5 studio to formally recognize School District of Palm Beach County high school students and one Hispanic teacher.

District high school principals nominate seniors for the Chamber’s awards, which honors their exceptional academic records. Hispanic community leaders and WPTV hosts are on hand to lead the recognition. Due to COVID-19, this year’s ceremony took place online in virtual mode on October 28.

“For the past eight years, this event has been held live at WPTV Channel 5, and normally we have had the participation of 200 to 300 people, including the families, members of the community and the School Board,” said Juan Pagan, President of the Chamber.

Juliana Riveros was one of the student award recipients. Originally from Colombia, Riveros has been in the U.S. for six years, and attends Suncoast High School. She is on track to graduate with an IB Diploma, and plans to attend the University of Florida.

“I want to thank my parents and my teacher Ms. [Angelina] Gallesi-Schmitt for the emotional support since freshman year,” Riveros said. “I struggled a lot, feeling like I didn’t belong here in the school with my peers, but I was able to overcome that and now I want to help other Hispanics who may be going through the same thing, so that they can feel that they belong and that they are part of the community.”

Jasmine Calderon from Pahokee High School also received an award for her outstanding academic record. “I want to thank my parents, my mom who is working very hard and my dad who always works hard in order for me and my sister to have a better life,” she said. “Of course, I’m also grateful to my School Counselor Ms. [Enid] Cochran who I love very much and we all call mother.”

Susana Carlino, a Social Studies teacher at Conniston Middle School, earned the Teacher Award. She has a reputation for being an exceptional educator who works with the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) community. She is known for putting in extra hours at her school, mentoring her students, offering assistance whenever any child is in need, and truly caring for her students and their families.

Carlino also runs the school’s Multicultural Club and helps students obtain community service hours. She is passionate about her job, and is always advocating for her immigrant students.

“I need to give a very special thanks to all my ESOL students and also to their amazing families,” Carlino said. “My children, as I call them, challenge and inspire me every day. I always say to my students, make sure that you go out and show your values to this amazing nation and to the world. Although things are more difficult for us, show [the world] that we can do more and become whatever we want to be.”

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