skip to Main Content

Youth Awards Program Honors 21 Chicago Leaders

Hispanic Heritage Foundation


 Students Received Grants for Education or Community Project – Macy’s State Street Store Hosted the Ceremony


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On November 9th, 2015, The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) announced the recipients of the Chicago Regional Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards (see names below). Twenty-one local high school seniors were honored for their leadership in the classroom and the community during a ceremony at the Macy’s Herald Square. In commemoration of the 17th anniversary of the Youth Awards, the ceremony spotlighted past Youth Awardees with special guests in attendance. To follow the Youth Awards Ceremony, use the hashtag #YA15.

The Youth Awardees received grants for their education, or to fund an idea or community project to encourage “actionable leadership,” which is HHF’s call to action. Recipients will be mentored by past Youth Awardees as they prepare to attend college and into their careers through HHF’s award-winning Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT) workforce development program. The Youth Awards are taking place in 11 regions across the country with 231 Youth Awardees selected from thousands of applicants. The average GPA for the students is nearly a 4.0.

“We are thrilled to honor yet another class of outstanding young Latino leaders from Chicago who will certainly make an impact on our communities and workforce as they move forward in their careers,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO, HHF. “We also applaud the vision of our sponsors as they share our focus in supporting what we consider priority fields for America. We believe these are the young leaders of today, not tomorrow and frankly, we can’t afford to wait. I will say that after 17 years of Youth Awards, there is no shortage of top, young, Latino talent.”

One of the 21 recipients will receive a special Leadership recognition by the United States Marines for their leadership in the classroom and community. As a United States Marine, you must be able to “lead by example” and “make sound and timely decisions”. The student chosen exemplifies those qualities by maintaining a 3.50 minimum GPA while balancing extracurricular activities and inspiring others.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) will also recognize a teacher with the Hispanic Heritage Innovative Educator Award, sponsored by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence, for his or her achievements throughout their professional career.

After the regional ceremonies, the 231 Regional Youth Awards recipients will be narrowed to one National Youth Award recipient for each of the seven categories and celebrated at the National Youth Awards presentation along with celebrities who are recognized for being role models. National Awardees will also receive a laptop computer and all-expense-paid trip to the ceremony (location TBD).

Additional sponsors of the Youth Awards include Direct Auto Insurance, UPS, and Crowell & Moring LLP. National partners include: Macy’s, The Raben Group, Saber Es Poder, and NCURA. HHF also partners with thousands of high schools, colleges, community organizations, media outlets and business partners on the program.

2015 Chicago Regional Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards Recipients:

Business & Entrepreneurship, sponsored by BBVA Compass:

Gold:    Phillip Aaron Alpern – Lane Technical College Prepatory High School, Chicago, IL

Silver: Sofia Monter – Lane Technical College Prepatory High School, Chicago, IL

Bronze: Sophia Merlino – Benet Academy, Lisle, IL

Community Service, sponsored by Colgate Palmolive:

Gold:    Anna Maria Cossio – Barrington High School, Barrington, IL

Silver: Meliton Chaidez – West Aurora High School, Aurora, IL

Bronze: Genisis Vasquez – Phoenix Military Academy, Chicago, IL


Education, sponsored by Southwest Airlines (Official Airlines of the Youth Awards):

Gold:    Carolina Lobo de Castro – Noble Street College Prepatory High School, Chicago, IL

Silver: Cynthia Ramos – East Aurora High School, Aurora, IL

Bronze: Xiomara Liana Rodriguez – Walter Payton College Prepatory High School, Chicago, IL


Engineering & Mathematics, sponsored by ExxonMobil:

Gold:   Angel Pallares – Homestead High School, Fort Wayne, IN

Silver: Whitney Valtierra – Chesterton High School, Chesterton, IN

Bronze: Mayra Ocampo – Bartlett High School, Bartlett, IL


Healthcare Science, sponsored by CVS Health:

Gold:    Abigail Torres – Benito Juarez Community Academy, Chicago, IL

Silver: Jennifer Lechuga – South Shore International College Prepatory High School, Chicago, IL

Bronze: Jocelyn Ocampo – DePaul College Prepatory High School, Stickney, IL


Innovation & Technology, sponsored by Entertainment Software Association:

Gold:    Saul Sahagun – Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, Chicago, IL

Silver:  Zeinab Albaudem – Elmwood Park High School, Elmwood Park, IL

Bronze: Antonio De Jesus Ruiz – DeVry Advantage Academy, Chicago, IL

Sports and Fitness, sponsored by Hispanic Heritage Foundation:

Gold:    Andrea Mondragon – Elmwood Park High School, Elmwood Park, IL

Silver:  Fabio Cesar – Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Chicago, IL

Bronze: Eleazar Hernandez – Hector P. Garcia M.D. Charter High School, Chicago, IL

# # #

About Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Established by the White House in 1987, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation inspires, identifies, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities as well as promote cultural pride, accomplishment and the great promise of Latinos.  HHF is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization and all support is tax deductible.  Visit Follow HHF on Facebook at on Twitter at @HHFoundation‎.

The Youth Awards is the beginning of HHF’s “Actionable Leadership” cycle as Youth Awardees and other students are tracked, prepped and connected through the Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT) program as they transition from high school, to college and grad school, and into their careers.  Through LOFT, students and young professionals take part in leadership trainings, industry-tailored symposia and workshops; connected and mentored through a network of tens of thousands (aged 17-30); and placed in hundreds of internships, mentorships, fellowships and full-time positions. To join the LOFT Network visit or







Back To Top