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Eastern's Distinguished Latin Americans Award Winners


Written by Este Yarmosh

Willimantic, Conn. - An Eastern Connecticut State University student, a local health services coordinator and a member of the Eastern administration were named recipients of the 2009 Latin American Distinguished Service Awards.  The award ceremony took place on April 22 at 6 p.m. in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library.

latino_winners_image.JPGLeft to right, Eastern President Elsa M. Núñez, José Luis Maldonado, Maria Lazaro, and Carmen Cid, dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences


The awards honor people who provide outstanding service to the Latino community. Honorees included community member Maria Lazaro of Windham; Eastern student José Luis Maldonado of Willimantic; and Carmen Cid, faculty member and dean of Eastern's School of Arts and Sciences.  Carlos Ojeda Jr., a poet, writer and motivational speaker, was the keynote speaker. Music was provided by the Goza Latin Ensemble.

Maldonado, a senior from Willimantic majoring in Communication with a minor in Sociology, was honored for his ongoing involvement in campus and community activities.  He is the president of Eastern's Men Achieving Leadership, Excellence and Success (M.A.L.E.S.) Club. Maldonado has played an important role in reaching out to and helping the community through programs such as Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics, and has served as a mentor for the Positive Steps Mentoring Program with the Windham Public Schools.  He also helped to establish the M.A.L.E.S. Endowed Scholarship Fund.

Lazaro is the coordinator of the "Promotores de Salud Program," a program located in Kramer Middle School on the corner of High and Prospect Streets in Willimantic, part of the Eastern Area Health Education Center (AHEC) that bridges the gap between the Spanish-speaking community and the health care system. Through her leadership, students in the health professions are provided an opportunity to apply their skills and learning. This results in underserved populations receiving needed services they would otherwise not be able to access.

Lazaro was instrumental in encouraging women in the Health Literacy Class at Kramer Middle School to voice their concerns to their community health provider. She also participates as an active member of the health care team, coordinating two primary programs. The first program is a "Lunch and Learn Program" for migrant farm workers that focuses on HIV testing. The second program for women is "De Mujer a Mujer Program."  Forty percent of the women participating in this program have had a mammogram, and 100 percent of the women have been tested for HIV.

Cid is a nationally recognized ecologist who has been a mentor, scholar and leader on campus and in the community and at Eastern. She has presented at 46 seminars in 15 states on topics such as making cross-disciplinary connections in a liberal arts curriculum and developing strategies for infusing science literacy concepts throughout the entire undergraduate liberal arts experience. Cid's work on recruitment and retention of women and minorities in the sciences has earned her national recognition. Her "Urban Ecologist" interactive science kit for 4th-6th graders was part of an award-winning Women in Science Series funded by the National Science Foundation. Cid currently serves as chair of the Ecology Education Odum Award committee and chair of the Board of Professional Certification for the Ecological Society of America, which represents over 10,000 ecologists working in this country. Additionally, she has had a long and distinguished career at Eastern, as a professor of biology and now as the dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.



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