Written by Gabrielle Little
Willimantic, CT - Julisa De Los Santos, an Eastern Connecticut State University
residence hall director; John Torres, president of the Bridgeport Caribe Youth Leaders (BCYL) and Eastern student Federica Bucca '13 received the University's 2013 Cesar Chavez Distinguished Service Awards on April 24 in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library.
The Cesar Chavez Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have performed extraordinary service in support of the Latin-American community by either developing or contributing to programs or activities that focus on positive development of minority youth and/or foster minority educational opportunities and advancement.
Keynote speaker John Torres received the award in the community category. Torres has served as the president of BCYL since its beginnings in 2003. He has spearheaded numerous educational programs for the organization, including the Caribe Youth Saturday, an SAT preparation program; the Team Reading Power Program, a reading and writing program; and the Honors Program for students receiving recognition for outstanding academic achievements at their schools. Torres received President Barack Obama's Community Leader Award, for his exemplary services and contribution to the BCYL program. "Chavez helped educate and provide farmers with an environment that wouldn't violate their basic human rights. That's one of the reasons why I do what I do; to help educate our youth the way Cesar Chavez did with the National Farm Workers Association."
De Los Santos received the award in the faculty/staff category. As a hall director, De Los Santos oversees approximately 255 residential students. "I have found Julisa to be committed to enhancing the cultural climate among students, faculty and staff. She provides direct mentorship and advising to countless students, particularly underrepresented students," said Walter Diaz, Eastern's dean of students. De Los Santos has contributed to the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), the Nation Association of Social Workers (NASW) and Eastern's Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS).
Bucca '13, a sociology major from Hartford, received the award in the student category. Bucca serves as a site coordinator for Journey House at Natchaug Hospital, where she recruits volunteers from Eastern's student body, and creates activities to help increase self-esteem for teenage girls with emotional and behavioral issues. She has dedicated more than 100 hours to work directly with students at Windham Middle School, North Windham Elementary School and Windham High School. Bucca has also showcased her work with the Puentes al Futuro tutoring and mentoring program at the Intercultural Strategies in Civic Engagement Conference.