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Published 9/29/2003
Owens, BGSU and UT Collaborate to Support Latino Initiative

Owens Community College, Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo celebrated National Hispanic Heritage Month by recently honoring three Northwest Ohio residents and a non-profit organization for outstanding contributions to the Latino community. The four recipients were recognized during the 14th annual Diamante Awards Ceremony.

Diamante Award winners for 2003 are Irene Mineoi of Toledo, a Toledo Central Catholic High School graduate and a student at St. Olaf College in Minnesota (Youth Leadership Category); Anita Lopez of Toledo, director of Affirmative Action/Contract Compliance for the city of Toledo (Latina Leadership Category); Robert Rodriguez of Toledo, a founder of the Toledo Jeep Hispanic Association (Latino Leadership Category), and Rural Opportunities Inc., a non-profit social service agency for Ohio farm workers (Latino Corporation/Community Agency).

The awards were founded in 1989 by the Northwest Ohio Latino Advocacy Organization to recognize individuals and businesses exemplifying outstanding leadership and exhibiting significant contributions to the Latino community.

" The Owens Community College Foundation is proud to collaborate with BGSU and UT in supporting the Latino community," said Paul Meinerding, Owens Chairman of the Foundation. " Embracing the Diamante Awards initiative is a unique opportunity to impact students' lives through higher education. We look forward to hosting the prestigious event on the Toledo-area Campus next year."

Proceeds from the Diamante Awards will be used to further enhance the three academic institution' s ability to provide educational opportunities for Latinos through scholarships. Approximately $22,000 was raised for this year ' s event, which drew a record-setting crowd of over 400 individuals.

" The 2003 Diamante Awards was a huge success," said Margarita De Leon, Chair of the Diamante Initiative. " I am very thankful to the educational institutions, corporations and Latino community for their supportiveness. Continued dedication on behalf of the Northwest Ohio community will enable this program to elevate its Latino initiatives to another level."

Selection criteria for the award is based upon each recipient exhibiting an ongoing dedication and commitment to improving the quality of life for Latinos within the Northwest Ohio community. Award winners also must display qualities and behaviors of a mentor and leader for area youth and local residents.

Owens serves as Northwest Ohio' s number one choice in higher education for the Latino community. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area Campuses, Owens' Latino enrollment for the Fall Semester is 768 students. In comparison, 445 Latino students are attending the University of Toledo and 542 students are enrolled at Bowling Green State University during the current fall term.

Dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for Latinos, Owens' Foundation recently established a partnership with the Spanish American Organization to create a $25,000 endowed scholarship program. This marks the first Latino-based scholarship to be established through the Foundation. The initial scholarships for the new endowed scholarship program will be awarded beginning Fall Semester 2004.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Northwest Ohio with 26 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 40,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for new college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor ' s degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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