Grand Rapids leaders honored by Hispanic/Latino Commission

By Cynthia Price and from the Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights with

The Michigan Hispanic Caucus, the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan (HLCOM) and the Capital Area Cesar E. Chavez Commission presented awards to outstanding Hispanics during its celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in Lansing on Oct. 5.

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationally between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 .

Dr. Juan Olivarez, President of Aquinas College, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. The criteria state that this award will go to “an individual that has selflessly devoted their life towards promoting the Hispanic culture, advocating for inclusion and bettering the community.”
The group’s Arts Award, for “individuals and/or organizations that promote the fine arts through various cultural outlets, i.e. visual, literary, theater, dance and/or music,” went to Elizabeth Nova Lemus of Grand Rapids City High.

Other awards included: Advocate of the Year to Lt. Noel Garcia, Lansing Police Department, Dewitt; Educator of the Year Award to Diana Hernandez, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo; Economic Development Award to Lupe Velasquez, McDonald’s, Kalamazoo; Hispanic Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Jose Yanez, Owner, Full Circle Financial Planning; International Entrepreneurial Award to Ricardo Vazquez Orozco, Mexico City, Mexico; and Legislator of the Year Award to Senator Roger Kahn.

In addition, $500 scholarships were awarded to: Cruz Aleman, Arthur Hill High School, Saginaw; Julian Cuadrado, Arthur Hill High School, Saginaw; Ivan De Jesus Martinez, Pontiac Academy, Pontiac; and Petra Torres, Dowagiac Union High School, Dowagiac
To learn more about the Hispanic/Latino Commission, visit

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