May 5, 2000

Six San Diego County Students Selected as Hispanic Heritage Regional Winners

—High School Students to Compete for the first time in the National Hispanic Heritage Awards Competition

Washington, D.C. — The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation announced today the six high school regional winners from San Diego County who will compete for the National Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards in the foundation's annual search for America's top Hispanics. The students were selected for their accomplishments in their chosen discipline, their potential for leadership, their commitment to community service as well as strength, quality of character and demonstration of how their Hispanic heritage has played a significant role in their lives.

The six San Diego Hispanic Regional Winners will be honored at the US Grant Hotel on May 9, 2000 during a presentation ceremony. Each winner will receive a $1,000 educational grant, and a state-of-the-art personal computer from CompUSA. Additionally, the Foundation will make a $500 donation to a community service organization chosen by each winner.

The San Diego County winners are: Seidy Gaytan, for Academic Excellence, sponsored by the Chase Manhattan Bank. Gaytan will graduate from Sweetwater Union High School this year with a GPA of 4.1 and was selected for California Girls' State Delegate in 1999 and serves as the Senior Class President. Seidy credits both of her parents for teaching her the principles of respect and hard work to reach any goal in life. With education as her life priority, she hopes to pursue a career in science and attend Stanford of UCSD.

Laura Dawn Berumen is the Youth Award Winner for Literature/Journalism sponsored by NBC Television Division. She has been recognized by her Creative Writing teacher at Montgomery High School as the most phenomenal talent he has seen in 30 years. Laura also finds the time to be involved with the School Site Council, School Leadership Team, Academic League and MEChA. Her grandmother's stories have inspired her to seek truth and justice for others, whether this be as a lawyer, writer, anthropologist or politician.

Abel Aramburo is the Youth Award Winner for the Arts, sponsored by Dr Pepper. Active at El Cajon Valley High School in football, wresting and theatre, he has found inspiration to improve not only his own condition, but also that of his community. Abel presently is an active Explorer Cadet in the United States Border Patrol program and hopes to someday serve his community as a police officer. His greatest accomplishment so far was when his performing arts group, "Teatro Meta," was chosen to perform at the Old Globe Theatre, but he looks forward with even greater pride to being the first person in his entire family to graduate from college.

Milenka V. Meneses is the Youth Award Winner for Leadership/Community Service, sponsored by the Fannie Mae Foundation. Her zeal for public service is evident in the time she spends helping her mother with community outreach work and after-school tutoring programs at San Marcos High School. Through her preparation in AVID classes she is strongly dedicated to pursuing the college education that will allow her to accomplish her altruistic goals, and more importantly perhaps, inspire others to pursue their as well.

Jose Barraza Jr. is the Youth Award Winner for Science and Technology, sponsored by Microsoft. Barraza currently has a 4.72 GPA, ranking second in his senior class at Hilltop High School, has taken 13 advanced placement exams, achieved early acceptance to MIT and does regular work with the "Caritas del Sol" Mexican Orphanage Group. He is planning his biochemistry major which will allow him to be an ophthalmologist. Barraza was inspired by the Upward Bound Science Shadow program where he participated in an HIV mentorship at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies.

Danika Marie Lacarra Markey is the Youth Award Winner for Sports, sponsored by Denny's. Described by her educators as a "strong and smart worker," she has embodied these characteristics through successful service in her position as ASB secretary. Soroptimist Club, Peer Mediator, volunteer worker at her local parish school and counseling secretary at Helix High School. Besides being selected for Girls State and achieving a GPA of 4.1, she counts attending school in Mazatlan for her 9th grade year as one of her most memorable achievements. She hops to attend college and pursue a career in either Law or Sport Medicine.

In June, six National Winners will be selected from the pool of 60 regional winners. The 6 National Winners will travel to Washington, D.C. with a parent or guardian, where they will be recognized at the annual star-studded Hispanic Heritage Awards Gala on September 7th at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The Hispanic Heritage Awards will be broadcast nationally as a television special on NBC, Saturday, September 9, 2000. The Youth Awards program began in 1998 under the sponsorship of the Fannie Mae Foundation, and originally included students in five cities. This year marks a dramatic increase in the value of the prizes to be awarded and the addition of two new cities — San Diego and Dallas — bringing the list of eligible cities to ten: Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, and San Diego.

The Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation was established fourteen years ago to promote Hispanic excellence, provide a greater understanding of the contributions of Hispanic Americans in the U.S., and to recognize and award role models that inspire our youth.

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