A migrant farm worker, a Harvard MBA, an engineer, a philanthropist, an entrepreneur—these are some of the words that describe Martín Curiel, HSF’s Altruista (the humanitarian), awarded for personifying the spirit of gratitude and the value of giving back to the community. He grew up among some of the most impoverished people in the U.S., migrant farm workers. This environment taught him the values of family, hard work, and per- severance. Martín began his working career at the age of five along with his two sisters and continued in the fields for 19 more years until receiving his bachelor’s degree in engineering before completing receiving his MBA from Harvard University. Today, Martín Curiel is a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting and founder of the nonprofit, Rising Farmworker Dream Fund.
“No matter how tough it gets, I will never surrender,” – This has always been and continues to be Myra Blanco’s motto. Raised in Puerto Rico by her single mother, a devoted nurse, Myra grew up amidst the conservative Hispanic attitude of not expecting much of a child from a divorced home. Against all odds, she graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA and was accepted to every university to which she applied. Her academic and career options altered drastically once exposed to college, where her interest and academic strength in engineering grew. Six years later, Myra earned a Ph.D. in Human Factors Engineering. Not only did she choose a field that is to this day dominated by men, but she succeeded in it. Today, Myra Blanco, Ph.D. is a research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and has been selected as HSF’s Brillante (rising star), for personifying limitless potential.
“The first Hispanic American” are four words that often precede Elsa A. Murano’s name. A native of Havana,Cuba, she was the first Hispanic American to serve as Under Secretary for Food Safety at the USDA. She is also the first Hispanic American, and first woman to serve in her current position as vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University. Dr. Murano achieved her unique version of the American Dream through her personal commitment to education as a means to success. Her professional peers call her the “Cuban Mighty Mouse” because of the innate confidence she has to accomplish her vision. It is because of her demonstrated leadership that Dr. Elsa A. Murano has been selected as HSF’s Inspiradora (the motivator) - personifying the hard work and sacrifice made by Latino families in pursuit of a college education.
Luis A. Colón, Ph.D.was born the eldest of seven children. His father, a farmer and factory worker, received only a fourth grade education. His mother, a seamstress, completed the ninth grade before dropping out to work full time. Both parents had to work hard to provide for their family in the small town of Cidra, located in the center of the island of Puerto Rico. He was the first to graduate from college and did not stop until he completed his Ph.D., which required him to make the challenging decision to leave Puerto Rico and charter the new and unexplained territory of the US mainland. The language barrier, economic constraints and leaving the stability and comfort of his family were Luis’ main obstacles. Perseverance and determination were the very powerful characteristics that kept him going. Today, he is a tenured professor of chemistry at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Through his accomplishments, Luis represents HSF’s Optimista (the optimist), awarded for success achieved through persistence in the face of adversity.
Federico F. Peña
A native of Brownsville, Texas, the Honorable Federico F. Peña earned a B.A. and a J.D. from the University of Texas before moving to Colorado, where he became a practicing attorney. Over the past 30 years, Mr. Peña’s career has crossed from the private sector to the public sector and HSF back again. After being elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, where he rose to become minority speaker, Peña went on to become the first Hispanic Mayor of Denver, a post to which he was re-elected. In addition, he held two cabinet positions during the Clinton Administration as Secretary of the Department of Energy and Secretary of the Department of Transportation. Mr. Peña’s long and distinguished career is what personifies HSF’s Triunfador(the victor), awarded for realizing the ultimate professional achievement and for “raising the bar.”