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Awards to highlight Latino achievement

The following article, written by Nolan Rosenkrans, appeared Friday, September 26, 2014 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the contents on The Blade's website.

While Toledo has contracted, its Latino community has grown, making it a larger and more integral part of the city each year.

The University of Toledo will host the 25th Diamante Awards at 6 p.m. today at Premier Banquet Hall, 4480 Heatherdowns Blvd. The event was created to highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of Latinos in northwest Ohio.

Margarita De Leon, co-founder of the Diamante Awards, said she saw a dearth of organizational recognition for Latinos in the Toledo area when she moved here about 30 years ago.

"I looked around and saw different organizations recognizing all types of people, but there was a real void in terms of recognition for what our people were doing," Ms. De Leon said.

This year's winners are:

  • Stephanie Angel, for the Latino/Latina Youth Leadership Award. Ms. Angel graduated from UT this year, and won two first place awards at the Sigma Xi research Symposium for her research on brain tumors.
  • Mary Torres, for the Latino/Latina Adult Leadership Award. She has helped undocumented citizens study for naturalization tests.
  • Gregory Guzman, for the Latino/Latina Adult Professional Award. Mr. Guzman was the first Latino university president in northwest Ohio when he led Herzing University. He now is the director of the Central City Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo.
  • Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, for the Corporation/Community Agency Award. Both groups provide legal aid to low-income people in the region.
  • Dr. Richard Paat, for the Friend of the Latino Community Ward. Dr. Paat has provided free health care to the area's Latino community for 15 years, as well as in Guatemala and Honduras.

Diamante — which means diamond in Spanish — doesn't just give out awards. The group has provided more than $1 million in scholarships to Latino youths since 1990, and has set up scholarship endowments at UT, Owens Community College, Bowling Green State University, Lourdes University, and Herzing.

The awards take place during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.