Hispanic gala highlights service, education

USCISA Montgomery County, Maryland business organization has made a tradition of support for the area’s Hispanic community. At this year’s Executive Hispanic Gala, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director León Rodríguez was recognized for his work and dedication through a public service award while area Hispanic students were awarded with scholarships to be used at state institutions.

For USCIS Director Rodríguez, a resident of the area as well as county attorney from 2007-2010, the public service award is in “recognition of his impeccable record of public service in Montgomery County and for his help in achieving significant community partnerships so that permanent residents learn more about citizenship and the naturalization process,” Lorna Virgill, the gala’s founder, says in a press release.

The Hispanic Gala is designed to bring together stakeholders and organizations that are committed in their assistance of Hispanic youth in attaining a high level of education. For organizers, the event likewise is a tool to build strong and diverse communities across the country of Montgomery and through the state.

New and recent graduates from any Maryland high school or those who’ve obtained a Maryland GED are eligible to apply for the scholarships when attending a state institution in the Spring of the next year. Students must have graduated from high school with a grade point average of at least 2.5 and must demonstrate significant volunteer community service contributions in the last 12 months. Students who are eligible to apply must be U.S. citizens, a resident or a Dreamer—someone who benefits from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Applicants of the scholarship program are required to complete an online application as well as:

  • 500-word essay answering the effects of growing up in a diverse community and how this will affect career choices
  • Letter of recommendation from a school advisor, teacher or professor
  • Letter of recommendation from a community organization

“The 2015 Hispanic Gala Steering Committee is committed in developing highly educated Latino professionals while providing critical financial assistance that will increase graduation rates from post-secondary education,” according to site information.