Long Island City, NY—LaGuardia Community College Professor Hector Manuel Fernandez Esq. received the Education Award at the first annual Queenslatino.com Awards 2012. The event was held on Thursday evening at The Museum of the Moving Image to honor leaders in the local Latino community.
“Tonight, we’re all making history. We should all be very proud,” said the evening’s emcee, Telemundo news anchor Ivan Taylor. The award ceremony was the first Latino event the museum has ever hosted.
Prof. Fernandez was recognized for his personal success, and commitment and effectiveness steering Latino students towards a college degree. He teaches business law in the Business and Technology Department and is a faculty member of the groundbreaking Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative at LaGuardia. He’s also a visiting instructor for LaGuardia’s GED program and a visiting business advisor in LaGuardia’s Small Business Development Center.
Before joining LaGuardia, Professor Fernandez ran his own law practice focusing on real estate law and was First Vice President of Retail Banking at Amalgamated Bank.
“As a kid who grew up in Uptown [Manhattan], Hamilton Heights to be exact, it means a lot to me to be able to educate the Latino leaders of tomorrow,” said Prof. Fernandez as he accepted his award. Now an Associate Professor, Fernandez faced much adversity before becoming a successful attorney and academic. He received his GED after dropping out of high school to help his mother financially when his parents divorced, went on to graduate from Lehman College with a B.A. in Political Science and English, and eventually earned his J.D. from the CUNY School of Law.
“Our goal is to integrate all Latinos in the United States so that we can have a fortified voice. So tonight we are not Dominican, Colombian or Ecuadorean. Tonight we’re celebrating the accomplishments and leadership of these fantastic people as Latinos,” said Javier Castaño, the founder and director of Queenslatino.com on the newspaper’s second anniversary.
“We’re honored and proud to have this group of distinguished Queens Latinos here tonight,” said Carl Goodman, executive director of the Museum, “The Museum of the Moving Image is here to serve the Queens community and the growing Latino community. This event is an example of that.”
Other Queenslatino.com awardees and award categories included former LAGCC board member, Queens County Civil Court Judge the Honorable Carmen Velasquez for the government award. Judge Velasquez was the first Ecuadorean judge in the United States and the first Ecuadorean in the world to be a judge outside of Ecuador.
In addition, Richard La Salle Esq. was awarded the immigration award for his commitment to helping Latinos gain citizenship; Michael A. Heredia of Dignity Memorial received the community service award for offering free safety education to the elderly, abduction escape training to children, and burial support to those without family in the U.S.; Enrique Alvarado, leader of the traditional Colombian folklore ballet group Las Estampas Negras, received the culture award; La Boom Nightclub owner, Pedro Zamora received the entrepreneurship award for establishing the first venue in Queens that caters to all Latin American nationalities and age groups; and the entertainment award went to model, singer, producer Dazz Letellier.
With over 20 years experience in media and journalism, Javier Castaño launched Queenslatino.com in June 2010. It is a weekly paper available in print and digital form, circulating 10,000 copies a month for free.
At the time an independent journalist, Mr. Castaño had previously been a founding member and editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language newspaper Hoy New York; and managing editor of El Diario La Prensa, the oldest Spanish-language newspaper in the United States. He has also reported for the New York edition of El Tiempo and the New York Daily News.
In addition, he authored the book “New York Colombiano”, which chronicles the wave of Colombian immigrants to certain areas of Queens and their contributions to those communities.
The event came complete with a performance by Las Estampas Negras; and keeping with the postmodern spirit of the museum, fun activities like psychic readings, photos with a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and even a mime were included. It also brought together herds of local empresarios; such community leaders as the Queens Public Library and the Queens Botanical Gardens; and corporate sponsors included Con Edison, Sheraton Hotels, AARP and New York Life.
• • • •
LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.