Recognizing Young Leaders of Our Community
Most cultures can agree that it takes a village to raise a child. The Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (LCHCC) takes this to heart as it is evident through the various youth programs it supports.
Initiated in 1992, the Hispanic Chamber was founded by a group of business persons who shared a strong common belief and were interested in developing a support organization for small and Hispanic-owned businesses. Over the years, the Chamber has since grown to more than 300 paid members in Las Cruces, Alamogordo, southern Doña Ana County, Albuquerque, and El Paso, Texas. The diverse membership includes businesses, non-profit organizations, individuals, and students.
In collaboration with the area’s public and private school systems, the LCHCC provides support for initiatives that promote a quality education for our youth, links local business with educational programs, and enhances learning experiences for students inside and outside the classroom.
The Middle School Recognition Program is one of the longest standing events of the Chamber and is the signature program of the Education Committee. The Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber Middle School Recognition Program works with twelve public and private middle schools in order to recognize outstanding achievement by 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. The students must display good character, a positive attitude, high effort in the classroom and demonstrate outstanding altruistic acts. In addition, the nominees must have excellent attendance, demonstrated leadership skills, exemplary role modeling and educational progress. These students are recognized each semester through award ceremonies held at the Doña Ana Community College.
Wendy Zuñiga is a former Middle School Recognition Program award recipient. Moving from Mexico as a young child, she lacked the confidence to succeed. “Every day I remember how much of an impact this award made in my life,” said Zuñiga. “People believed in me and that motivated me.” Feeling blessed and grateful Zuñiga currently serves on the LCHCC Board of Directors where she now has the opportunity to serve as a role model and give back to others.
Named after one of our founders, the Rayo Perez Education Scholarship Program recognizes outstanding high school graduates within Doña Ana County, enabling them to continue their education while encouraging academic excellence. Evaluated on a number of criteria including academic record, honors, volunteer/work experience, and participation in community activities, students seeking a degree at either Doña Ana Community College or New Mexico State University are encouraged to apply.
The 2014 scholarship recipients were David Noel from Santa Teresa High School, Gadsden Independent School District; Taralyn Trujillo from Hatch High School, Hatch Valley Public Schools; and Myranda Armijo-Perry from the Early College High School, Las Cruces Public Schools. The 2015 recipients will be awarded in the upcoming weeks.
LCHCC Workstudy and Internship positions provide college students the opportunity to develop skills that will benefit them for years to come. “Working at the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has enabled me to learn more about all aspects of running a business including accounts payables/receivables, customer service, etc.,” said 2014 scholarship award recipient and NMSU Workstudy student, David Noel. “This has inspired me to eventually own my own business,” he added.
Established in 2011, the Junior Amigo Ambassador Program provides high school students with a unique opportunity to learn leadership and communication skills while serving his/her community and the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Representing high schools within Doña Ana County, Junior Amigos run their own meetings, select which Chamber and community-service projects/activities they will participate in, and learn to make a positive impact on those around them.
Founding member and 2012 Gadsden High School graduate, Raul Muñoz was recognized and received scholarship dollars for his efforts as a Junior Amigo. “My experience with the Junior Amigos helped me stand out among thousands of applicants applying for Cornell University,” said Muñoz. “If a high school student wants to reach out to the community, grow as a leader, and learn valuable skills, the Junior Amigos is the perfect opportunity.”
The LCHCC, MECA Therapies, FirstLight Federal Credit Union, and other community partners have come together annually since 2011 to support Doña Ana County youth through Project Back to School. The initiative not only focuses on providing children with school supplies, but also makes every effort to provide other basic necessities such as socks, underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes and combs.
Our Job to Career Readiness Boot Camps help those seeking employment, wanting a career change or just needing to brush up on or learn current job search techniques. In partnership with Doña Ana Community College, MVEDA, and NM Workforce Connection, we now are hosting special events just for high school audiences.
New this year, is the Latinas in Leadership Conference will provide training for the next generation while supporting and discussing current issues for Latinas and women entrepreneurs and professionals. Latinas between the ages of 15-25 are invited to the full day conference on September 16th. Participants will explore leadership, self-awareness, health and wellness, and more. As a part of these festivities, the LCHCC will hold its inaugural Latinas in Leadership Awards Luncheon. Conference registration and additional information can be found the LCHCC website. Event scholarships are also available.
All of these programs are possible through the support of our volunteers, sponsors, and donors. Anyone interested in supporting and/or learning more about any of these programs may contact the office or visit our website.
The Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is proud to have served the Las Cruces and Doña Ana community for over twenty years, and will continue to support our community and our future leaders.
For additional info:
Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
277 E. Amador Avenue, Suite 305, Las Cruces, NM 88001