Eddie and Norma Ramirez have been named the recipients of the 2019 Richard K. Wager Inclusive Champion Award for their work with the Hudson Valley Latino Scholarship Fund in upstate New York.
The award, named after a former Poughkeepsie Journal publisher, honors local businesses or groups that promote diversity and inclusiveness.
The Poughkeepsie, New York couple decided to establish the Hudson Valley Latino Scholarship program in 1999 after seeing the few Hispanic students who were on the high school honor rolls throughout the Hudson Valley area in the newspaper.
Now, the U.S. Army veteran and retired Poughkeepsie teacher say they have 142 children: two biological sons and 140 students they’ve supported throughout the Hudson Valley for over two decades, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Eight to 10 students a year are recognized through the program to honor their accomplishments. They receive a plaque, flowers to give to their mothers and a $500 to $1,000 scholarship that’s required to go toward a college education.
“My Latino children are not all pregnant and dropping out of school,” Ramirez told the Poughkeepsie Journal. “I want to tell the community that these seniors are at the top of their game with GPAs. I’m going to keep recognizing them because my children still aren’t being recognized like everyone else.”
The scholarship program is funded through sponsors such as United Healthcare and Ulster County Savings Bank and donations by the community.
In order to benefit from the scholarship fund, Hudson Valley Latino high school seniors are required to complete a five-page application which includes an essay with community service and academic achievements.
After the application has been submitted, the scholarship committee looks at the student’s transcripts and evaluates which students they believe to be exceptional.
Eddie and Norma Ramirez will receive the award at the Catharine Street Community Center’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast on Jan. 25 at the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center.