Hispanic Heritage Foundation announces Regional Heritage Youth Award recipients, 3 from Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Hispanic Heritage Foundation announced the recipients of the Regional Heritage Youth Awards this week.

Three recipients out of their new record of 27,000 entries are from the Central Valley.

For over two years, HHF has recognized Latino talent across the country through their awards, but they are much more than that.

"I think the Hispanic Heritage Foundation is to empower and inspire the Latino youth across the country to pursue whatever they would like," said Brenda Camarillo, Manager of Programs at the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Whether you're in High School, College or no longer in school, HHF considers everyone involved in their organization, as they like to say it, a part of their "familiar." One that Brenda Camarillo has been a part of for several years with the goal of helping young Latinos get involved.

"For me personally, it's been a dream working with the foundation because I think it's everything I've wanted to do," said Camarillo, " like making sure my neighbors are getting into these internships and scholarships and getting the jobs of their dreams."

Tuesday night, the last of 10 ceremonies took place, where high school students were recognized for achieving a Regional Heritage Youth Award. Exactly 270 students out of 27,000 entries earned an award. One of them is a Clovis North High School senior.

"I'll be honest, It was a little surprising. They said that number, 27,000, and I thought wow, that is a lot. But it emphasizes the importance of the award and the significance," said Nicholas Melillo.

He was the Bronze recipient in the category of Entrepreneurship.

Alongside him, Paulina Lázaro Alemán was the Bronze recipient in the Education Category.

Belen Gutierrez was the Silver recipient for the Public Service Category.

All three represented the Central Valley.

In Southern California, Itzel Luna was the Gold recipient in the Media and Entertainment category.

Both Melillo and Luna say they're not only excited but feel a sense of belonging while chasing their dreams.

"It was nice really nice to have reassurance that I am going to have this group of people who are going to support me through college, so it was really exciting," said Itzel Luna.

Although the support and award ceremonies is all virtual this year, students and Camarillo say it doesn't change the power of their community. Camarillo says the virtual ceremony was a way to invite more people than ever before.

"We had people from across the world joining us. We had people from Argentina, Peru, Mexico joining us and cheering on their family members," said Camarillo.

Her hope is for more Latinos across the country to take advantage of their resources and learn that no matter where they are in life, they are not alone.
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