CHCI Congratulates the 2010-11 Fellows Class

On Thursday, May 12, CHCI held its graduation ceremony at the Library of Congress honoring its 2010-11 fellowship class. More than 100 people were in attendance. CHCI Chair Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez and Rep. Ben R. Luján provided opening remarks, followed by sponsor remarks from Prudential Vice President of Government Affairs Rex Wackerle.

Prudential, the event sponsor, and the 16 Public Policy and Graduate Fellowship Program sponsors continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to CHCI’s mission of developing the next generation of Latino leaders.  CHCI and the 2010-11 graduating fellows are indebted to these companies for their financial and in-kind donations.

In her welcome remarks, CHCI President & CEO Esther Aguilera stated, “CHCI provides a life-altering experience for these talented young Latinos and a unique access to the American dream. We directly serve more than 1,300 students a year – helping to make their American dream possible and keeping the promise to the next generation.  These fellows reflect the struggles and aspirations of our community and the nation; they come from 12 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 60 percent come from families whose household income is below $45,000, and 75 percent of the fellows are the first generation to go to college.”

Special remarks were given by the U.S. District Court Judge for the U.S. District Court of Columbia, The Honorable Ricardo M. Urbina. The Hon. Urbina spoke candidly about his childhood experiences growing up in a predominately segregated community in New York City facing adversity and discrimination. Despite the challenges, The Hon. Urbina was able to overcome the obstacles and challenges in pursuit of his dream.  His story was an inspiration to both graduating fellows and guests, alike.

CHCI DaVita/Genentech Graduate Fellow Berenice Nuñez recalled the group's collective experiences in her powerful closing speech.  She noted that, over the past nine months, the seven CHCI Graduate Fellows and 13 CHCI Public Policy Fellows experienced tremendous personal and professional growth as they worked in congressional offices, federal agencies, nonprofits groups, and government-related organizations.  They explored the world of policymaking firsthand, and honed their leadership and career development skills through interaction with preeminent legislative role models. They participated in policy summits with members of Congress during the 2010 Public Policy Conference, and met many powerful national leaders, such as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and U.S. Ambassador Ron Kirk—just to name a few.  In closing, she encouraged the 2010-11 Fellows to continue to give back to the Latino community so that the next generation of Latino leaders would have opportunities for similar, life-changing experiences.

Congratulations to the 2010-11 Public Policy and Graduate Fellowship Classes.  CHCI wishes them the best in their future endeavors.