Latinos United for College Education Scholarships recognizes promising Latino students

Do you know somebody in the Madison community who is providing outstanding guidance, support, leadership, and support to Latinos pursuing higher education?

Latinos United for College Education Scholarships (LUCES) is seeking nominees for their annual “Educator of the Year” award.

“We’re looking for somebody who is inspiring and guiding students to keep on that path to college,” LUCES founder and President Pedro Albiter tells Madison365. “Someone who has been working with the students, working with the parents and teachers and working with the community on activities or projects that help our Latino students.”

It can be any kind of educator – a teacher, a TA, a guidance counselor, mentor, an administrator or school staff. “Somebody who is really interested in advocating for the Latino students,” Albiter says. “The nominee doesn’t neccessarily have to be Latino, either.”

LUCES is a nonprofit organization that exists to promote and advocate for the higher educational advancement of Latino students and works to ensure bright futures for young Latinos in Wisconsin by providing several merit- and need-based scholarships.

“We’re looking for somebody who is really making a difference in the lives of our Latino students here in Madison,” Albiter says. “We have had some great winners in the past of this award.”

2016 LUCES Educator of the Year Emily Auerbach (left) with Odyssey Project grad Marisela Tellez-Giron
2016 LUCES Educator of the Year Emily Auerbach (left) with Odyssey Project grad Marisela Tellez-Giron

Last year, LUCES honored Emily Auerbach as Educator of the Year for her work with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Odyssey Project. “She mentored Marisela Tellez-Giron, one of the LUCES scholarship winners. We honored her at our last Gala event,” Albiter says.

LUCES is looking for nominees for the award who demonstrate leadership in educational development for Latino students, inspire Latino students to learn and pursue their goals, make a positive difference in the lives of the Latino students and their families, participates in peer coaching or mentoring activities, and engage parents/families in the learning process to enhance student achievement.

The nominations are due on July 7, and the winner will be recognized at the annual LUCES Gala on Friday, July 21 at the Madison Concourse Hotel. They keynote speaker for the gala will be Dr. Ramon Ortiz Jr., interim assistant vice chancellor for the UW-Whitewater Office of Multicultural Affairs and Student Success. Dr. Ortiz facilitated a mentoring workshop for LUCES on March 4th at the Madison College that involved 11 Latino College students, parents and board members.

The 2017 LUCES Gala will recognize Latino scholars for the academic achievement and community service through scholarships sponsored by local business. The Gala will also be a chance to honor 10 new LUCES scholarship winners. Since it started with one scholarship back in 2011, LUCES has been steadily increasing the number of Latino students they have been able to help.

“Last year, we went from 7 to 10 scholarship winners and we gave out $750 scholarships,” Albiter says. “This year, we were able to increase the scholarships to $1,000 thanks to a generous private donor. So we will have 10 $1,000 scholarships.

Albiter says that things have been going very well for LUCES, who are dedicated to closing the achievement gap in south-central Wisconsin, focusing on high school, college, and returning adult students.

“Things are going great with LUCES. We have two new board members and we have a full board now and that will help us fundraise and continue to grow,” Albiter says. “We have board members from many different organizations and from all walks of life. I’m excited about what we will be able to do.”

For more information about nominating someone for “Educator of the Year,” please visit or e-mail [email protected]