The Latinos United for College Education Scholarships (LUCES) 14th Annual Scholarship Gala on Friday, July 19, at The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club in downtown Madison will be a time for joy and celebration as young Latino scholars are honored and proud parents take pictures and shed tears.
“As a mother myself, I feel like this is important that we continue to boost the new generation,” longtime LUCES board member Sayra Jayo tells Madison365. “My favorite part about the LUCES Annual Gala is to see the students get honored and to see their parents [being] so happy. It makes me feel good to see all of these young students advancing on in their educational careers.”
The origin of LUCES began in September 2005, when Pedro Albiter started a small group called Club Mexiquense and worked with small issues involving the Latino community in South Central Wisconsin. In 2011, Albiter applied for federal nonprofit status and changed the name to Latinos United for College Education Scholarships, or LUCES. The LUCES program has continued to grow every year, as well as the number of scholarships and the amount of money they are able to award scholars.
“LUCES has really been able to grow over the years. The annual Gala has grown from that first event at Edgewood College in a room that has the capacity for 100 people to the point where we hold it at the Madison Concourse and have the capacity for 300 people,” Jayo says. “We are very excited how LUCES has grown over the years and we are grateful for all of the community support to help us do so.”
This will be the first LUCES Annual Gala without Albiter leading the way. At last year’s Gala, he announced that he was stepping down as president of LUCES to dedicate more time to his daughter and family after volunteering hundreds of hours over the years developing the organization he founded.
“The board of directors has taken over the organization of the annual LUCES Gala and we are all chipping in,” Jayo says. “Pedro is still, of course, supporting us and guiding us. We’re happy about that. He has done an amazing job with the organization. What started as just one scholarship back then; we can now provide 10.”
The LUCES scholarship recognizes outstanding Latino high school students in their senior year and college students or adult returning students that have completed their GED/HSED who have shown previous involvement in volunteer/leadership or community activities.
The LUCES Annual Gala is a chance to honor those scholars. The theme this year is “Paving the Way for Career Success.”
The keynote speaker this year will be Darryl Morin, president and CEO of Advanced Wireless, Inc. (AWI), which provides unified enterprise mobility (UEM) solutions to corporations, schools and healthcare providers. He is also the former vice president of League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country.
“Attorney Rebecca Lopez will be master of ceremonies and there will be an artistic performance by Mexico Indigena led by director Jesus Avila,” Jayo says. “We are very excited to have him and to see him perform. “
Jayo already got to meet the scholars at a rehearsal and photoshoot leading up to the event.
“It’s nice because we get a chance to meet them before the Gala for the rehearsal. We get to talk to the student and the parents,” she says. “Some of the parents work two/three jobs and they can’t stay all the time with their kids. But they are so happy and proud of their children.”
Tickets are still available for the fundraiser event. Click here for more information.
“It’s going to be a great night. “It’s open to the greater community,” Jayo says. “It’s a fun and interesting event, but it’s also a very worthy fundraiser. It’s all about helping our students.”