By Pablo Jaime Sainz
Without a doubt, Barrio Logan is home to many leaders in the community.
Some are young, some are older, but all have the same goal: the empowerment of the barrio’s residents.
There’s Roxana Flores, who spent much of her time last year serving at Paradise Valley Hospital, where she worked mostly with the elderly. A senior at Sweetwater High, Roxana also performs with her school and church troupes, and is heavily involved in ballet folklorico, traditional Mexican dance.
Then there’s Brian Gonzalez, a junior at the Pruess School at UCSD, who’s president of the Outdoor Adventures Club and has led many community service excursions. He also participated in the San Diego Media Arts Center Teen Producers Project this summer.
And there’s parent Angel Prado, who has been a tireless advocate for higher education in Barrio Logan.
These three leaders are part of Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI), a non-profit organization that prepares students for college and offers them support.
These three leaders recently received recognitions at the 2006 San Diego Neighborhood Excellence initiative Awards, an event sponsored by Bank of America.
Brian and Roxana received the Student Leader Award while Prado was presented with the Local Hero Award.
The awards are presented to leaders for their commitment to creating better neighborhoods and a brighter future for their communities. The awards also recognize students with a desire to help build and sustain vibrant neighborhoods.
This is the third year students from BLCI receive the award from Bank of America. Last year, BLCI also received the Neighborhood Builders Award, a $200,000 two-year grant to ensure our ongoing sustainability as we help local kids become the first in their families to go to college.
Prado, who became involved with BLCI in 1996 when his son joined the institute, also received a $5,000 award, which he donated to BLCI to help continue its mission.
“This is a great thing for these kids. It shows that people are going to support them when they go out there and try to make a difference,” Prado said.
Brian and Roxana will work with a Bank of America mentor this year; next summer, they will receive paid internships at the non-profits of their choice.
“I’m grateful to Bank of America for this chance to make a difference in my community,” Brian said.
Bank of America’s Student Leader Awards represent an opportunity for BLCI students to receive real world experience, said Jennie Lange, BLCI’s high school coordinator.
“They’ve given our students positive experience,” she said.
This helps students become familiar with different industries and helps them make a college major decision, she said.
Lange added that Prado is only one of many parent heroes in the barrio.
“We have many unsung heroes in Barrio Logan,” she said. “These are parents who work two jobs, have financial difficulties, but still take the time to get involved in their children’s education.”
Lange said BLCI will use Prado’s $5,000 donation to fund tutoring and after-school programs.
For more information on Barrio Logan College Institute, please call (619) 232-4686 or visit www.blci.org.