[StBernard] Chalmette High School student wins national award

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Apr 10 08:22:37 EDT 2012

Chalmette High School student wins national award

Published: Thursday, April 05, 2012, 1:37 AM

By Ana Gershanik, Nuestro Pueblo columnist

Jesus Perez, a senior at Chalmette High School, has been awarded the
Hispanic Heritage Foundation's National Youth Award in the science category.
The competition is sponsored by Amgen. He was one of six Hispanic high
school seniors nationwide honored March 3 at the Foundation's 14th Awards
Ceremony in Miami.

The Youth Awards were created by HHF in 1998 as a national leadership
program to identify, inspire, prepare and position Latino high school
seniors who have excelled in the classroom and community in various

After receiving the awards, the students will be funneled into HHF's
leadership cycle, which includes the LOFT (Latinos On Fast Track) leadership
and workforce development program as the students attend college, enter the
work force and make an impact on their community.

"We are thrilled to honor another class of outstanding young Latino leaders
who will certainly make an impact on our communities and workforce as they
move forward in their careers," said Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO
of HHF, at the presentation.

They were selected from hundreds of regional picks chosen from 10,000
national applicants in six categories: business, community service,
education, engineering and mathematics, health care and science. Perez
represented Louisiana's second congressional district, within the Houston

The Puerto Rican-born student came to New Orleans 3 1/2 years ago with his
family knowing little English, but he quickly mastered the language and rose
to become an honors student with a grade-point average of 4.2632 at
Chalmette High School.

"My world changed overnight," he said. That meant switching from Latin music
to jazz; from "arroz con gandules" (similar to rice and beans) to spicy
crawfish. But, he said, he made friends fast and adapted quickly to his new

Perez's family includes his father, Angel, an electrical engineer whose
work brought the family to New Orleans; his mother Ermi, a department
manager at Walmart in Chalmette; and two sisters.

At Chalmette High School, Perez has received several awards for writing and
community service. He is the captain of the varsity wrestling and swimming
teams and the student body treasurer. He is also Key Club treasurer, vice
president of SADD, Mu Alpha Theta vice president and founding member of the
speech and debate team.

In addition, his interest in medical issues led him to work during the
summer at Louisiana State University School of Medicine, Department of
Genetics in the area of gene therapy.

Judo is Perez's favorite sport, and he has been three-time national judo
champion in Puerto Rico (2004, 2006 and 2007) and ranked third in the
Americas in 2005, and served as a volunteer for Special Olympics in that

About his most recent award experience, Perez said it was "absolutely
amazing," as he got to network with many interesting people and met Latino
celebrities like John Secada. His plans include attending Harvard
University or the University of California in Berkeley and being a pre-med
student majoring in economics, with a minor in political science.

For more information on HHF, visit www.HispanicHertitage.org.


Through a community grant from New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation,
Puentes New Orleans is teaming up with award-winning performance artist
Jose Torres-Tama to establish the first Latino Youth Theater Project in
our city.

The weeklong workshop series, which teaches skills in communication, public
speaking, improvisational theater and writing, will take place Monday
through April 13, 4 to 7 p.m., at the Shadowbox Theatre, 2400 St. Claude

The project will culminate in a public performance created by youth
participants on April 14.

This project is free, but registration is required; contact Laura at
504.821.7228 or laura at puentesno.org to reserve a spot.


Ana Gershanik writes about the Hispanic and Latino communities in the New
Orleans area. Send news and events to anagersh at aol.com.

C 2012 NOLA.com. All rights reserved.

More information about the StBernard mailing list