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Higher Education in Maryland

October 2008


For immediate release: October 8, 2008

Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511

MHEC nominee earns Hispanic Heritage Award UMBC student is named “Leader on the Rise” by Governor O’Malley panel

ANNAPOLIS, MD (October 8, 2008) – An outstanding student from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) known for volunteerism and commitment to bettering society, recently was chosen to receive a 2008 Hispanic Heritage Award sponsored by Governor Martin O’Malley’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The student, Lucia Zegarra, was tapped to receive the distinction of “Leader on the Rise,” one of 12 outstanding Hispanic Americans to earn such recognition.

Lucia was nominated for the award by Genny Segura, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)’s Senior Education Policy Analyst who also serves as Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr.’s, designee on the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs. Lucia was chosen for her award by nine independent judges on September 24. She will be honored at the Hispanic Heritage Awards ceremony on October 15. Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown have been invited to attend.

“I am pleased that Ms. Segura had the vision to realize that Ms. Zegarra is an outstanding person, student and volunteer and nominated her for this award,” Secretary Lyons said. “MHEC’s commitment to the Governor’s Commission on Hispanic Affairs is strong. Ms. Segura has been an active participant at seminars and forums sponsored by the Hispanic Commission held throughout the State.”

The Commission on Hispanic Affairs was re-established by Governor O’Malley after being abolished during his predecessor’s term. It serves as a resource to ensure the economic, educational, health, political and social well-being of Maryland’s Hispanics. It envisions an active and productive Hispanic community united and empowered to reach its full potential.

Lucia Zegarra is a Peruvian native living in Silver Spring. She is currently a pre-med biology major at UMBC. Her long-term goal is to establish a non-profit organization to provide free bilingual mental and physical health services not only to the underprivileged members of the local community, but also to third world countries.

Since she was nine-years-old, Lucia felt that she could not be happy if others were suffering. In Peru, she visited children’s hospitals every weekend to play with abandoned children. Later she became the coordinator of a social help project for a school confirmation program tutoring children of uneducated parents.

In 2002, Lucia moved to California, and started her volunteer work in the States by volunteering at Tahoe Women’s Services and Hospice. As a domestic violence survivor, she partnered with her mother obtaining a crisis intervention certification to help other women as well as children who witnessed violence.

Lucia moved to Maryland in 2006 and enrolled in Montgomery College. She became a member of the Honors Renaissance Scholars, Latino Student Union and the Student Affairs Board. She was involved in planning fundraising events to benefit the local community as well as students in Central America. She participated in various panels raising awareness for the costs of education, the rising trend of teenage pregnancies and the growing educational needs of Latinos. She also worked with Centro Familia & Community Bridges as a speaker and event organizer for their bilingual conference: Women, Power, and World.

For the past year she has worked for Catholic Charities at a multicultural day program for individuals who suffer from homelessness and mental illness. She leads bilingual, psycho-educational groups to help these individuals succeed through peer support and art therapy.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 326,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.




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