Promoting Hispanic education, recognizing achievement

By

Jerry Gonzalez

A 32-year Arizona State University tradition continues as nearly 400 Hispanic students will take the Wells Fargo Arena stage on Saturday to be recognized for achieving their academic goals.

Local TV reporters Karla Navarrete and J.R. Cardenas will emcee the Spring 2016 Hispanic Convocation — an always festive celebration that draws the largest per capita number of graduation-ceremony guests and concludes ASU’s commencement activities for the semester.

ASU alum and former U.S. Representative Ed Pastor is also expected to attend this year’s convocation to present his namesake award, said Rhonda Carrillo, assistant director for the ASU Office of Community Relations.

“We’re very honored to have Mr. Pastor presenting the outstanding graduate award and proud of all the graduates’ academic success,” said Carrillo. “Our projection is that over 4,000 family members, friends and supporters will be on hand to celebrate their achievements.”

The convocation will also honor two outstanding students who have demonstrated scholastic excellence and leadership during their academic journey at ASU. 

The recipient of the Ed Pastor Outstanding Graduate award will be Katie Curiel, a master's in global technology and development major from the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. The other honoree is Grace Ordonez, who will receive the Cecilia Esquer Outstanding Undergraduate award. She’s graduating with a bachelor's in accountancy from the W. P. Carey School of Business.

portrait of Katie Curiel

Phoenix native Curiel (left) made her mark at ASU through involvement in countless initiatives, to include being the founder of Women on the Move, an international network supporting Arab women to be empowered and find success in the U.S. and in their home countries. She also served on the advisory boards for ASU’s Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute and DREAMzone — a program that helps undocumented students.

Curiel also interned with the U.S. Agency for International Development, helping to establish the world's first online platform for innovative global development initiatives. She mentored more than 20 of her sisters in Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority both locally and nationally. Through the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, she also mentored two Ugandan women. Despite managing work and school while sustaining significant community involvement, Curiel maintained an impressive 3.9 grade-point average and garnered various scholarships and awards during her time at ASU.

“As someone who works closely with Katie on several projects, I’ve seen the impact she has on the lives of students and community members,” said Davier Rodriguez, coordinator for the Downtown Phoenix Campus Dean of Students Office. “She is a living representation of all that ASU celebrates in its rankings and recognitions; a global leader, change agent and scholar.”

Scottsdale Community College transfer Ordonez (left) is the founding president of the Pre-Law Society at ASU. By working with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the W. P. Carey School of Business and various ASU alumni, the Phoenix native built recognition, support and connections for the group.

In addition to amassing numerous scholarship and awards, Ordonez maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA and gave selflessly of her time by mentoring more than 100 students in rigorous accounting and economic courses. She also produced a series of YouTube tutoring videos to provide an around-the-clock assistance platform reachable by other students across the U.S. and abroad.

“Grace immediately distinguished herself as a superior student,” said Nancy Cassidy, senior lecturer with the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Grace’s strong commitment to academic excellence, an impeccable work ethic and high standards of personal integrity make her not only an outstanding individual, but also a student who has earned the respect of her peers and professors alike.”

Just over 2,100 Hispanic students graduated this semester, according to university statistics.

The ASU Hispanic Convocation is a signature event that honors the accomplishments and commitment of ASU’s Hispanic students pursuing higher education.  Participation is open to all students graduating in the current semester. This semester’s convocation begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday May 14, at Wells Fargo Arena on the Tempe campus.