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Published: Thursday, 7/29/2004

Diamante Awards to celebrate 15th anniversary

BY CLYDE HUGHES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The Diamante Awards, which has grown into the largest area event at which scholarships are awarded to local Latinos, will celebrate its 15th anniversary with Lourdes College and the Medical College of Ohio signing on as partners.

The two institutions join the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, and Owens Community College as sponsors of the annual event and have committed, like those schools, some amount to Hispanic scholarships.

"I don't know of another coalition like this in the state," said Margarita DeLeon, who has spearheaded the effort to bring the schools together. "Usually, institutions are competing with one another for scholarship dollars and students. This is a unique situation where they have come together to offer Latino scholarships."

The Diamante Awards were founded when Ms. DeLeon was an officer in the organization IMAGE of Northwest Ohio in 1990. The awards have grown from humble beginnings at St. Clement's Catholic Church hall to Owens Community College's new Center for Fine and Performing Arts in Perrysburg Township on Sept. 10.

Officials at Lourdes and MCO said their schools were interested in attracting more Latino and other minority students and making their campuses more diverse.

"We were talking to [Ms. DeLeon] about how we could reach the Hispanic community just in general, and we started to look at the Diamante Awards," said Mary Arquette, Lourdes vice president for institutional advancement.

Ms. Arquette said she found Lourdes' value-based education a real fit for many in the Latino community, and working to attract more Hispanics would benefit the Sylvania college. She said the institution will make $18,000 available for Latino scholarships and host the Diamante Awards next year.

She said Lourdes has 35 Hispanic students attending classes now, comprising about 3 percent of its student population.

MCO officials said joining the Diamante Awards will help the college increase its visibility among Latinos.

"It's part of our effort to reach out to different parts of our community," said Lawrence Burns, president of the MCO Foundation. "This was also an opportunity for us to work together with the other institutions."

Chasity O'Neill, coordinator of student recruitment for the School of Medicine, said about 25 out of 2,000 at the medical college are Latino, a number the institution wants to improve.

Contact Clyde Hughes at:

chughes@theblade.com

or 419-724-6095.



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