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Annual Noche de Gala Always a Favorite

Released by Panhandle State Campus Communications on 11/07/2017 Panhandle State's HALO group pauses for a quick photo following the always favorite Noche de Gala. —Photo by Danae Moore Panhandle State's HALO group pauses for a quick photo following the always favorite Noche de Gala. —Photo by Danae Moore

Goodwell, Okla. — Oklahoma Panhandle State University’s Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) did not disappoint this year with the always favorite Noche de Gala. Delicious food and delightful entertainment marked the evening with leadership recognition the focus.

HALO President Diego Arenas-Purvinis welcomed guests to the special event on Tuesday, October 17th in the Student Union Ballroom on campus followed by a welcome in Spanish by Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Julie Dinger.

Following a wonderful meal by Great Western Dining, Hispanic Student Services Director Teri Mora spoke about some of the honors HALO had received this past year through HACU, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Panhandle State is one of only two Oklahoma institutions that qualify for membership.

Mora introduced Panhandle State student Jocelynn Avalos to speak about two opportunities provided to her through HACU. This past summer, Avalos was awarded an internship in Washington, D.C. through HACU’s Hispanic National Internship Program marking the second summer in a row for her to receive the honor. While in D.C., she was also the only student from Oklahoma to participate in the “Girl Up Leadership Summit.” Avalos was then presented the “Orgullo Hispano” award, a Hispanic pride award in recognition of national achievements.

Another great honor for HALO was being selected for the third year as a participant in the Hispanic College Quiz Show, a televised show much like Jeopardy. Ami Torres represented Panhandle State at the Hispanic College Quiz Show in Nashville in July. Ami won the competition earning herself a $4,500 scholarship and a trip to the National HACU conference in San Diego where she will be recognized for her achievements. Torres was then presented the “Orgullo Hispano” award as well.

A former student, Ms. Amada Alvidrez was then invited to the podium to speak about her experiences with education and her career. Alvidrez graduated in 1996 as the Valedictorian of Guymon High School and later graduated from Panhandle State in May 2000 with a degree in Secondary English Education, earning magna cum laude honors. She also attended three summers of Graduate School in Banking in Colorado and graduated in 2009 with honors. She has worked at City National Bank for 23 years and is currently the Vice President, heading all operations at the bank. In addition she has been a board member of the Texas County YMCA for four years and has put her teaching degree to work as a religious education teacher at St. Peter’s for 12 years.

Alvidrez commented, “I loved my education here.” She added, “I am certainly putting my degree to use.”

She was presented with the Hispanic Legacy Award.

Next recognition was given to the royalty crowned at the FIESTA in Guymon, Okla. this past September. Panhandle State has sponsored the FIESTA Royalty scholarship competition for the past 20 years. This year over $15,000 was awarded in tuition waivers at the Guymon FIESTA. Lupita Jimenez was named the 2017 FIESTA Queen and Jose Lopez is the 2017 FIESTA King.

Among Panhandle State students recognized Joel Barbosa, Sergio Sosa, and Maxine Henderson received the “Newcomer” award. These students are always ready to volunteer and help wherever they are needed from face painting and taco making to Financial Aid workshops. Sam Ortiz was recognized for outstanding service and “step up” mentality. Ortiz is always willing to volunteer for events, has great leadership and insight, and always does so with a positive attitude.

Dianna and Phil Brown and Vonda Wilkins were presented the “Community Partner” award for their wonderful support of HALO and all the group’s endeavors.

Vice President of Outreach Dr. Ryan Blanton addressed the group before the evening’s conclusion and spoke about plans for the future.

Special thanks to the Hooker High School HALO group for attending the event.

We Are Panhandle We Are Panhandle!

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