NHI Award Winners, NHI News
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez named 2017 NHI Person of the Year
NHI Founder and President Ernesto Nieto, starting in a New Year’s Eve tradition of naming an NHI Person of the Year, has selected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as NHI’s 2017 Person of the Year—primarily for what she’s seeking to do in 2018.
Ocasio-Cortez continues in her quest to represent New York’s 14th District, encompassing her native Bronx as well as Queens. She is challenging an incumbent Congressman with a bold, innovative campaign seeking to engage citizens who have been forgotten and dismissed by political “experts,” providing real leadership that will better her community regardless of the election results.
Ocasio-Cortez is accustomed to beating the odds and forging forward with determination. She was tutored well by her father throughout her early years, and kept close company with her mother, grandmother, and younger brother. At just 17, her father suddenly became ill and died, but bearing the burden of that heavy and personal loss, she enrolled at Boston University, completed her program in four years, and graduated fourth in her class.
As a high school student, she participated in the NHI Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session and became intensely involved in the organization’s work, going on to serve as an LDZ Secretary of State and a John F. Lopez Intern while in college. Despite the current demands of her campaign, she still makes time for NHI, most recently serving as Educational Director for the 2017 Northeast Collegiate World Series and participating in the panel on the future of Latino leadership that stood out as a highlight of Celebración 2017.
“She’s never stopped caring about our work and mission,” says NHI senior vice president Julio Cotto. “Somehow, she finds the time to share her wealth of talents with others. She’s helped us train, run programs, and be part of the thinking behind NHI’s success.”
In summarizing Ocasio-Cortez’s selection as Person of the Year, Nieto notes, “Alex symbolizes the new emerging Latina—bold and courageous, well-educated and forward thinking, contemporary with her ideas and views, and unafraid of challenges. It’s not the fact that she faces stiff odds in her bid for United States Congress. It’s her character, her determination to succeed, and her community vision that makes the difference. It was there when she first joined us at 16 years of age and continues today. Alex is among the rising difference makers who are destined to impact our future as a country.”
Ocasio-Cortez is the second to receive the relatively new honor; Humberto Saenz was the inaugural honoree.
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez represents at the present time and hopefully for many generations to come, the inspiration for millions of people who had given up on themselves and their country, having had to endure 2 years of basic nothingness as part of their leadership’s daily reality show at the highest levels. She not only has gained the respect of citizens from her party but also from the GOP as well, in spite of the fact that those who criticize her are louder in their quest to silence her. She’s an amazing young lady with the character to face anything and anybody who stands on her way to defend her principles. To quote a phrase that became popular a couple of years ago during a student strike at the University of Puerto Rico protesting against a tuition increase: “Her opponents fear her because she doesn’t fear them”.