San Juan Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto

Last week the San Antonio Association of Hispanics (SAAHJ) bestowed the Corazon De Oro Award honoring the San Juan Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto. It is given to professionals who use their national profiles to advance the lives of Latinos. We celebrated the 20th Annual Gala Scholarship & Annual Awards at the Grand Hyatt downtown next to the Henry B. Gonzalez Center. Each year we honor the Corazon De Oro Award recipient as well as The Henry Guerra Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Journalism and the SAAHJ Community Service Award. This year San Antonio Express News reporter Elaine Ayala was honored with the Henry Guerra Award. She grew up on the Westside and attended Memorial High School. I taught at “LA Memorial” 80-81! For four decades she has immersed herself in the printed word. She has been a reporter, editor, blogger, columnist and mentor to young journalists. She helped mentor former SAEN writer Francisco Vara- Orta who also received a scholarship through SAAHJ and served as the President of the SAAHJ after Elaine Ayala. American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions were honored with the SAAHJ Community Service Award presented to them by well- known actor and graduate of Harlandale H.S. Jesse Borrego. I taught at McCollum H.S. The San Juan Mayor made the 2018 list of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year she was a candidate for Time’s Person of the Year. She has written a book, “El Poder esta en La Calle.” Translated, “Power is in the Street.” After graduating from high school, she left Puerto Rico and attended the University of Boston graduating cum laude in political science, then a Master’s Degree in public policy at Carnegie Mellon. She is a recipient of numerous leadership awards including the 2018 Martin Luther King Centre Justice, Peace and Freedom award and more. In the VIP room before the event, I was able to take her picture with numerous attendees including myself! She was so gracious.

When the program neared the start time in the main hall, Mariachis began singing and playing their instruments. Suddenly the Mayor jumped out of her seat at her table and started singing with them. Numerous attendees smiled and jumped up and began singing with her and the Mariachis! I jumped up from my table sitting next to La Prensa Texas Publisher Steve Duran and Melissa Bryant the managing editor and headed toward the Mayor and the Mariachis for some photo taking. Apparently, many people had the same idea and pulled out their cell phones to take photos as well. The excitement exploded as many others chimed in to the singing. I took lots of photos of the singing participants. I posted them on my photo blog, www. walkerreport.net. Later her speech to the crowd was truly inspirational with a standing ovation. The event attracted over 700 people in attendance. The organization attempts to promote the next generation of young aspiring journalists and the opportunity as an organization to honor its own. I am personally proud to have been an active member for a number of years. I will continue to be an active member in good standing as long as I am able and continue to write for La Prensa Texas. Composed of local Hispanic, African-American, and Anglo journalists, public relations professionals and students interested in communications or the public relations industry, our chapter is thriving. I qualify as a “Bolillo.” The Corazon De Oro Award is presented to the individual, group or institution whose work has been nationally recognized for excellence. The recipient is publicly acknowledged as an inspiration to those around them. Former recipients include: filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, “Little Joe” Hernandez, singer Vikki Carr and CNN Reporter Jim Acosta. The 13 scholarship recipients include: Ruben Betancourt, A&M San Antonio, Paulette Carreon UT San Antonio, Jenna Carroll, Texas State University, Amanda Fierros, UT Arlington, Jennifer Gutierrez Texas State University, Kaley Lopez Univ. of Incarnate Word. Andres Mesa. Texas State University, Renee Muniz, Univ. of Incarnate Word, Micah Palomo, Texas Tech, Brassant Richardson, Univ. of North Texas, Briana Rodrigue Silva, SAC, Colin Spalten, UT Austin. Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”

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Steve Walker

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran, former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.

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