By Leonard Rodriguez
This column highlights inspiring stories of Latino lead- ers. For more than 50 years, Latino men and women have positively influenced the face of United States society. Let us celebrate these outstanding hispanics.


Vincent Valdez

Leaving Burbank High School in San Antonio, a legacy artist, Vincent Valdez turned down an $80,000 commission offer because it meant abandoning a mural he had begun in his high school cafeteria. A young and talented artist to keep an eye on, Valdez won his first contests, a “Stay In School” poster and a Levi’s advertisement, in the 7th grade. By high school, he won a contest in Hispanic magazine and earned $3,000 to illustrate the cover of a Spanish textbook. Graduating at the top of his class in 1996, Valdez received a full scholarship to study at the International School of Fine Arts in Miami. (Photo courtesy of