Hispanic Heritage Foundation Honors Local Student for Her Leadership in the Classroom and Community

Posted at 3:46 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 12:03:35-04

18-year-old Nicole Lugo was honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation for her leadership in the classroom.

"Being Hispanic is who I am. I come from this culture that’s so rich. Food, music, people and I'm just extremely proud of my culture," she said.

Out of 30,000 applicants, 30 students are selected to receive a one-time grant to help fund their college education or a community service effort that tackles a social issue.

Lugo attended Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Hialeah. Throughout high school, she volunteered over 700 hours with the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust, serving as a youth prosecutor.

"I was involved with teen court. If a teenager or someone very young committed a crime and it was their first time, they could be directed to this program where they could get lesser sanctions or punishment for the crime they committed, so they can learn from this and not commit further crimes in the future," said Lugo.

Gold, silver and bronze recipients are selected out of 10 categories. Lugo is the 2020 gold recipient of the social justice category.

"As a prosecuting attorney, I was able to meet many participants, especially in the Latino community who were going through tough times [and] who had trouble at home. I really just wanted to guide them on the right path," she said.

"We make sure that these students are excelling academically but also are invested in their community and have extracurriculars so they’re well-rounded students that are making an impact already in their community," said Jessica Herrera, Development Coordinator for the Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

With sights set on the future, Lugo says she wants to become a lawyer.

"My mom worked in the court system, she was a court reporter. She would always take me on take your child to work day or sometimes on the weekends to observe court cases. The judge would sometimes let me sit on top of the bench and I would watch the proceedings and I was just extremely captivated by the attorneys and the jobs they were doing," said Lugo.

The deadline for the 2021 Youth Awards is November 14th. You can find a link to the application here.