• Sean Friel

Students recognized at Hispanic Leadership Award Ceremony


The students stand with their families at the ceremony on June 30. (THG/Sean Friel. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

On June 30, Hammonton Health Coalition hosted the Hammonton Hispanic Leadership Award Ceremony at Con-Vivir Wellness Hub, where six Hispanic high school students would be honored for their leadership in their community. The students were presented with $1,000 each for the scholarships, which will help further their education. Other members of the Hammonton Health Coalition and donors were at the event, to support the young graduates.

The event started off with an introduction from Alejandro Ramirez, who talked about the Hammonton Health Coalition, and the donors that helped with making the scholarship possible. Ramirez is a volunteer connector for the coalition.


“Thanks to the Coalition for the work they do for, and with the community… and thanks to all the sponsors who believed in these young students, and investing in the future of our community,” Ramirez said.


Angie Ordoñez is congratulated by MainStreet Hammonton Executive Director Cassie Iacovelli. (THG/Sean Friel. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

He then handed the attention to Eileen Unger, from Emergency Preparedness Partnerships, who said a few words about the students and the effort that got them to this ceremony. She congratulated the students on their hard work and explained that she felt strongly for supporting the scholarship as she had to pay her way through college all by herself.


She said that giving back to the community and being apart of a community helps with social skills as well as public speaking. These traits are something that Unger believes to be important, as she explained that she was a very shy person, and that being a part of a community helped her with learning better public speaking. She also told the students to never stop learning, even if they finished school.


“I think it’s very important to always be learning. I know that because you think you’re done school then you’re done learning, but you can be learning throughout your whole life,” Unger said.


After Unger finished her thoughts, Cassie Iacovelli, the executive director of MainStreet Hammonton, took the opportunity to say a few words as well.


“I too wanted to say congratulations to the leaders of this community. Parents, congratulations to you for placing education and future education as a priority,” Iacovelli said.


She explained that she had worked at a college for 30 years before coming to Hammonton, and she taught leadership. Iacovelli said this was why the scholarship was so important to her, and how it was meaningful. She explained to the friends and family of the students that the recipients are leaders, and hopes that they are “servant leaders.” Iacovelli said that these types of leaders want to influence others, and to serve the community.


Michelle Bautista is congratulated by MainStreet Hammonton Executive Director Cassie Iacovelli. (THG/Sean Friel. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

Iacovelli then proceeded to hand out the scholarships to the students. The recipients, Angie Ordoñez, Rodolfo Herrera, Melanie Rojas, Arhely Portillo, Ashley Vargas, Alexandra Aguilar and Michelle Bautista all were recognized for their leadership and talents in their community. Ordoñez, Portillo and Aguilar all have plans to attend Atlantic Cape Community College, while the other four chose different universities or trade schools. Rojas is furthering her education with Rutgers University, Vargas at Stockton University and Bautista at Rowan University. Herrera chose to attend a trade school, Pennco Tech. Each received the $1,000 scholarship, and were given the opportunity to say a few words at the ceremony. The students were all very grateful for the support from the donors and their families, who helped them achieve the leadership award. Each of the students thanked the Hammonton Health Coalition, for choosing them and giving them the opportunity to further continue their education. After the presentation of scholarships, Community Connector Kelin Jimenez thanked everyone for coming to the event, and for supporting the newest leaders of the community.


A reception was held after the event, with food and drinks for the guest to enjoy.