Hispanic Heritage Month Winners Announced

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Volunteer Florida is proud to announce the following winners of the Governor’s 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month art, essay, and educator awards. The awards were presented to recipients at the Governor’s Mansion this week. Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated every year in Florida from September 15-October 15; the 2016 event honoring awardees was postponed due to Hurricane Matthew.

Governor Scott said, “My wife Ann and I were honored to join Volunteer Florida in recognizing the many great students and teachers who participated in last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month contest. We are proud of our diverse and vibrant state and these winners and their projects represent the countless contributions Hispanic individuals and families have made to our communities.”

Volunteer Florida Chief Executive Officer Chester Spellman said, “It is an honor to join Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott to present awards to these outstanding educators, artists, and students. We are grateful for the many partners who made the recognition event possible – particularly the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, which provided three, 4-year Florida College Plan scholarships. Volunteer Florida was also thrilled to present the Champion of Service to a college student and service leader.”

Commissioner Pam Stewart said, “I was honored to join Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott in recognizing the 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month student contest winners and Excellence in Education educator award recipients. Hispanic Americans have contributed greatly to Florida’s rich history. I commend the student participants for taking this opportunity to learn more about Hispanic American heroes, past and present, and to celebrate the hard-working educators who share those contributions and inspire our state’s students.”

Secretary of State Ken Detzner said, “I heartily congratulate the winners of Governor Rick Scott’s student art and essay contests, as well as the educator recipient of Excellence in Education award. The Governor’s art and essay contests inspire students to learn about and honor Florida’s Hispanic heritage and then to translate that rich history into visual arts and creative writing in honor of Hispanic American heroes. As Florida’s Chief Cultural Officer, I am privileged to celebrate the talents of these remarkable educators and student artists.”

The 2016 Florida Hispanic Heritage Month theme was “Honoring Hispanic American Heroes” in recognition of those who have protected Florida’s communities and families.
Award recipients are as follows:

Essay winners:
Elementary school category:  Ailanie Sanchez
Fourth grade, San Jose Catholic School, Duval County

Middle school category: Madilynn Vidal
Sixth grade, Southwood Middle School, Miami-Dade County

High school category: Cristian Ramos
Eleventh grade, Manatee School for the Arts, Manatee County

Excellence in Education Award winners:
Elementary school category: Rossana Chiarella, Palm Springs North Elementary, Miami-Dade County

Middle school category: Carla Ford, St. Luke’s Lutheran School, Seminole County

High school category: Mirelys (Mindy) Goode, Pine Ridge High School, Volusia County

Student art contest winners:
Karla Angelina Valencia-Gonzalez, first grade, John Walker Elementary, Seminole County
Title of art: “Honoring Hispanic Heroes”

Victoria Grace Sanchez, third grade, St. Theresa School, Miami-Dade County
Title of art: “A Celebration of Hispanic American Heroes: Veterans, Military, Law Enforcement and First Responders”

Abraham Cadaval, third grade, Coral Reef Elementary, Miami-Dade County
Title of art: “Just in Time”

Volunteer Florida also recognized Champion of Service Donavan Ebersole, a sophomore at Chipola College. Donavan serves as a tutor at Chipola’s Academic Center of Excellence and recently created a Science Day at Chipola College for over 70 area high school students.

Volunteer Florida is grateful for the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Florida Prepaid College Foundation
  • Comcast
  • Walmart
  • Florida Blue
  • Florida Power and Light
  • Prudential
  • Publix
  • Mosaic
  • Florida Lottery
  • Sunshine Health
  • Aetna
  • Maritza Rovira-Forino Family
  • AT&T


VF Foundation Board Member Martiza Rovira-Forino, Governor Rick Scott, First Lady Ann Scott,
and Champion of Service Award recipient Donavan Ebersole


Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott with Hispanic Heritage Month
art contest winner Victoria Grace Sanchez


VF CEO Chester Spellman, Chair Sam Seevers, and Foundation Chair Chucha Barber

About Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States has been celebrated since 1988, when President Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation extending Hispanic Heritage Week into a month-long observation. This annual month-long celebration that begins on September 15 recognizes the contributions, traditions and culture of Hispanics and Latino Americans to the United States of America. Each year in October, Volunteer Florida supports the Hispanic Heritage Month Reception at the Governor’s Mansion. This is a special opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of Hispanics in Florida, including music, art, and culture. The evening culminates with the Governor’s presentation of awards to outstanding Hispanic students, artists, and educators. Three students will each receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.