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Three Victoria students win college scholarships for Hispanic Heritage Month contest

Sept. 22, 2012 at 4:22 a.m.

Jordan Benavides, left, Cateline Taylor and Tristan Hinojosa display their winning artwork during Tuesday's Hispanic Heritage Month Poster Contest reception at the University of Houston-Victoria.

Jordan Benavides, a Victoria East High School freshman, won first place in the 2012 Hispanic Heritage Month Poster Contest.

The contest is sponsored by the University of Houston-Victoria, Victoria College and Victoria Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Council.

Jordan, the daughter of Tonya Casillas and Vincent Benavides, said a photograph taken in the courtyard at her school inspired her piece "En El Estillo Mexicano."

"I normally draw animals or objects," she said. "This time, I wanted to try something new by drawing people."

Jordan, who was an eighth-grader at Howell Middle School when she created the poster, won a $2,000 scholarship from UHV, a summer camp scholarship to Victoria College and has her artwork featured on posters advertising Victoria's Hispanic Heritage Month events.

Jordan and two other winners were honored during a reception Tuesday in the UHV Multi-Purpose Room.

Second place went to Cateline Taylor, a freshman at Victoria West High School who was an eighth-grader at Cade Middle School when she entered the contest.

Tristan Hinojosa, an eighth-grader from Howell Middle School, placed third in the contest.

Cateline received a $1,000 college scholarship, and Tristan received a $500 college scholarship.

The awards were donated by the Victoria Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Council.

"The entries this year were impressive," said Billy Lagal, organizer of the contest and manager of the UHV Letting Education Achieve Dreams initiative. "Not enough credit is given to middle-school students for their talents. The teachers do an amazing job teaching the students, as well."

In the spring, more than 20 area middle school students submitted artwork that represented Hispanic heritage to them.

Judges then met in July to determine the winners. The art was judged by community members and UHV employees. The judges were Felicia Vela, Cara Fredrick, Nancy Penry, Cari Laza and Joe Baugh.

The judges had lengthy discussions about the different perspectives on the Hispanic heritage theme, quality of color and detail of each piece, Lagal said.

Before the winners were announced, the event included entertainment from the Our Lady of Sorrows Ballet Folklorico.

Macarena Hernández, the Victoria Advocate Endowed Professor at UHV, then spoke about the importance of learning a second language. She encouraged students and parents to reflect during Hispanic Heritage Month about the benefits of knowing English and Spanish.

"When you speak more than one language, the world opens up," Hernández said. "Not only does a second language make you more marketable, it also allows you to appreciate music and culture and to develop deeper connections with others."



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