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Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month

Hispanic-Latino Heritage month is celebrated each year between September 15 and October 15 to commemorate the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate their independence during this time.

Hispanic-Latino Heritage month is also a time to recognize how our national character is enhanced and shaped with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multiethnic and multi-cultural customs of our shared community.

Alameda County’s population is made up of 23% self-identified Hispanics/Latinos totaling 339,441 residents and about 18,000 businesses in Alameda County are Hispanic/Latino owned.

On Tuesday, September 23, 2014 the Alameda County Board of Supervisors proclaimed September 15 - October 15, 2014 as “Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month.” Let us continue realizing our shared aspirations as we celebrate the unique influences of Hispanic/Latino cultures.

Below are just a few of the influential Hispanic/Latino leaders who have made a positive impact on our culture.

Jamie Escalante

Jaime Escalante, Calculus Teacher

Jamie Escalante was born on December 31, 1930 in La Paz, Bolivia. He came to the United States in the 1960s. Jaime became one of the most famous educators in America during the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1974, Jaime took a job at Garfield High School in East Los Angeles, California. Garfield High was known for being a rundown school challenged by violence and drugs. Jaime led many of the students in his math program to pass the advanced placement calculus test.

Jamie Escalante

Both educators and students have found Escalante's work at Garfield inspiring.

In 1988, his story was the subject of a book entitled Jaime Escalante: The Best Teacher in America and a film called Stand and Deliver starring Edward James Olmos, who played Jaime.

Jaime received the Presidential Medal for Excellence and was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999. Jaime died of cancer on March 30, 2010. He was a husband and father of two children.

“The greatest thing you have is your self-image, a positive opinion of yourself. You must never let anyone take it from you."


Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende, Author & Feminist

Isabel Allende, of Chilean descent was born in Lima, Peru in 1942 and grew up in Santiago, Chile.

She co-founded Paula, a feminist magazine and has published several novels since 1982. Isabel’s first novel House of the Spirits, La casa de los espíritus was also made into an American film.

Isabel Allende

She continues to produce novels based in part on her own experience, often focusing on the passion of her female protagonists, weaving myth and realism together.

In 2010, Isabel received Chile’s National Prize for Literature “Premio Nacional de Literatura” and an honorary doctorate from the University of San Francisco.

Isabel began living in the United States in 1988, became a US citizen in 2003 and resides in San Rafael, CA.

“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend, or not.”


Hugo Perez

Hugo Pérez, Hall of Fame Soccer Player
Republic of El Salvador

Hugo Ernesto Pérez was born November 8, 1963 in El Salvador. Hugo learned to play soccer as a child in El Salvador often playing kids and adults.

Hugo was a member of the U.S. National Soccer Team at both the 1984 Summer Olympics and the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He was the 1991 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2008.

During his fourteen year career, he played professionally in the United States, France, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and his native El Salvador.

Hugo gained his U.S. citizenship as a youth and earned 73 caps, a recognition players receive when they compete in international matches for their country, and scored a total of sixteen goals playing for the U.S. National Team between 1984 and 1994.

Hugo Perez

Hugo took 5 years off from playing in the US to work with a Christian ministry in El Salvador visiting prison inmates and impoverished people.

He returned to the US to be an assistant coach at University of San Francisco and coached national youth teams.

Hugo lives in Vallejo with his wife and kids.

On advice to soccer coaches…“One, to give the players confidence. Second, not to put them down when they make a mistake. Third, at those ages you don’t coach, you need to teach. And you need to teach in a positive way and encourage players to be creative.”

Jeremy Schultz sits down with U.S. National Team Scout, Hugo Perez, from issue #3, Inside the Six

Ellen Ochoa

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, Astronaut

In April, 1993, Ellen became the first Hispanic-American woman in space.

Ellen became an astronaut in 1991 and is a veteran of three NASA Space Shuttle flights traveling four million miles in one mission alone!

Ellen is Mexican-American, born and raised in Southern California.

Before NASA selected Ellen to be an astronaut, she earned a doctorate degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University and co-invented three patents for optical engineering systems.

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen plays the flute, flies planes, and enjoys volleyball and bicycling. She is a wife and mother of 2.

“Being an astronaut is a wonderful career. I feel very privileged. But what I really hope for young people is that they find a career they're passionate about, something that's challenging and worthwhile.”

Ellen Ochoa art credit: Kendra Melton,

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