“I like math,” he said, crediting a Waite High School
teacher for sparking that love.
Cordova had his name called near home plate just before the
Toledo Mud Hens squared off against the Lehigh Valley
Iron Pigs, hoping to hang onto first place in their
International League division, embroiled in a heated pennant
race with their rival, the Columbus Clippers.
Cordova proudly waved a giant cardboard check like he had just
won the minor-league baseball pennant. For an evening at least,
the cheers were for his accomplishments in the classroom and
pursuit of a higher education—just like a single and pursuit of
a stolen base would have drawn loud support from the Fifth Third
Field crowd for their favorite Mud Hens baseball player.
Cordova received an $862 SAO scholarship to Owens, where he’ll
finish his associate’s degree next year, then plans to transfer
to the University of Toledo to finish an education
degree. He wants to teach either middle-school or high school
math, after struggling in the subject his freshman year. But
then Mr. Jarvis entered his life.
“I wasn’t too good at math that year. I had him for two classes
and one thing he always made sure was no one left the classroom
without understanding the subject,” Cordova explained. “He
basically worked one-on-one with us through the first period and
then the second, he made sure everyone had it put down and
everyone was going home with the subject imprinted in their mind
and he just did a wonderful job of what he was doing. Made me
love math. That’s the year I decided I was going to teach
seventh through freshman math.”
Cordova now hopes to inspire his future math students the same
way Mr. Jarvis inspired him to do his best in math.
“Makes you want to do the same for other students as well,” he
said. “I want to help them out to the point where they feel
confident in the subject to where they’ll want to teach it.”
Carla Marianna Castaneda Yupanqui
moved to Toledo with her family after graduating from a high
school in Charlotte, NC. Her dad got a job with the Toledo
Catholic Diocese as director of the office of multicultural
ministries. Originally from Lima, Perú, she became used to
moving for her father’s career.
But she found a home in Lourdes University and a love of
Toledo, so she decided to set down roots to finish her education
when the family picked and moved again to Virginia. The nursing
major picked up a $1,000 scholarship during the pregame
“This just allows me to continue my career, to continue pursuing
my dreams of becoming a nurse,” she said. “A couple years ago
when I was applying to college, it was possible because of
economic funds and this all just makes it happen again. Every
year that I get support just means a lot to me.”
Like Cordova, Ms. Yupanqui has chosen a career path where she
can pay it forward in life.
“I have found that giving back to my community is what really
fulfills me, so I hope to work with minority communities, using
my bilingual skills and things like that to really serve people
that are underserved,” she said.
35, received a $1,000 scholarship to continue her studies in
business. She hopes to one day open her own business or work in
risk management. Ms. Martinez works at the Lucas County auto
title office in Sylvania, where she and her kids also live while
she attends Lourdes University.
“It helps me a lot. I have three kids. I’m just paying for
school myself, along with student loans,” she said.
Her higher education is showing “a lot” to her kids, as they
work to graduate from high school. Her children are 13, 12, and
10—and about to enter the toughest phase of their education. The
family frequently finds itself studying around the same table
“To go for your dreams and goals. I’ve been a student for a
while, so I want them to see me finish,” said Ms, Martinez, who
is only two semesters away from graduation. “If you’re going to
start something, always finish it.”
18, is a Waite High School graduate who will be a
freshman at the University of Toledo in the fall and
major in biomedical sciences, with the intent of become a
surgeon one day and work in California or Florida. She received
a $500 scholarship from Latins United.
“It’s not very typical to see a lot of diversity, especially in
the medical field. Being a woman, a Latina, it’s very important
for me to show that I’m not just a stereotype,” said Ms.
Balderas. “I want to be able to be the whole package.”
Hers is a success story that involves perseverance and facing
adversity head-on, by deciding to make a life change and stick
“I didn’t start off very successful in high school, so I ended
up transferring away and didn’t start at Waite,” she admitted.
“But I promised myself that even though I didn’t have a good
start that I was going to have a good ending. When I was
younger, I knew that even if I wasn’t the smartest, if I worked
hard I could be bigger. It was very important to my parents—who
didn’t have many opportunities—and important to me to make them
Ms. Balderas lists her father as her inspiration to do better
going forward in life, because of the many sacrifices he has
made for his four daughters, the oldest of whom also attends
college. Her father accompanied her to the pre-game scholarship
“It means a lot. I don’t want to cry,” she said of her father’s
presence and continued support between tears. “It’s going to
help a lot. It motivates me and shows me that if I don’t work
hard, then I can’t take care of him.”
“I’m so proud. That’s why I work so hard, give these guys
opportunity. I never had those opportunities. That’s why I want
to make sure they get the opportunity I never had, open a lot of
doors I never got to open,” said her father Eli Balderas,
who has worked his way up to a supervisor role at his current
employer. “My parents came up from Mexico, never really had no
mother, no dad.”
Nalleli’s dad stood proud near home plate, taking a video on his
phone of his daughter receiving a giant mock check as she tried
desperately to hold back tears of joy.
“I’ve always wanted them to go to college. That’s good, because
most of the kids graduate and that’s it, you know, they want to
stop there,” he said. “Not my daughters. They wanted to go to
college and I kept pushing them, giving them support. They did
good. They surprised me, did real good. They got scholarships,
helping them out a lot. I’m real proud of them. I’m just here to
help her however I can.”
19-year old Gabrielle
of Holland is one of six students to receive a
$500 scholarship from Latins United this year.
“A lot less stress and I can go back to school not having to
worry about money for books,” she said with a laugh.
The Springfield High School graduate is a sophomore at
the University of Toledo, where she is treasurer of the
Latino Student Union (LSU), and majoring in human
resource management and organizational leadership. Ms.
plans to be a talent recruiter.
The baby of the family “by a long shot,” she has an older
sister, 35, who works for ProMedica as a nurse and a brother,
26, who works for a construction company. Her anticipation made
her a bit jumpy before the check presentation.
“It feels cool. I’m a little nervous—I’m going to be on the big
screen,” she said with a laugh.
O'Donnell shared her special moment
with her high school sweetheart whom she met “while laser
tagging,” 20-year old Michael Serratos.
“I’m really proud of her. She’s a born leader and she’s going to
make a lot of herself in the future,” he said.
The other SAO scholarship winner is Samantha Torres, a
sophomore at Owens Community College majoring in criminal
The remaining Latins United scholarship recipients
include recent Toledo School for the Arts graduate
José Martínez, who’s entering Butler University as a
music composition major, Waite
graduate LaMarcus Neal, who heads to the University of
Toledo next month to study education; Bowsher High School
graduate Serena Rodríguez, who will begin classes at
Mercy College of Ohio in pursuit of a medical technology
degree, and Woodmore High School graduate Isabella
Sánchez, who plans to study animal science and
pre-veterinary medicine this fall at the University of
More than 500 people bought tickets to help support the annual
scholarship fundraiser, which is also meant to spread Latino
culture to a wider audience to raise awareness in the community.
SAO leaders selected 85-year old
María DeJesús Montez to
throw out a ceremonial first pitch. The mother of 14 formerly
played in a professional women’s baseball league. Her daughter
María wrote to Heritage Night organizers to tell them about her
Texas-born mother, brought to Toledo as a youth more than six
decades ago. Now stricken with dementia and living at Genacross
Lutheran Home in East Toledo, her daughter and other relatives
helped her to the pitcher’s mound for the special moment.
Yvonne y Grupo Fuego
played a pre-game concert on the Hensville Park stage to
entertain a growing crowd, while on the other side of Fifth
Third Field, mariachi singer Jacob Estrada serenaded ticket
buyers and baseball fans and El
Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico
dancers performed outside the main gate.
performed inside the Home Plate Entrance.
Yvonne Ramos-Ybarra later sang the national anthem at home plate
during pre-game ceremonies.
The Latino crowd proved lucky, as the
Mud Hens won, 4 to 3.
The Detroit Tigers
will host its 13th annual ¡Fiesta Tigres! to
honor the many contributions of Latin baseball players on
Saturday, August 11, 6 p.m. There will be special pregame
concourse festivities beginning at 4:30 p.m. A Latins
United-sponsored bus headed to that game against the Minnesota
Twins is already a sell-out, so tickets can be purchased online
at tigers.com or by calling 866-66-TIGER.