Recipients of the 2017 ASCC Awards honored at banquet

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Benjamin Garcia

Co-Chair of STIXA Areal Hughes received the Woman of the Year award for her service and leadership. When giving her acceptance speech so become overcome with emotions when mentioning that her mother was unable to come to the awards ceremony. Photo credit: Benjamin Garcia

Benjamin Garcia

There was a point in time when Co-Chair of STIXA Areal Hughes suffered an injury and couldn’t walk. She was in a wheelchair and had “a lot of doctors say” she would never walk again, “let alone dance.”

That is what ASCC Woman of the Year Award recipient Hughes said when talking about her struggles, which lead to her receiving the award at the 2017 ASCC Awards Banquet on Friday, May 5th– held in the student center.

Hughes found a doctor in Arizona who would perform surgery on her, and that’s how she became the youngest person in the US to have had a knee replacement — a titanium knee.

“I learned how to walk all over again,” Hughes said, “with the support of God, my friends and family.

“I came to Cerritos College, some things happened where I had financial aid issues and I couldn’t quite transfer– but I was given job after job here because of my personality and the way I love talking to people and helping people.”

She went on to say that she has had “a few encounters with students that didn’t like” her, but she did not let that bother her– citing an incident in senate of Fall 2016 where senators and people from the public were “attacking” her and “bullying” her and otherwise “demeaning” her character.

Hughes said, “It was totally okay because I had my head held high. It didn’t stop me from helping students. It didn’t stop me from being a good person. It didn’t stop me from forgiving them.”

Now Hughes is working with STIXA advisor Valyncia Raphael and Dean of Student Services Elizabeth Miller on steps to ensure that (bullying on the senate floor) doesn’t happen again. ASCC President-elect Karen Patron and ASCC President Saul Lopez-Pulido are assisting also.

Lopez-Pulido took home the Man of the Year award, as well as a Gold Falcon and a Lifetime Membership card.

The Lifetime Membership card is described in a bylaw in the ASCC Constitution as token of achievement to be presented for service and commitment to ASCC. The presidents and vice presidents receive lifetime membership cards.

“I think it’s a little unfair because the Chief Justices do a lot for us, so I added Chief Justice Rodrigo Quintas by executive order. I don’t know if Karen Patron will do the same.”

The Gold Falcon and the Man of the Year were committee decisions, according to Lopez-Pulido who was on the committee– and went on to say that there were plenty of hard decisions to make because a large number of people with high GPAs apply for the scholarship, adding that if you ask him he would say that ASCC needs to give out more scholarships.

“That’s why we increased the funding for Financial Aid and the budget passed, so they’re getting about $75,000 for scholarships.”

The Man of the Year then thanked his parents and siblings saying that although his family likes to “cause a mess” he wouldn’t be the man he is without them– adding that he owes them everything and he will be eternally grateful for their support.

He said that if there were something he had to overcome, it was being an introvert as ASCC President going to every event on campus.

Lopez-Pulido concluded, “Night gathers, and now my watch has begun.”

Student Activities coordinator Amna Jara received an ASCC Special Award.

Jara oversees the events that ASCC puts on, including the awards banquet.

According to Jara, the committee holds an evaluation of the applications for the various awards and rate them. It is Jara’s job to calculate the scores and determine who gets what award.

When Lopez-Pulido introduced Jara during the banquet, he mentioned that he had to ask her to leave the room so that the committee could decide to present her with the Special Award– and that she has refused the award two times before.

As she walked forward, she received a standing ovation.

Jara concluded, “Life always throws curveballs and the students have always kept me positive, and it’s been a very rewarding career.”

She thanked all the students at Cerritos College.

At the end of the night, Rodrigo Quintas inaugurated Karen Patron and David Ramirez into office.

Patron later commented that she was thrilled to have her mother and sisters there by her side adding that she and Ramirez are ready to empower students by creating an inviting atmosphere in student government, where all students feel comfortable being creative and able to work as a team on student initiatives.

She also said, “It is always an honor to stand among my fellow students and have us all be recognized for the hard work and dedication we put into making Cerritos College the best college for Falcons of today and tomorrow.”