A ‘go-getter’ ambassador

The only male finalist, Victor Velasco, nervously sits behind

GILROY
– A combination of initiative and service in the face of
challenges has earned Angelica Olmos, a 19-year-old Gavilan College
student and Gilroy native, a $1,850 scholarship and the title of
Gilroy Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2003 Ambassador.
Olmos earned the award at Saturday night’s gala 16th Annual
Ambassador’s Ball, where she was one of five finalists to take the
stage at the Gilroy Elks Club and share their talents and ambition
before a group of Gilroy glitterati.
GILROY – A combination of initiative and service in the face of challenges has earned Angelica Olmos, a 19-year-old Gavilan College student and Gilroy native, a $1,850 scholarship and the title of Gilroy Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 2003 Ambassador.

Olmos earned the award at Saturday night’s gala 16th Annual Ambassador’s Ball, where she was one of five finalists to take the stage at the Gilroy Elks Club and share their talents and ambition before a group of Gilroy glitterati.

“I’m so happy!” Olmos said between hugs from visitors. “It feels good. I’ve worked hard for this and the title ambassador – that’s awesome. … It really helps me out for my school and my education.”

One of 10 children, Olmos will be one of the first of her family to attend college. She plans to attend the University of the Pacific in Stockton next year, where she’ll major in biology.

Upon graduation she plans to obtain a pharmaceutical degree and return to the area, mentor Gavilan’s Puente program and launch a career-speaker program for K-12 schools.

Olmos is president of Latina Leadership Network, a group meant to instill leadership in young women, and is also secretary of the Puente Ambassadors’ Club. She also volunteers for events such as Transfer Day and Career Day and leads campus tours.

“She’s just a go-getter all the way around,” said Celia Marquez, Gavilan’s Puente counselor and the Hispanic Chamber’s Ambassador scholarship chair.

Competitors for the Ambassador title Saturday answered written and oral questions, gave performances in dance or music – ranging from folkloric dance to Frank Sinatra – and modeled traditional costumes as well as contemporary formal evening wear.

Olmos performed the Aztec dance “La Primavera.” Asked on stage what the road to success means to her, Olmos said success comes when you set a goal, set a strategy to meet it – and then follow through.

“I will consider myself successful when I’m employed as a pharmacist and able to volunteer for my community,” she said.

As ambassador, Olmos will now represent the Hispanic Chamber at activities such as the Memorial Day Parade and Garlic Festival as well as next year’s Ambassador’s Ball, and will likely speak to other students as well.

Students ages 17 to 24 with grade-point averages of 2.5 or above can apply for the Ambassador competition. Five finalists are chosen after interviews that feature questions about educational and career goals, community service and leadership. Students with GPAs at 3.0 or higher can also qualify for scholarships based on academics alone.

Saturday’s field was tight. Other contestants included:

• Miriam Silvas, 20, who will pursue a career in physical therapy with a degree in kinesiology from San Jose State and also wants to sing or teach others how. Silvas served as a peer counselor – even forming her own counseling group – and volunteered to help clean a local park. Silvas, the first runner-up, received a $1,550 scholarship.

• Lupe Ramirez, 17, a Gilroy High student who plans to major in international business. Ramirez is active in church youth and dance groups and the GHS Latino club. Ramirez received a $1,200 scholarship.

• Marbella Tovar, 18, a Gilroy High student who plans to use a business management degree from UC Santa Cruz and eventually launch her own fashion-design business. She’s involved in the Latinas program, gymnastics and tennis and volunteers at the Lord’s Table and the city’s Memorial Day celebration. She won an $800 scholarship.

• Victor Velasco, 23, who will major in biochemistry at San Jose State and seek a career in biomedical research and teaching. Velasco is a math tutor and choir tutor and is music director for the Hispanic community at St. Mary’s church. He won an $800 scholarship.

Keynote speaker Modesta Garcia, a professor and counselor at the College of San Mateo who has earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and several awards and honors, read biographies of successful and high-profile Latinas ranging from executive coaches to professors.

“They are recognized because of what they share with you – a commitment to improve their community,” she said.

1993 Ambassador Regina Torres shared her life story and wowed with a stirring rendition of “Ay Unos Ojos,” the same song she sang at her ball 10 years ago. Torres is a kindergarten and music teacher during the week and a singer with the band “Magic Wanda” on weekends.

“I had a year of personal growth” after becoming Ambassador in 1993, she said. “It changed my life.”

Marquez said students prepare for two or three weeks for the ball.

“This has really helped a lot of students,” she said. “It really helps their character, I think. There’s a lot of teamwork going on behind the scenes.”

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