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SOMERS –University of Wisconsin-Parkside kicks off Hispanic Heritage month festivities with its third annual Hispanic Leadership celebration: Festejo de Lideres. This celebration recognizes local leaders from the surrounding campus communities and the impact that these leaders have in the lives of students and families. This year’s selection of awardees is unique because community members and students submitted nominations.

The first awardee is Jose Reynaldo Palacios. Mr. Palacios is currently the Deputy State Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin. A member since 2001, he has been the Vice President and President of Council 320 for the Racine and Kenosha County. In addition, Mr. Palacios has served as LULAC State Director for Youth, working with High School students in the Kenosha, Racine and Milwaukee area. He has been recognized as LULAC Man for the Year in 2010 and has been recognized by several non-profit local organizations and the Kenosha Unified School District for his contributions to the Hispanic community.

As a resident of the Racine Community, he worked for both Racine and Kenosha Unified School Districts until his retirement from Kenosha Unified in 2013. He has been an educator for the past 33 years of his career and continues as a substitute for both districts. He worked as a Bilingual educator in both the Racine and Kenosha districts before advocating for the Dual Language Program model and continues to work for a more positive and inclusive method of instruction for all children in both communities.  Mr. Palacios has a BA from University of Wisconsin Parkside and is a proud Parkside Alumni. In 2018 he was recognized by UW-Parkside with the Distinguished Alumni Award for Community service by the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies. We are honored to once again recognize his efforts and commitment to his community.

The second Awardee Mr. Andres Alfredo Cerritos, is also a UW Parkside alumnus. Mr. Cerritos is an immigration attorney based in Chicago. Born in El Salvador during the civil war, the war threatened his family’s lives, separated them for two years, and forced them into refuge. Andres and his family later reunited in Illinois under the blanket of asylum.

While at UW-Parkside with an athletic scholarship for Men’s Soccer, Andres Cerritos studied Business Management with a concentration on Information Systems. He took advantage of study abroad opportunities offered at UW-Parkside to travel to China, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Being able to study business, travel abroad, and play soccer while in college provided Andres a valuable education and experience that guides him to this day in his personal and professional life.

After graduating from UW-Parkside, Andres Cerritos accepted a job as the Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, located at the Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Chicago, IL. There, he helped small business owners write business plans, obtain financing, and manage their small businesses. In 2007, Andres Cerritos attended law school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While in law school, Mr. Cerritos worked at the Immigration Justice Clinic that focused on providing free legal services to the under-served immigrant community in Madison, WI. He was also awarded an Equal Justice America Fellowship and a Godfrey & Kahn Fellowship.

Today, Andres Cerritos runs his own law practice, focusing on immigration law. He practices before the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The recognition of both recipients is being celebrated at UW-Parkside with a video showcasing their accomplishments and can be viewed in the UW-Parkside Hispanic Heritage page (www.uwp.edu/hispanicheritage) and on social media (https://www.facebook.com/ParksideSSPS).

A full list of events and registration links are also available on the Hispanic Heritage homepage (www.uwp.edu/hispanicheritage). Students and members of the community are welcome to join these virtual discussions with speakers from across the states as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage month.


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