Judge Lizette Colon is keynote speaker at Latino Court Officer’s scholarship awards
The Latino Court Officers Society (LCOS) on Thursday, Sept. 26 hosted its first Hispanic Heritage Awards Celebration in the Manhattan Supreme Court where it gave out three scholarships and also honored two members of the court for their outstanding careers.
Alejandra Paulino, the first Hispanic secretary of the Senate in New York State’s history, and Lt. Steve Vera were the inaugural honorees. The keynote speaker was Justice Lizette Colon, acting justice of the Kings County Supreme Court, Civil Term.
“Lizette Colon was the first judge who was a member of the society,” said Erica Prosper, first vice president. “It was a no-brainer that she would be our keynote speaker.”
Justice Colon, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, started her career in the Brooklyn legal community as a Spanish court interpreter and eventually became a court officer and senior court clerk, all while attending law school at night and raising her son.
In her speech, Justice Colon congratulated the honorees and scholarship winners and spoke about the importance of the Latinx community coming together and uplifting each other through cultural pride and education.
“It is absolutely necessary to help empower, lift up and support the new generation,” she said. “Education and hard work is the traditional, legal path out of the darkness of poverty.”
The judge explained that she was one of the first judges to join the organization because she feels that it’s communities like the LCOS which play a vital role in helping communities come together and help ensure education.
“Thank you for creating an organization that enhances cultural understanding and fellowship, an organization which supports a sense of belonging and unity of purpose,” Justice Colon said.
After Justice Colon’s speech, awards were presented to the honorees. Paulino received the Achievement Award and Vera received the Excellence Award.
“With patience and hard work, todo es posible,” said Paulino after thanking the organization.
Vera currently works full-time for the New York State Court Officers Academy, is enlisted in the New York Guard’s 88th Area Command and is a retired Army veteran.
“What I do, I don’t do it for recognition,” said Vera. “I just like to help people. If I can share what I know and be remembered for that, then I’m a very happy individual.”
Scholarships were given out to Christina Ramos, Samantha Castillo and Jaden Perez. Prosper explained that even though this was only the first scholarship awards event the society has thrown, she hopes it becomes an annual event.
“Our goal is to labor within our communities and give back to those in need, and here we are,” said Jessica Hernandez, president of LCOS, in her closing remarks. “We’ve made our mark, and we’re giving back.”
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