Alixa Colon Zayas

Adrian Viera Picture #1

My name is Alixa Colón Zayas, I am a student completing my last undergraduate year pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Therapeutic Recreation at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). I was a sophomore in high school when my family moved to Saint Joseph, Michigan from Juan Diaz, Puerto Rico. I currently live with both my parents and my sister in Ann Arbor, MI.  I started my postsecondary educational career at Lake Michigan College (LMC), two years later I transferred to EMU to finish my bachelor's degree.  My internship experience was established at the Psychiatric unit at Saint Joseph Mercy in Chelsea, the Outpatient Rehab unit in Detroit Medical Center in Novi, and the Outpatient Pediatric clinic at the Michigan Medicine-Pediatric Rehabilitation Center in Ann Arbor.

As a student at EMU, I have been involved in various organizations on campus. I am an active member of the Latinx Student Organization and served as a secretary for the student board of the Student Therapeutic Recreation Organization.  I work three part times jobs and in my spare time, I volunteer for a number of adaptive sports clinics in my community such as the Michigan Adaptive Sports at the Detroit Medical Center and the University of Michigan Adaptive and Inclusive Sports for Children (UMAISE). I constantly look for opportunities to become the best version of myself physically and spiritually by doing the things that I am passionate about. These involve working out, spending time outdoors, traveling the world, visiting museums, and always searching for opportunities to try new things. 

With the continued help and support of my family, after the completion of my undergraduate degree, I will be applying for a Masters program in Gerontology. My ultimate goal is to obtain a Ph.D. and become an influential leader in my field of study and become an advocate for my community. I believe I can be an instrumental piece in the advancement of stronger evidence-based practices for my profession. I have worked hard and taken advantage of all of the opportunities that have been placed in my path in order to become the successful young professional that my family and I have always dreamed of. I would have not been able to complete all that I have done so far without the encouragement and support of my family.


Jose Adrian Viera

Adrian Viera Picture #1Elva Barajas Bangor High Student Graduates

Through hard work and dedication, anything is possible. Jose Adrian Viera is our latest example of how these words resonate ever true with our Hispanic/Latino community. Growing up as a migrant worker, Jose tackled higher education at Lansing Community College and Ferris State University to join the 103rd Mid-Michigan Police Academy. Through 17 intense weeks of challenges, Jose persevered and pushed through. Not only was Jose able to graduate, but he was awarded the Coordinator and Emergency Vehicle Operator awards. Now on-duty in the Lansing area, the HLCOM would like to congratulate our new Officer Viera for his unrelenting dedication to serve his community. We look forward to seeing the positive influence of his work in our community, and that he will hopefully inspire our community to achieve more.


Patricia Jaimes

Patricia Jaimes PortraitElva Barajas Bangor High Student GraduatesElva Barajas Bangor High Student Graduates

Ms. Patricia Jaimes is a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Hers is a field with notoriously limited diversity, and she has taken on the challenge of addressing this issue. Her research introduces a framework to illustrate how scientists from underrepresented minority groups utilize positive experiences, resources, and assets to excel in their scientific careers. Her approach highlights resources that are not often valued by the scientific community but are critical to the success of marginalized scientists of color and women.

As vice president of MSU’s chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicano/Hispanic and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and a peer mentor in MSU’s Upward Bound program, Ms. Jaimes mentors graduate, undergraduate, and high school students and motivates students to see their own lives as resources upon which to draw for scholarly and professional success. For this work, was awarded the Disciplinary Leadership Award from the MSU Council of Graduate Students. She is currently working with senior Latinx colleagues to develop mechanisms by which Latinx scientists can better connect and succeed in the field of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Ms. Jaimes was named one of the nation’s “Brightest and Most Driven Latino Students” and she earned a $5,000 Café Bustelo Scholarship in recognition of her dedication and commitment to empowering the Latinx community.

She is a woman, a scientist of color, a mother to a child with a disability, a first-generation college student, and a first-generation American, and Ms. Jaimes has found a way to use these labels as a source of power for her own ambition and success.

Juan Jaimes

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Juan R. Jaimes Costilla is from Austin, TX. He attended Texas State University, San Marcos where he graduated Cum Laude as the top student in his cohort. Juan earned a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences with a minor in Business Administration. During his time at Texas State University, Juan was the founder and president of Student Community of Progressive Empowerment (SCOPE), an organization that guided undocumented students on issues related to resources and building a community to complete a college degree. During his senior year in college, Juan was accepted to the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan for a Master’s in Public Policy where he received the Rackham Merit Fellowship for superior academic achievement and a sustained commitment to advocacy. While at Michigan, Juan has served as a board representative for the U of M Latino Alumni Association and as a Rackham Professional Development leader. This past year, Juan has been the elected student representative on the Ford School’s Executive Committee, a small group of faculty who set policy and make critical decisions for the school. Juan completed his MPP internship as a public policy fellow with the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, where he contributed to a large extent in the organization’s work with the city of Detroit, MI. Lastly, Juan was voted by his classmates to deliver the graduate commencement speech for the Ford School. He looks forward to continuing the work he is passionate about and becoming someone influential in the Latino community.

Here is the link to Juan's commencement speech at the 2018 Ford School Commencement ceremony on April 28, 2018.


Guadalupe Gonzalez


Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Guadalupe Gonzalez III, is currently a rising junior at Lansing Community College (LCC). Guadalupe is a proud product of Central Catholic High School, which he believes laid the foundation for his academic success. However, he credits his father, Guadalupe Gonzalez Jr., an Air Force veteran, for instilling in him a diligent work ethic, perseverance, and an appreciation for education. At LCC, Guadalupe has been very active on campus, where he was elected President of Phi Theta Kappa, selected to be a Student Senator on the Academic Senate, and a Student Representative for OneBookOneLCC. He also served as an intern for State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr., whom he considers a role model. 

Guadalupe plans to matriculate to the University of Michigan, where he will study Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. His next two immediate goals are to attend Harvard Law School and to become a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the United States Marine Corps. As one who has benefited from the help of others, Guadalupe seeks to give back to his community and pay it forward. Due to this desire, he would like to work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) and run for public office after he completes his service as a U.S. Marine.

Guadalupe moved to the state of Michigan three years ago after meeting his biological family for the first time. He attests that it was his decision to move from Texas to be closer to them as the defining moment that changed his life. In his free time, Guadalupe enjoys weight lifting, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family. His favorite teams are the University of Michigan football team, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Cowboys.

Lucia Alfaro

Lucia Alfaro   graduation   graduation day

Growing up in a Mexican/Brazilian household my family has sacrificed a lot to make sure my education was a priority. This past spring, I became a Siena Heights University graduate majoring in chemistry and earning a Bachelor of Science degree, where I was the first on both sides of my family to graduate college. I owe all my success to my parents and brother. My mother, Gamila Alfaro, is a teacher’s assistant at TutorTime Learning Center and my father, Pete Alfaro, is a Cement Mason at Rudolph Libbe. My brother will begin his sophomore year at Siena Heights University this fall, majoring in Business.

During my duration at Siena, I was a scholar in the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program, Student Support Services chemistry tutor, Tri-Beta Xi Omega member, captain of the Siena Heights University Women’s Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track and Field teams (qualifying for Nationals in the marathon twice). I was featured in the Siena Heights University school commercial (aired on television) capturing my endless motivation, leadership skills, and successes on and off the track, and I was a volunteer at Prairie Elementary School to help children in need of extra attention in reading, writing, and math.  

This year I was awarded the Hispanic Commission of Michigan Scholarship and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Service Award. I was recently accepted into Wayne State University School of Medicine to receive my Ph.D. in Cancer Biology, being one of five students accepted into the program, where I received a full scholarship tuition, along with a stipend.

My goals for the future are to help find a cure for cancer and inspire others to pursue their dreams. Being a minority is not an excuse, it’s motivation. I want to thank my family, friends, McNair Program, and the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan for all the love and support they have offered me.