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2014 'Young Latinos To Watch' List

As Connecticut’s Latino communities continue to grow and thrive, a new generation of young Latinos are making a name for themselves.  They are entering new fields, breaking barriers and following their dreams.  Their confidence, determination and work ethic ensures that their future is bright.  We’ve identified  five of these young Latino dynamos, from diverse fields, but we know there are many, many more.   Congratulations to all who work hard every day and believe in themselves and their ability.

 Our 2014 list of “Young Latinos To Watch”

Andrés Ayala


CT State Senator Andrés Ayala

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he intends to appoint Andres Ayala of Bridgeport to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when his second term in office begins on January 7, 2015.  Ayala will succeed Commissioner Melody Currey, who currently serves in the role and will soon be transitioning as the incoming Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services.
“Andres has dedicated himself to improving the lives of not only the residents of the district that he serves, but also the lives of the children he teaches in Bridgeport’s school district,” Governor Malloy said.  “I had the opportunity to get to know him during my first term in office as Governor, and I’ve consistently been impressed by his passion for public service and his commitment to finding new and efficient ways to improve government services.  While I know the residents of his district won’t like to see him go, I am confident that his service as DMV Commissioner will benefit residents of the entire state.”
Aundré Bumgardner
A surprise winner, this young Republican, whose family is from Panama and Puerto Rico, is now the youngest State representative in Connecticut’s legislature.  The 20 year-old

Rep. Andre Baungartner (R) New London, Groton

Rep. Andre Baumgartner (R) New London, Groton

won his party’s nod to run for the state House from the 41st District, which covers Groton and New London.   He plans to join the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus, where he will be the lone Republican,which demonstrates his willingness to work across party lines, to represent his urban constituents.  He is on his way to becoming an effective legislator.
Christopher  Rosario

Rep. Christopher Rosario (D) Bridgeport

This young Latino from Bridgeport may be new to the state’s legislature this year, but he is not new to advocacy, politics  and working on behalf of the Latino community.   This is the 2nd year we’ve name Chris to our Young Latino leaders list.   He recently won the election to represent his hometown of Bridgeport in the state legislature as representative from the 128 District.   He has been Bridgeport’s youngest department head as Director of Anti-Blight under the Office of Neighborhood Revitalization, and has launched numerous new initiatives;  under his leadership,  the city has seen a vast improvement in quality of life issues in the community. No doubt he will put his tough work ethic to good use at the state capitol.
Eloisa Melendez
This young 20 year-old is the only Hispanic on Norwalk’s Common Council, and its youngest member.  She went from  being able to vote in 2012 for the first time, to
Norwalk Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez

Norwalk Councilwoman Eloisa Melendez

being on the ballot and winning an election in 2013.  She says, being the only Hispanic on the board has given her a greater sense of responsibility. Hispanics in Norwalk make up 47 percent of the school system, and represent a growing constituency.  Melendez  has been a supporter of the initiative Latinos Unidos in Connecticut [LUC], which is attempting to bring together the different Hispanic communities to unite and create a stronger voice when it comes to advocating for Latino issues.
Still in college, this young Latina’s dedication and hard work make for a bright future.
 Aly Morell
In the “Who Says You Can’t Do It” category, Ally Morell is a star.
Soccer is her passion and when she wanted to attend University High school in
Aly Morell is the only girl on the University High School soccer team.

Aly Morell is the only girl on the University High School soccer team.

Hartford, she learned the school  did not have a girl’s soccer team.  Aly, who has been playing soccer since grade school,  has never been one to back down from something, so she made the hard choice and decided to get out of her comfort zone and go out for the boy’s soccer team.  She is the only girl on the team and certainly a wonderful example for all young people of just believing in yourself.
Alexandra Lucia
Aly Miller

Alexandra Lucia

This young Latina who was raised in Woodbury, didn’t think it took much courage to write and submit a play to the Manhattan Repertory Theater.   But, Alexandra. who was born in Colombia,  did just that.  Her play was accepted and she went on to produce, act in and direct it.
The one act play, which ran several nights, tells the story a deaf audio intern and her struggling co-workers trying to break into the music industry in New York.  The multi-talented Alexandra also paints, and sings, is a member of  the New York Women in Film & Television, has produced short film festivals in New York and Washington DC, and recently produced a national commercial for a contest linked to the upcoming Superbowl.  She has worked as a correspondent for CTLatinoNews and other publications.
At 26 years of age, this college grad says she still has much more to explore, and hopes to continue producing and creating inspiring stories.
Thursday: Top Latino News Stories of 2014

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