Madison Highland Preparatory senior Joseph Arias Escobar (left) and Xavier College Preparatory senior Emily Ruiz (right) were among 30 students from Arizona and New Mexico to receive Hispanic Youth Heritage Awards (submitted photos).

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) announced the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards recipients in February for the Yellow region, which includes Arizona and New Mexico. Thirty local high school seniors were honored for their leadership in the classroom and community during a virtual ceremony held Feb. 9, including Phoenix students Joseph Arias Escobar of Madison Highland Preparatory, and Emily Ruiz of Xavier College Preparatory.

Three students per category were honored with gold, silver and bronze medallions. Categories include Business & Entrepreneurship, Community Service, Education, Engineering, Healthcare & Science, Media & Entertainment, Public Service & Social Justice, Sports & Fitness, Sustainability, and Technology.

Joseph received the gold medallion in the Technology category. His interest in technology has been a lifelong pursuit, starting from the moment he was first introduced to a computer as a child, according to his bio. The allure of technology for Joseph lies in its versatility and practicality. He is drawn to its ability to entertain, organize, and bring a modern edge to life. This sparked a fascination for the inner workings of computers and a desire to build his own. For him, building a computer is like solving a complex puzzle, one that enriches and educates him as he progresses.

Joseph has set his sights on majoring in computer science and minoring in marketing at Arizona State University, Grand Canyon State University, or Northern Arizona University.

Emily was awarded with a silver medallion in the Education category. Her first experience with giving back to her community was when she was nine years old. It was her first time providing food to people who were struggling with homelessness, and she remembered giving a leather jacket to a man who appeared to be paralyzed from the cold, her bio says. As soon as he saw the jacket, his face lit up. Since then, her life has been filled with continuous service and love for her community. Being the oldest in her family, she has always been the example that her siblings and cousins admired, which greatly influenced her interest in the education field.

Emily plans to pursue a major in special education and a minor in Spanish at Arizona State University, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, or the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To learn more about these and other recognized students and their achievements, visit


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