Denise Wager | May 11, 2019
The Hispanic Law Student Association at Notre Dame Law School honored Congressman Joaquin Castro on Thursday, April 25, with the 2019 Graciela Olivárez Award. The award is named in honor of Olivárez, who was the first woman and first Latina to graduate from Notre Dame Law School.
Notre Dame Law School’s HLSA chapter presents the Graciela Olivárez Award each year to an outstanding Hispanic lawyer or judge who exemplifies Olivárez’s ideals such as a strong commitment to community service, high ethical and moral standards, and a dedication to justice.
Affectionately known as “Amazing Grace,” Olivárez advocated for the poor, homeless, and underprivileged throughout her life. She worked as an attorney, public servant, and civil rights activist. She served under three U.S. presidents, including President Jimmy Carter, who appointed her director of the Community Services Administration in 1977.
Peter Gonzales, a third-year law student and president of Notre Dame Law School’s HLSA chapter, said Castro’s commitment to the Latino community is one of the reasons that HLSA chose the congressman to receive this year’s Graciela Olivárez Award. Castro has served Texas’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2013 and chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Castro spoke to Notre Dame Law students at a ceremony in the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom. He reflected on the advances Latinos have made in recent years, including growing Latino communities throughout the country, more Latino representation in government, entrepreneurship, and professional careers, and an increased number of Latinos attending college and earning advanced degrees.
He also cited the challenging environment for Latinos today, especially with the politics surrounding immigrant and migrant issues.
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