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ASU staff members recognized in 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Awards

portrait of Anel Arriola
September 30, 2014

To honor their leadership and contribution to the Latino/Hispanic community, three staff members from Arizona State University have received the esteemed 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Award.

Honorees Anel Arriola, Davier Rodriguez and Elizabeth Cantú from ASU were chosen from more than 75 nominations based on a comprehensive evaluation of their impact on community and excellence in leadership.

The award winners will be recognized at a luncheon on Oct. 3 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix.

Anel Arriola, College of Nursing and Health Innovation

Anel Arriola serves as an administrative associate for the Center on Healthy Outcomes in Aging at the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, and is a project administrator for a National Institutes of Health pre/post doctoral training program in health disparities. She is also a mentor for the Chicano/Latino Staff Faculty Association, and directs an award that College of Nursing and Health Innovation, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion and Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center received from the Academic Excellence through Diversity Program at ASU.

Arriola has developed volunteer seminars on healthy aging affiliated with Chicanos por la Causa, a community development corporation in Arizona offering assistance to disadvantaged individuals, and serves on Mountain Park Health Center’s Community Advisory Board for strategic planning for Sangre por Salud Biobank, a genomic research effort launched in partnership with Mayo Clinic and ASU to support studies in areas of health-related concern in the Latino population, such as obesity, metabolism and diabetes.

Arriola is a Phoenix Phabulous Experience Phoenix History mural artist and a performer with the women’s collective Mujeres del Sol.

Arriola said her drive to be involved in the community comes from within. “I am a shy individual, so every time I serve, it’s a purposeful push to get out of my comfort zone in order to lead by example. There’s no better way," she says.

Davier Rodríguez, Educational Outreach and Student Services

Davier Rodríguez is a program coordinator for ASU’s TRIO Student Support Services, a federally funded educational opportunity program that serves lower-income, first-generation and students with disabilities. He has also recently completed graduate degrees in public administration and education at ASU.

In 2012, Rodríguez co-founded DREAMzone, a comprehensive professional development workshop that provides student leaders, staff and faculty with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to effectively respond to the presence and needs of undocumented college students and ensure they persist through graduation. DREAMzone received accolades at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative University and has acquired a national audience of university administrators and community leaders.

Through the various university committees he serves on, Rodríguez is working to increase access and support for undocumented students, promote diversity and inclusion, resolve campus climate concerns and foster an understanding of ethics. Additionally, he is an active member of the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), a community organization that advocates for and educates on the intersections between the immigrant and LGBTQ communities.

“I am blessed because every day, I get to wake up and live out my mission,” said Rodríguez. “Magic constantly happens all around me at ASU in the simple smiles, during honest conversations and in those moments when I realize we are all growing together."

Elizabeth Cantú, School of Transborder Studies

Elizabeth Cantú is a program manager in the School of Transborder Studies for the Program for Transborder Communities at ASU.

Cantú advocates for educational access and equity for all individuals, immigrant rights and other social justice issues. She is a facilitator for DREAMzone, an ally training program designed to inform the community of the undocumented student experience and encourage individuals to be part of an ally network that provides support for all students on campus.

She also volunteers for programs like Achieving a College Education at South Mountain Community College to assist first-generation and underrepresented students in their homework, to provide advice and resources for how to do well in school and deal with life’s challenges, and to motivate them to go to college.

According to Cantú, at the end of the day, leadership is about the people you serve and the joy that comes from making a difference.

“It is important that we as a Latina/Hispanic community work together with our allies to improve the resources, opportunities and situations of our current and future generations," said Cantú. "If we learn from the past, make note of the present and work toward improving things for the future, we can be the backbone for the success and betterment of our communities.”

The 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Awards were launched by Univision Radio – Phoenix and Valle del Sol, a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health and social services to the Latino community and underserved population in the Phoenix area.