Business

Edgar Martinez shows his support for Bellevue Latino students

Former Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez shares a moment with Leticia Lucero, founder of the Camino Foundation, at the annual Dining Out for Higher Education Luncheon. - Photo by Lindsay Larin/Bellevue Reporter
Former Seattle Mariner Edgar Martinez shares a moment with Leticia Lucero, founder of the Camino Foundation, at the annual Dining Out for Higher Education Luncheon.
— image credit: Photo by Lindsay Larin/Bellevue Reporter

A number of familiar faces turned out to show their support on Sunday at the Camino Foundation's annual Dining Out for Higher Education Luncheon in Bellevue.

Former Seattle Mariner Edgar Martínez joined his good friend Leticia Lucero, founder and current board member of the Camino Foundation, to present Kent School District superintendent Dr. Edward Lee Vargas with the E2 Award for his commendable impact on education for Latino students.

Bellevue superintendent Dr. Amalia Cudeiro and Director of Communications Anne Oxrieder were also in attendance to show their support for Bellevue students and the Latino community.

Now in its fifth year, the Camino Foundation was started by Lucero after she felt prompted to help a local Latino student with tuition costs to attend the University of Washington.

"Here was a girl with the grades, the drive and the acceptance letter, but because her citizenship was delayed, she was not going to eligible for financial aid," Lucero explained. "I wanted to see her succeed so I helped raise donations to cover the costs. During the process, I realized I had found my calling."

The Camino Foundation raises support and donations for the Hispanic youth residing in the Bellevue community who want to pursue higher education.

Maria Valdesuso, a Camino Foundation board member, has worked with Bellevue students for more than 20 years.

"You can't play monopoly if you don't know the rules," she explained, to the room of 150 people attending the luncheon. "We need to work with students and parents to show them the rules and how to navigate our school system."

According to Valdesuso, 96 percent of the students supported by the Camino Foundation graduate college with an overall GPA above a 3.0. Several of those students have earned college degrees, started careers, and become mentors themselves.

The Camino Foundation provides additional support beyond financial means, including mentoring opportunities, help with the college application process, and navigating the financial aid process.

Since 2004, the Camino Foundation has helped support 29 Latino students in the Bellevue community.

"Our goal is to open doors," Valdesuso said, adding, "To be educated is to be free."

To learn more about the Camino Foundation, visit www.caminofoundation.org.

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