Hats off to Genesis Diaz, James Madison High School student and the grand prize winner of the Altice USA Hispanic Heritage Month Essay Contest in the high school category in the Optimum service area.
Diaz’s essay about Cuban singer Celia Cruz earned her the first prize in the contest, and organizers and local Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Madison) honored the student with a check for $1,500 at the school on Jan. 4, which she said was surprising and encouraging for her.
“It feels amazing to be the winner. I was so surprised and emotional when my teacher told me the news,” the Cypress Hill resident said. “People always praise my writing and potential but I can’t ever take a compliment. Winning this contest has confirmed that writing truly is my gift and that I am capable of great things.”
Altice USA launched its annual essay contest last fall in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month and asked middle and high school students in its Optimum and Suddenlink service areas to “Name a Latino, past or present, with whom you would choose to spend a day and explain why.”
Diaz penned her essay on Cruz, who was one of the most popular musicians from the island during the 20th century and rose to even more prominence in American exile after the Cuban revolution, inspiring Diaz to write about her for her work as an artist and her influence on Latinx culture.
“Her accomplishments were revolutionary,” Diaz said. “I felt like writing about her was necessary to bring recognition not only to her contributions to Latinx culture, but our society as well.”
— Kevin Duggan