The National Puerto Rican Day parade, which drew nearly two million spectators crowding both sides of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan last weekend, focused on celebrating Puerto Rican heritage. Marchers included stars of stage, screen, and music, most of whom were greeted by deafening cheers of adoration.

However, there were other stars who were honored this year, and these distinguished leaders were celebrated at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade’s 2009 Education Leadership Project Awards Banquet, held in the Mediterranean seaside villa ambiance of the Bronx’s Marina del Rey on May 13.

College of Staten Island (CSI) President Tomás D. Morales, PhD, was one of the honorees recognized for his significant contribution to the advancement of education in New York State, and acknowledged for his commitment to upholding the highest standards of academic excellence and for producing a legacy of meaningful achievement in students.

“In reflecting positively on the merits of your professional work, you can be certain that you are a source of pride among New York State’s greater Hispanic community,” wrote New York Governor David A. Paterson.

“The National Puerto Rican Day Parade and its board of directors have a great legacy of celebrating the influence and achievements of Puerto Ricans and Latinos in the city,” commented Dr. Morales, “and I am proud to be awarded this distinguished recognition this year. I am also grateful to all the honorees for their commitment to opening the doors to a strong educational foundation for our youth.”

Among the honorees were Rita DiMartino, MPA, a Trustee of The City University of New York and alumnae of the College of Staten Island.

Other honorees included: Carmen Alvarez, Vice President for Special Education, United Federation of Teachers; Maria De Los Angeles Barreto, Principal, J.H.S. 296; Eddy Bayardelle, President, Merrill Lynch Foundation; Rita DiMartino, MPA, Trustee, The City University of New York; Nydia Rodriguez-Edgecombe, Director, Alumni Relations, Hostos Community College; Harriet R. Feldman, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean, Lienhard School of Nursing, Pace University; Jacqueline Bocachica Gonzalez, Executive Officer for Instruction, Integrated Curriculum, Inc., Learning Support Organization; Evelyn Hey, Principal, South Bronx Charter School for International Cultures and Arts; Zoilo Rodriguez, Sr., Executive Assistant, New York State United Teachers; Pedro Santana, Principal, Middle School 391; Michael G. Scales, PhD, President, Nyack College & Alliance Theological Seminary; and Domingo Torres, Jr., SETSS/CTT,Renaissance High School of Musical Theater and Technology.

Dr. Morales was honored for his significant contribution to the advancement of education in NYS.