HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – A Northern Kentucky University admissions coordinator has received a prestigious award for her work with Latino and other underrepresented students.

Leyla Peña, who works at NKU as a Coordinator of Multicultural Recruitment, was selected by the League of United Latin American Citizens Cincinnati Council to receive the “Professional Excellence” Award at the LULAC Awards Gala, from 6-10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19, at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

LULAC – the oldest civil rights Hispanic organization in the U.S. – “recognizes and appreciates the significant contributions (Peña) has made to the Hispanic community.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Education: The Gateway to Success.” The LULAC Cincinnati Awards Gala celebrates the positive impact of those who shape the diversity and race relations in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky community. The organization will also award 23 LULAC scholarships to underserved and talented Hispanic students from the tri-state area.

Peña, a native of the Dominican Republic, has worked at NKU since 2011. Previously, she worked for The Spanish Journal a Spanish language newspaper based in Cincinnati. At NKU she specializes in recruitment, and serves as an admissions counselor and coordinator for multicultural programs. She also helps organize Spanish Norse Days and an annual Latino College Fair, which introduces potential students to NKU.

“I have the opportunity to really connect with Latino and other Hispanic students and serve as a facilitator so they can pursue a college education,” Peña said. “I help parents to see their children thrive in college, and it is very rewarding.”

Leo Calderon, who has more than 29 years of experience at NKU and currently serves as the Director of Latino Programs and Services, has worked with Peña and multicultural recruitment over the last four years.

“She has helped to create recruitment strategies for underrepresented populations,” Calderon said. “Working together we’ve been able to be very successful.”

Peña says to be recognized by LULAC is an honor.

“We’re working at NKU to focus on our Latino students’ success,” Peña said. “We want to continue to be the leading university in the region for Latino students.”