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Honoree Profiles

KPBS Celebrates Diversity

Gracia Molina Enriquez de Pick - Hispanic Heritage Honoree

Every year, KPBS recognizes heroes in San Diego's diverse communities. It's part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, and made possible through our long-standing partnership with Union Bank.

We're taking nominations for Hispanic Heritage, Disability Awareness and American Indian Heritage months until May 25, 2014.

Nominate a Hero Now

Local Hero Vickie Turner Dreams With Her Eyes Open

March 3
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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For Vickie E. Turner, becoming a lawyer wasn’t a childhood dream, but as an accountant for the Las Vegas Gaming Commission, she felt that something was lacking and wanted more. Then a friend told her he was heading to San Diego for law school. The thought intrigued her, so she went along, figuring she'd just test the waters.

Child of Nature, M. Eloise Battle, Works to Preserve Tecolote Canyon

Feb. 28
By Monica Medina
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Most people seem to have a phobia about rats, and that's just what the boys in M. Eloise Battle's school were counting on the day they tossed a large, dead one right into her bicycle basket. Battle, who was in the seventh grade at the time, didn’t notice at first, but when she did see the specimen in her basket, she exclaimed with glee, "Oh boy! I can practice mounting this!"

Montford Point Marines Jackson, Inge & Reavis: The Story Continues

Black History Month 2014 Honorees

Feb. 4
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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The Montford Point Marines are a little known part of U.S. military history. Born out of necessity, when African American men were first drafted to serve in World War II, the legacy of the Marines who trained at Montford Point in North Carolina is a mirror of the times, back when segregation and discrimination were par for the course.

In the Presence of Greatness: Montford Point Marines Jackson, Inge & Reavis

Black History Month 2014 Honorees

Feb. 3
By Monica Medina
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True heroism. You can see it in their hands, brown and weathered. Their long fingers, slightly bent from the weight of the load they've had to carry. It's in their faces too, which exemplify a quiet dignity, and in their eyes, which glisten like gems from beneath the Pacific. An homage perhaps, to their time in Hawaii, Saipan, Guam and Okinawa. The crevices that line their faces and their somber, knowing smiles reveal a measure of the life they've lived.

Cosmetologist Tessie Bonner Saves Lives Through Breast Cancer Prevention

Black History Month 2014 Honoree

Jan. 31
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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Tessie Bonner considers herself a "church lady," given that her religious beliefs are at the core of who she is and how she lives her life. But Bonner, whose friends and close associates tend to also think of her as "the little engine that could," seems to be so much more than any one label.

Rose-Margaret Orrantia Finds Purpose in Helping American Indian Foster Youth

American Indian Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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Rose-Margaret Orrantia has spent a lifetime working to help American Indian children in the foster care system. After all, helping children is where her heart has led her. And helping to place these children in American Indian homes has been her way of giving back to her community and ensuring its future.

Kumeyaay Elder Jane Dumas Keeps Language & Plant Lore Alive

American Indian Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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On a bright and clear weekend morning in early October, there’s a flutter of activity at San Diego’s Tecolote Nature Center as staff get ready for an annual family activity, “Baskets and Botany.” The one-day event, which has been held there since the mid-'90s, is a day for families to share the environmental and cultural connections of Tecolote Canyon.

Linda Bounds on Being Boundless

Disability Awareness Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 1
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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Linda Bounds is a petite, sprightly woman with a lot of heart and grit. No longer wanting to be defined by others, she began to pursue her passion, living life on her terms and doing what she loved most: art.

Al Kovach Finds A New Way To Serve His Country

Disability Awareness Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 1
By Monica Medina
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Al Kovach, Jr., looks a lot like Steve McQueen. In fact, in his Navy days, he was known as Petty Officer McQueen, just because of his strong resemblance to the actor known as "The King of Cool."

Fabiola Navarro, Local Hero & Human Rights Activist

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Sept. 13
By Monica Medina
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The world is filled with injustice. All you need do is pick up a newspaper or go online and you’ll find a litany of human rights violations—victims of torture and kidnappings, people being sent to prison camps by their own government, women suffering untold abuse at the hands of their husbands or fathers while authorities look the other way, and children being forced into labor and prostitution. Here in San Diego, Chilean-born Fabiola Navarro sees fighting such human rights violations as a life-long cause.

Andrea Skorepa Advocates for San Ysidro

Hispanic Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Sept. 13
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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Andrea Skorepa is a Hispanic Heritage Month Local Hero who lives and breathes San Ysidro – both as a passionate advocate, and as a life-long resident of the town by the border.

Vinnie Pompei Creates Safe Haven for LGBT Children

LGBT Pride Month 2013 Honoree

June 6
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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Vincent “Vinnie” Pompei will never forget the first time he witnessed the bullying. He was a newly-hired teacher at a Los Angeles County middle school. It was recess, and when he heard the words one child shouted to another, it struck a chord deep inside, leaving him cold and shaking.

LGBT Local Heroes Max Disposti and Carolyn Bolton Achieve Success Together

LGBT Pride Month 2013 Honoree

June 6
By Monica Medina
1 Comment
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When it comes to collaboration, seems to me that the key to success is in finding balance. At least, that’s been the case for Max Disposti and Carolyn Bolton, who for the past five years have been working together effectively. And, the way they make it work is by building on each other’s strengths.

Sophak Yem Stands Up For Human Rights

Asian Pacific Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

May 15
By Monica Medina
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There are little girls who dream of princesses, playing with friends, or discovering a new and exciting book. And, there is Sophak Yem. What she longed for were gooseberries, a bright green berry that grows wild in Cambodia and has a particularly tart taste. Gooseberries. How she loved them when served with a mixture of salt and chili mixture. For Yem, a 2013 Asian Pacific Heritage Month Local Hero honoree, growing up in a Cambodian concentration camp, gooseberries represented one of the few joys in her young life.

Elmer Bisarra Helps HIV Patients Heal

Asian Pacific Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

May 15
By Monica Medina
0 Comments
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Elmer Bisarra learned early on what was expected of him. As the son of a Filipino father and a Chinese Hawaiian mother, he knew that the man is supposed to be the provider for his family, and that women serve best as educators, healers and nurturers. He remembers how this belief was embedded in his culture, passed down to him by his parents.

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