AUSTIN (KXAN) — Local organization Con Mi MADRE (CMM) will recognize three Austin women at a gala Saturday for their contributions to the organization’s mission of increasing college access for young Latinas.

The “Con Mi MADRE Corazon Awards” celebrate 15 years of the group’s work with young Latinas and their mothers. The group helps students prepare for and enter college, and teaches moms how they can best support their college-bound daughters.

“Con Mi MADRE is the only non-profit of its kind to focus on the power of the mother-daughter relationship,” reads a press release from the group. “Con Mi MADRE helps young Latina women break barriers and get to college by providing a holistic approach to education that focuses on both social emotional learning and academic success.”

The event will be held at the Junior League of Austin Community Impact Center (5330 Bluffstone Ln, Austin). A ticket is required to attend, and proceeds from those sales go directly back to CMM.

The three women who will receive awards are:

  • Stephanie Bergara, who will receive the Con Mi MADRE Award;
  • Veronica Hinojosa Segura, who will receive the Corazon Award; and,
  • Leticia Mendoza, who will receive the Mariposa Award.

Stephanie Bergara

Stephanie Bergara, recipient of the 2023 Con Mi MADRE award.

Bergara, programming and event manager for Waterloo Greenway, received her award for “serving as an important role model for the young Latinas and their mothers in the CMM program,” according to CMM’s press release.

“It is one of the…greatest honors of my career of my life. It’s very full circle for me to have started working with the organization when I wasn’t a mom,” Bergara said. “Now that I am [a mother] it’s even more special to watch the support for the organization grow and to see so many daughters and also mothers be impacted by the work.”

She started working with CMM in 2010, initially running a table for the group during a career fair at Austin High School. Bergara was also a keynote speaker at CMM’s 2016 “Viva La Girl” conference and has contributed [how else].

“There’s a lot of work that Austinites and we as a community can continue to do to make sure that as many opportunities as possible are available for young women, and young women leaders who look like us and who aspire to be like us,” Bergara said. “So making sure that nobody feels like it’s one seat at the table that you have to fight for. We can make our own table where there’s plenty of room for everyone.”

Veronica Hinojosa Segura

Veronica Hinojosa Segura, recipient of the 2023 Corazon award.

Segura, a University of Texas System controller and associate vice chancellor, and a former CMM board chair, received her award for “significant contributions to the education and empowerment of Latinas,” according to CMM’s press release.

“It’s extremely humbling,” Segura said. “But really, honestly, the true honorees are the mothers and the daughters who have gone through this program, the drive, the dedication and overcoming the obstacles that they’ve had to overcome.”

CMM’s mission of increasing college access for Latinas resonates with Segura, who was herself the first in her family to graduate from college. She said that her own parents lacked the knowledge to fully support her and help connect with resources.

“I think it’s it’s incumbent upon the organization to speak and do outreach to as many mothers as possible,” Segura said. “To the mothers, I would say: Be bold, and empower your daughter to take big steps. Our culture, in general, is very family oriented and [wants] to keep the families close. I would highly encourage the moms to let go — we’re boomerangs, we will eventually come back home.”

Leticia Mendoza

Leticia Mendoza, recipient of the 2023 Mariposa award. (Courtesy Leticia Mendoza)

Mendoza, Texas Disposal Systems’ director of marketing and communications and a former CMM board chair, received her award for “significant contributions she has made in her field and the recognition she has brought to Con Mi MADRE through those contributions,” according to CMM’s press release.

Her work with CMM started while she worked as a public affairs manager for the grocery store chain H-E-B, tasked with Hispanic outreach. At that time, Mendoza was an expectant mother and CMM’s work “spoke to [her] heart.”

“They are taking that relationship between young Latinas and their mothers to create a really strong bond and help them navigate the educational system,” Mendoza said. “My mom and I, we were fortunate to have a really strong bond. But had we had an organization like Con Mi MADRE, I know that it would have even been stronger, we would have known exactly what to do, because we had so many questions.”

Mendoza says that the Mariposa award is an honor with deep personal meaning for her.

“The word ‘Mariposa’ means ‘butterfly’ and Mariposas go through a complete transition,” said Mendoza, elaborating on the growth that young students experience through CMM’s programs. “I don’t just see it as a change for these young ladies. The change for their mothers, the change for the community…how we’re impacting their lives, and that we have the opportunity as a community to do that with them.”