2023 Kermes winners and judges

The annual Alianza Coachella Valley Kermes, a youth soapbox speech competition, was held on Saturday, December 16, 2023 at Desert Mirage High School. Hosted by Alianza’s Youth Organizing Council (YoC!), 10 youth from the Eastern Coachella Valley presented short speeches that included calls to action to improve their communities. Their speeches were presented in front of a panel of judges from across the region in order to win scholarships. The panel of judges this year included:

  • Cristian Ojeda – CROJEDA, Certified Public Accountants
  • Perla Penalber – Coachella Valley High School
  • Miguel Vazquez – Riverside University Health Systems
  • Shayra Hernandez – Office of Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz
  • Evelia Cabrera – YoC! Alumna
  • Sergio Rodriguez – Desert Healthcare District
  • Dr. Valentino – Superintendent, Coachella Valley Unified School District
  • Natalia Gonzalez – Desert Recreation District

After tallying up the scores, we are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s competition!

  1. Ashley Hernandez – $1,000 scholarship
  2. Karen Mosqueda – $700 scholarship
  3. Valeria Romero – $400 scholarship

Congratulations to the winners and to all youth who participated! It takes a lot of courage to speak in front of people about the issues you care about, and we are so proud that you shared what is important to you with all of us. Alianza’s YoC! prepares young people to be the Eastern Coachella Valley’s future leaders by helping them put their values into words and their words into actions. Through group discussions, members examine how race, class, gender, and immigration status shape personal experiences and the wider community. After gaining an understanding of local issues, they work alongside Alianza’s diverse coalition to raise awareness and take steps to bring about long-term change by addressing the root causes of systemic problems.

After the soapbox speech competition, attendees enjoyed delicious food, participated in fun activities, and listened to great music by the Felix Romero Band.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s Kermes!