Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes will speak at Georgian Court University in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Thursday, October 3, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Casino Ballroom. The event is sponsored by GCU’s Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program in collaboration with the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), the Student Taskforce on Diversity and Inclusion, and TRIO–Student Support Services. The event is open to the public, and no reservations are required.
Joy L. Smith, Ed.D., EOF director, says Ms. Valdes’ background makes her a perfect fit for guest speaker this year. The 1993 Seton Hall University graduate is the first Latina county prosecutor in New Jersey and the first lead prosecutor of Dominican ancestry in the United States. Ms. Valdes has always been a proud champion of EOF as an alumna of Seton Hall’s program and has always been willing to give back to EOF in any way she can, according to Dr. Smith.
“It just made sense to have her talk to our students during Hispanic Heritage Month because she can speak to the experience of being a Latina in that position and what it means to come from an EOF district or an area where college may not have been the ultimate goal or high school counselors may not have seen it as an ultimate goal for their students,” Dr. Smith adds. “She pushed beyond it and accomplished a great feat.”
Ms. Valdes, a Newark native and mother of two, is a career prosecutor who was first appointed in 2009 and again in 2015. Her management responsibilities include approximately 185 assistant prosecutors, a $20 million budget, and oversight of more than 16 municipal police departments. In 2016, the Hispanic Bar Association named her Lawyer of the Year. The EOF event is one of a number of activities planned at GCU in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.