The New York Daily News honored a first-year Ithaca College student with a 2018 Hometown Hero award for raising awareness of transgender issues at his Bronx high school. Ethan Wesley Cepeda spearheaded workshops to teach students and teachers at Careers in Sports High School about bullying and LGBTQ+ issues, and persuaded the school to establish a gender-neutral bathroom.
“Once I was told I was going to receive an award for my achievements and activism, I felt so excited and proud of myself because it was a reminder that everything I do and have done isn’t for nothing,” Cepeda said, who is studying communication management and design at the Roy H. Park School of Communications. “It felt amazing to know that I’ve made an impact on other people’s lives.”
In addition to Cepeda, the Daily News presented Hometown Hero awards to five others, including the principal of a troubled public school, an MTA worker who helped victims of a bombing, an NYPD detective who strengthened ties between community members and the police, a nurse who volunteered in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, and a 75-year-old sanitation worker.
Cepeda was unable to attend the awards ceremony, so his mother Rosemeri Cepeda accepted the award on his behalf.
“I'm proud he won,” she told the Daily News. “He’s a strong person and this is a beautiful award.”
The Hometown Heroes program recognizes the contributions made by New York City’s “unsung heroes” in the categories of education, transit, medical professionals, public service workers and youth. Nominations are submitted by Daily News readers.