The UCLA Latino Alumni Association will honor Patricia Pérez, CEO of the Latino-owned public relations firm VPE Tradigital Communications, and Earl Watson, former Bruin, who played 13 seasons in the NBA and became the league’s first head coach of Hispanic descent.

Pérez and Watson will be recognized as the Latino Alumni Association’s alumna and alumni of the year on Thursday, Oct. 10, at the Fiesta de Inspiración Scholarship and Alumni Awards Gala. This year’s gala event will also celebrate the association’s three decades of commitment to inspiring Latino students, alumni and friends.

The association champions future UCLA Latino alumni leaders and has awarded $1.5 million in scholarships to more than 800 students. In 2019, the UCLA Alumni Association named the UCLA Latino Alumni Association the Network of the Year.

“It has been an outstanding year and we want Fiesta de Inspiración 2019 to be a celebration of those accomplishments,” said Soleil Delgadillo, president of the UCLA Latino Alumni Association and a 2009 UCLA graduate.. “This year we’ve chosen to honor former ULAA President Patricia Pérez and four-year UCLA basketball starter and former NBA coach Earl Watson. They are the perfect representation of Latino Bruins who are accomplished in their fields and active in the community,”

As CEO of VPE Tradigital Communications, Pérez, who graduated in 1987, works with corporations and nonprofit organizations to promote the purchasing power of minorities. The association is honoring Pérez for her support of communities of color in Los Angeles. Pérez also serves as president of the American Association of Retired Persons California, advocating for investment in Latino communities.

Watson, who just earned his degree in 2019, has broken barriers for Latinos both on and off the basketball court. In addition to being the first NBA head coach of Hispanic descent, Watson is also the first former Bruin player to be a head coach in the NBA. He has also been recognized for his work promoting basketball in Latino communities, and helping students prepare for college through Project EARL: Encouraging All to Reach for Learning.

Each year, Fiesta de Inspiración honors two alumni, and past recipients include:   

  • Lisa Fernandez, UCLA softball assistant coach and three-time Olympic medalist, who graduated in 1995
  • Gil Garcetti, former Los Angeles County district attorney and photographer, who graduated from UCLA School of Law in 1967   
  • Linda L. Alvarez, award-winning journalist, who graduated in 1963
  • Antonia Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles, who graduated in 1977
  • Dan Guerrero, UCLA athletic director, who graduated in 1974

As one of UCLA’s fastest growing alumni associations, with a membership of more than 41,000, the UCLA Latino Alumni Association is aiming to increase scholarship support through its UCLA Latino Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund to $1 million.

For more information or to RSVP, visit uclafiesta.org.