Scholar Class – 2009
Ruben Ortega Jr. was born in El Paso, TX, but relocated to Albuquerque, NM during the 8th grade. Because of a lack of friends and isolation [from peers], Ruben moved back to El Paso to live with relatives in order to become more active in his high school and community. After coming out in his junior year, Ruben felt it would be best to return to his accepting parents in Albuquerque where he could fully express himself. He immediately became an active member in the LGBT community.
Ruben has dedicated much of his time to furthering human rights in New Mexico. He has lobbied the New Mexico State Legislature to fight for equal rights for LGBT citizens and has volunteered for Equality New Mexico and PFLAG. Ruben has also been actively involved in activities at his school by serving as a Student Body Officer and as President of Eldorado High School's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) where he has created the ABQ GSA Network, which hosts a variety of events for the LGBT youth. He has worked with the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in two of their selective programs: Students of Color Organizing Conference and Safe Schools Advocacy Summit.
His inspiration comes from what this community has taught him: be free to express yourself, be proud of who you are and empower others to do the same. Ruben will be attending Cornell University School of Hotel Administration to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Administration and a Minor in Real Estate.