Leeslie Shakira Herrera Receives 2023 Aguila Award

May 8, 2023

Leeslie Shakira Herrera is a Senior studying Criminal Justice and the recipient of a 2023 César E. Chávez and Dolores Huerta Community Leadership Aguila Award.

The Aguila Award is given to “an individual who has shown courage, dedication, and a commitment to make MSU a better place who also exudes a spirit of inclusiveness, equality, and cultural commitment to diversity.”

We sat down with Leeslie to discuss her achievements and her plans for the near future.


How does it feel to be recognized with the Aguila Award?

I am honored to have been one of the two students to receive the Aguila Award. I do activism and advocacy for my communities, and stand in solidarity with other communities, because I have the privilege of speaking up. Speaking up for those who can't because of fear of retaliation.  Most of these communities are the unseen communities of America, especially the farm working community. So, my identities as a farmworker, daughter and granddaughter of farm workers, and Chicana/Latina, allow me to be able to speak very first-hand about our struggles and experiences. So, it is always an honor to be recognized for work that I do because I am passionate about it. 


What interested you in studying Criminal Justice and minoring in Chicano Latino Studies?

I became interested in Criminal Justice because growing up in a border town of Texas there was always a heavy law enforcement presence. Our schools had a lot of programing against drugs because drug abuse was strong in the area amongst teens and adults. There is also Red-Ribbon week in Texas that was started in Honor of a DEA undercover agent, Kiki Camarena, who was about to bust a multimillion cocaine and marijuana operation in 1985 but was kidnapped and murdered by a Mexican Cartel. So, I was always amazed and wanted to learn more about the people and agents helping change happen in our communities. I was also always a part of student organizations that promoted this type of programming against drugs and bullies.

I became interested in the Chicano/Latino Studies minor because as a Mexican American I didn't get the full history of Mexico or Latin America unless I went looking for that information. I think it is a very neat minor to educate oneself about the community, culture, and the history. And the professors for this minor are amazing. 


What are your plans after graduation?

Finally, my plans after I graduate with my bachelor's in criminal justice and my minor in Chicano Latino Studies, is to possibly continue my education here at MSU. I applied to the Cybercrime and Digital Investigations master's Program, but am currently waiting to hear back, and hopefully it’s an acceptance. 

Photo of Leeslie Shakira Herrera