local state legislators for their contributions to their communities.
Torres-Rowe is the executive director and founder of Latina Center MARIA, 30 Menlo Terrace, a nonprofit that provides language classes to Latina women with little or no ability to speak English, continuing education workshops and other services.
"Latina Center MARIA is an emotional and spiritual support group where women share their stories and support each other," Torres-Rowe said in a statement. "Each person who has immigrated to the U.S. has a unique story to tell, a story of challenges and fears, of hope and dreams — a story of how difficult it is to learn a new language, and to integrate into an unfamiliar society and culture. This is a part of my story, and I thank God for giving me energy in difficult times, and for providing opportunities for me to pursue my own education."
Torres-Rowe previously taught at Lynn Public Schools, where she founded the first-ever Spanish National Junior Honor Society.
Members of Latina Center MARIA also participate in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America's School Service Program, in which they support younger English Language Learner (ELL) students.
In addition to her work with Latina Center MARIA, which she founded in 2016, Torres-Rowe has worked with the Roman Catholic Church for more than two decades at parishes in the U.S., Mexico, and Peru, offering ministries that seek to "empower" students and their families by helping them adapt to new cultures and learn the English language.
Torres-Rowe holds a Ph.D. in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University, a master's degree in teaching Spanish from Rivier University, and a master's degree from Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. She has also written "A College Guide for Immigrant Parents," and two other books, "Todas Somos Maria" and "Quieres ser un Lider Exitoso o Trascendente?"
Torres-Rowe was nominated for the award by state Rep. Peter Capano (D-Lynn), who said, "Her many years of work empowering and educating Latina women,
students, and members of Lynn's immigrant community are the embodiment of what this award stands for."