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Christian Palacio Perez receives Warren Wilson College’s highest honor


Christian Palacio Perez ’24 has received the 2024 Alton F. Pfaff Cup, Warren Wilson College’s highest honor given to a graduating senior. 


During his time at Warren Wilson, Palacio Perez served as president of the Latinx Student Collective, held two internships with Bounty & Soul Latino and El Centro in Hendersonville, and worked on the Bonner crew as part of the national Bonner Leaders Program as well as the Wilson Inclusion Diversity Equity (WIDE) crew


Palacio Perez graduated with a major in history and political science. For his senior capstone project, “Radicalism and the Media: Ricardo Flores Magon and the Mexican Revolution of 1910,” he gained a broader understanding of the Magonista movement and the impact it had on the Mexican Revolution. One of his nominators said it was the best capstone presentation they had ever witnessed. 


“I found this research to not only enrich my relationship with academia but also with my own Mexican heritage,” Palacio Perez said. “I became able to connect the dots of the stories I’d heard at family gatherings, and in the quiet mornings drinking coffee with my grandpa.”


He and his friends formed a study group, and invited his entire cohort to participate. He said “what resulted was several hour-long conversations that connected the convoluted histories and politics of the world. From dictators coming into power, to revolutionaries fighting for change, we analyzed the patterns that power followed and the universality of oppression and resistance.”


Palacio Perez worked with El Centro in Hendersonville through both his work on the Bonner crew and his community engagement requirements. He taught and did live English-to-Spanish translation for classes designed to give Spanish-speaking alternative students (typically adults) a chance to get a diploma of high school equivalency. He later assumed leadership over both classes, making lesson plans, finding outside resources and providing engaging learning environments within the confines of virtual learning due to COVID.


For his internship with Bounty & Soul Latino, Palacio Perez worked with Latin markets to design the weekly nourishment guides, a collection of healthy recipes, activities and alternatives that aligned with Latin diets. Before markets began, he would rush out of class and head to the Bounty and Soul office to pick up tables, baskets and anything else his supervisor might need for the market that week.


“My favorite part of this internship was being able to build relationships with the families,” Palacio Perez said. “It was so good to hear about their week and catch up as I helped them carry their bags to their car or house. I found that the market gave me a sense of home away from home. Working for Bounty and Soul Latino will forever be one of my favorite experiences.”


On campus, Palacio Perez  served as a resident assistant (RA), a peer group leader and an orientation week leader. As co-president of the Latinx Student Collective, Palacio Perez planned annual Pachanga events and Dia de los Muertos event, and he worked to forge bonds between the Latinx Student Collective and various Latinx organizations in Asheville and Buncombe County. Other on-campus achievements included winning both a Peace and Service Award and a General work award.


“Christian was a phenomenal RA, probably one of the best,” said Brianna  Martin, one of his work crew supervisors. “Christian melds optimism and humor with intentionality and compassionate leadership. He has a clear positive influence on the rest of the team. He has had a grounding, welcoming presence on the crew that will inspire students even after his departure. He is reliable and incredibly easy to work with. He energizes everyone that he interacts with. He instilled a sense of community and support that has had a lasting effect on the culture of the WIDE Crew.”


Since 1942, the Alton F. Pfaff Cup has been awarded to a graduating senior who demonstrates integrity, common sense, a willingness to work and a commitment to growth and progress. Pfaff was a 1929 graduate of the Asheville Farm School. He served as president of the Warren Wilson College Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees.


The Pfaff Cup is awarded to students who excel in all areas of the College’s academic program — academics, work, community engagement and campus life. Nominations are solicited from the community, and a committee of faculty and staff chooses a finalist to appear on a ballot given to all employees who vote for a winner.


This year’s Pfaff Cup was made by Warren Wilson College fine woodworking instructor Ben Blackmar. This year’s trophy is made from cherry and black walnut, wood harvested from the Warren Wilson College campus.

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