Orphaned by the age 13 (father passed away on Christmas Eve at the age 6 and mother 7 years later) Aurelio Salazar, Jr. was forced to grow up at an early age. A graduate from San Diego State University with a Bachelors Degree in Mexican American Studies, Aurelio has lived a long life of community activism and public service. He has appeared in and interviewed in two national documentaries "Nuestra Familia" and "Latinos '08" which both aired on Public Broadcasting System (PBS). He is also the recipient of the 2003 National LULAC Man of the Year Award. In 2011, Aurelio completed the Community Leadership Project of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, and David and Lucile Packard Foundation. In 2013, Aurelio was named Citizen of the Year for the City of Salinas for his outstanding community service.
A product of East Salinas, Aurelio is a role model and an inspiration for youth who come farm worker parents, orphaned, and living in poverty. Aurelio's message to youth is that we have moral obligation to help one another and that money will not solve our societal problems but that through self-determination, higher education and community service we can problem solve larger community issues.