Daniel Hernandez was applauded at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute's annual conference.
Hernandez works for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who is recovering after being critically wounded.
Both he and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois condemned hateful speech.
"I hope that one of the things that has come out of this tragedy is more engaged younger people, and a more engaged and civil political discourse," Hernandez said.
"In the United States Senate, since the tragedy in Tucson, things have changed. The environment is better -- not dramatically better -- but better," Durbin said.
Durbin received a standing ovation at the conference luncheon when the institute honored him for helping pass health care reform.