Majority of Role Models are in Science, Technology, Engineering & Math Fields
PRINCETON, NJ – The HISPA Role Model Bureau, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional Hispanic role models for young students, kicked off its third year with 400 Hispanic professionals ready to support educational programs across New Jersey.
In the past year, HISPA doubled the number of volunteers who are serving as role models, announced Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, president of HISPA, which stands for Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement. The majority of the role models are in the STEM fields: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
“We are excited by the tremendous response from volunteers who believe in HISPA’s vision that we can make a difference in the lives of students across our state who don’t believe they have the capacity to attain higher education,” said Dr. Diaz-Claisse. “In the coming year, we look forward to expanding our efforts to provide critical support for students who more than ever are being affected by the economic conditions in their school districts.”
The Oct. 7th event’s theme was “Inspiring Our Youth, Renewing America’s Hope.” Two Johnson & Johnson employee resource groups hosted the event as part of their Hispanic Heritage Month observance: HOLA (Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement) and AALC (African American Leadership Council).
J&J HOLA and AALC volunteers
Dr. Diaz-Claisse made the announcement about the surge in volunteers at the HISPA 2010 Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event at Johnson & Johnson in Skillman, New Jersey. The event was the latest in HISPA’s ongoing networking opportunities, which are designed to further develop the professionals serving as HISPA role models. Jorge Escobar, a HISPA board member and the organization’s professional development director, facilitated a panel discussion with an audience of about 85 professionals, including current and new role models, sponsors and other supporters.
Panelists: Phyllis Barajas (Conexion), Rene Herrera (Verizon), Walter Joppy (J&J AALC)
Dr. Diaz-Claisse also announced that HISPA offices are now located at the ETS campus in Princeton, New Jersey. Frank Gomez, Strategic Alliances and Public Affairs Executive at ETS, was the keynote speaker.
“Today’s young Latinos will be leaders by default in the next generation, when one in five Americans will be of Hispanic origin,” Gomez told the audience. “With your guidance and your example, you continue to inspire youngsters in ways that shape their destiny.”
One of HISPA’s key strategies is to support existing educational programs in which at least half of the students are Hispanic. In the past two years, members of HISPA’s Role Model Bureau have shared their life stories – with an emphasis on educational achievements and professional accomplishments – during visits with more than 2,500 students, providing them an opportunity to learn about career possibilities in a variety of fields, including business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Recurring HISPA Role Model Programs will be held in New Brunswick, Trenton, Newark, Perth Amboy, Freehold, Red Bank, Summit and Jersey City. And in line with its mission to partner with existing organizations that have mentoring programs, HISPA also continues supporting Hudson County-based Save Latin America’s “Reaching Our Dreams” mentoring program, which is run by Johnny Torres, in Passaic, Paterson and Jersey City.
The HISPA Role Model Program has received support from numerous organizations, including: AT&T Foundation via a nomination from their employee resource group HACEMOS; Freehold Borough Educational Foundation; ETS; Wells Fargo Foundation and the Foundation of the New Jersey District of Kiwanis International.
In addition to the visits with students, HISPA has held two youth conferences at Princeton University, in June 2009 and June 2010. A third conference was held Oct. 21, 2010 in Dallas, Texas, in a partnership between HISPA and AT&T’s HACEMOS.
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