By Michelle Peal
Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) held its annual awards gala, the Three Kings Banquet, on January 10, 2019, at Pines Manor in Edison, NJ. HISPA mobilizes Latino professionals to serve as role models in educational programs in their communities, and some 300 leaders from the public and private sectors gathered to celebrate the contributions of more than 2,500 Hispanic role models.
“Today, HISPA is over 2,500 role models strong,” said Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, HISPA CEO. “Tonight’s awardees are just a few shining examples of our role models’ bravery and what each of our individual contributions can do to make a real difference in young peoples’ lives.”
HISPA volunteers visit middle schools, participate in youth conferences and other programs with one common goal: to inspire students to stay in school, pursue higher education and achieve their dreams. Since its 2007 founding in New Jersey, HISPA has extended its Role Model Programs to Texas, New York, and Florida.
One highlight of the evening is the awards presentation recognizing those who have excelled in their personal commitment and financial support of HISPA’s mission. The following organizations and individuals received awards:
Corazon Award – St. Mary’s University
Leadership in Mentoring Award – Latino Networks Coalition
Share Award: Role Model of the Year – Joe Vincente, UPS
Inspire Award: Champion of the Year – Claudia Vazquez, Prudential Financial
Transform Award: Sponsor of the Year – Verizon Foundation
“It’s a partnership that has grown and blossomed, and we’ve been able to do some really great stuff,” said John Carrillo, director, Outreach Initiatives, St. Mary’s University. St. Mary’s has hosted HISPA’s San Antonio Youth Conference for five years now. “We do try our best to go above and beyond and try to provide the best service to the organization.”
“With the kids we try to tell them don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to network. Get involved,” said Joe Vicente, IT Manager, UPS.
“I feel very honored to have the support of my company to be able to achieve so much for the students. We’ve been able to help over 100 students, and I feel proud of the opportunity I have received,” said Claudia Vazquez, director, Product Management & Transformation Initiatives, Prudential Financial.
“Latino youth are very important, and as professionals we want to make sure our youth know that we were once in their shoes and that their dreams are possible,” said Alicia Garcia, Latino Networks.
“We’re very happy to be able to help with the magnificent work of HISPA. You don’t do these things to win, but it’s nice to be recognized,” said Martin Lopez, portfolio manager, Verizon.
The Three Kings Banquet coincides with the January 6 holiday of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, the traditional gift-giving period of the Nativity in Spanish-speaking countries. HISPA selected this theme to thank the volunteers and patrons who share their gifts in support of educational equity and opportunity for Hispanics.
Princeton, NJ – Corporate and other leaders who help advance Hispanic youth education and careers will be honored at the annual Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) Three Kings Banquet on January 10. To take place at Pines Manor in Edison, NJ, it will gather some 300 public and private sector leaders, educators and elected officials.
A nonprofit organization active in New Jersey, New York, Texas and Florida, HISPA has mobilized some 2,500 role models to inspire some 11,000 students to date. Their message: they, too, can fulfill their potential and achieve their dreams through education.
The Three Kings Banquet coincides with the January 6 feast of the Epiphany, known as Three Kings Day, the gift-giving period in Spanish-speaking countries. HISPA recently marked its 1,000th classroom visit where Hispanic role models shared their stories of perseverance to inspire middle school students to excel. HISPA selected this theme to thank persons who share their gifts in support of educational opportunity for Hispanics.
HISPA honors those who excel in their commitment to, participation in and financial support of the programs. The “Transform” Award for Sponsor of the Year will go to the Verizon Foundation, its “Inspire” Award for Champion of the Year to Claudia Vazquez of Prudential and its “Share” Award for Role Model of the Year to Joe Vicente of UPS. The Latino Networks Coalition will receive the Leadership in Mentoring Award, while St. Mary’s University will receive the “Corazón” Award given to organizations that support HISPA via in-kind support.
Gold Sponsor Prudential, Silver Sponsors AT&T and PSEG, and Bronze Sponsors Bristol-Myers Squibb, PNC Bank and UPS will support the event. HISPA also extends a special thank you to Investors Bank, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Merck, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Comcast and Manolo’s Chili.
“This event celebrates the Latino professionals across sectors who have joined forces to step into classrooms and validate students’ visions for their futures,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse.
“This year is very special, as we surpassed 1,000 classroom visits,” she added, “That means thousands of role models and supporting entities believe in the power of our voices. They have accepted our invitation to unite and bring role models to our youth.”
HISPA’s educational programs are made possible by Co-founding Partner the Verizon Foundation. Annual Partners are Educational Testing Service, the PSEG Foundation, Visa, and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner. Annual Supporters are Merck and Wells Fargo.