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.