Archive for August, 2019

We Did It! An Unforgettable 28th Youth Conference

Dear HISPA Role Models, Youth Conference volunteers and partners:

The HISPA team and Board of Directors would like to thank you for making the 2019 HISPA Youth Conference at Princeton University—our 28th conference to date—an extraordinary success for students and volunteers! This year, HISPA and 92 dedicated volunteers welcomed 149 students from Elizabeth, Hamilton, Passaic, Perth Amboy, Summit and Trenton. Together, we were able to provide these students engaging workshops and encouraging speakers, including the State of New Jersey’s Center for Hispanic Policy Research and Development’s (CHPRD) and the NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellows. A special recognition and thank you to the CHPRD team: Sara Peña, Maria Miranda and Luisa Soto.

We would like to express our gratitude for your collaboration, time, effort, and support before the conference and throughout the day.

We begin by thanking our co-sponsor, Princeton University’s Office of Human Resources, for having us once again and for supporting all event premises and logistics. Thank you to Clara Stillwagon for offering welcoming remarks and representing Princeton’s HR team. We thank Ivette Martinez-Rivera for her support and motivation to continue powering such an amazing event, as well as Sally J. Buchanan for working hand-in-hand with Ivette in planning, scheduling, and answering all inquiries leading up to the event. Thanks to Vincent Stanley for leading logistical arrangements, setting up and sorting out all needs as they arose with a great calm and initiative. To Dan Walker and Calvin for on-site support at Frist Campus Center and providing top of the line technology and support throughout the day. And to Brenda Wood and the Campus Dining & Catering team for making sure all attendees were well taken care of with great service.

Thank you to our keynote speakers Dr. Dan-El Padilla Peralta for sharing his personal story and being a brilliant example of perseverance and success, and Minué Yoshida for her wonderful interactive presentation. We also thank Arturo Dominguez, Shannon Swilley Greco and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory volunteers for enthusiastically leading students through such an engaging workshop.

From the Graduate School at Princeton University, we thank Dr. Vanessa Gonzalez-Perez for sharing her story and experiences and for working alongside Joel Boggess to co-host lunch and arrange the educational and informative session and panel for the ‘Latinos in College’ track.

Thanks to the Office Provost for hosting the HISPA Role Models Networking Reception and for providing food and refreshments to the Latinos in College track volunteers and students. Thank you to Kevin Hudson for offering closing remarks and to Michele Minter for her continual support. We also thank the Princeton faculty, staff and Latino Princetonians who participated in the conference as partners and volunteers, led by Damaris Zayas and supported by Denise Valenti and Maria Sofia Delmastro. We are immensely grateful to have such a network of support from the Princeton community!

Thank you to Lead Sponsor Merck and MHO for providing a workshop for students and donating giveaway items. We were proud to have such an inspirational leader and role model Danila Giacone to plan, coordinate and lead the Merck workshop as well as assemble, coordinate and prepare the Merck volunteers: Brenda Valle Colon, Francisco Martinez, Michael Conuel, Patricia Jimenez, Maribel Cordero, Corina Norma Funez, Sandra Bautista Cid, Alan Bautista Cid, Jesus Guzman Vale and Eduardo Perez. Thank you to Itzia Arroyo for her support and great energy and as always to Alex Ibanez for being a liaison, amazing leader of the Merck team, and champion for all our programs.

Thank you to Lead Sponsors Novartis and Wells Fargo. Thank you to Sponsor Bristol-Myers Squibb and those from OLA for their assistance setting up the conference and engaging students in STEM during your hands-on workshop. To workshop leader Tony Rodriguez and volunteers Sandra Re, Elvira Bruscke, Alma Plasencia, Jairo Torres, Consuelo Ramos, Marcelo Couto, Leticia Ferri, Tulio Teixeira, Radha Ramakrishnan, Nicolas Fuentes, Claudia Generaux, Matteo Couto Frignani and Rafael Vega. Special thanks to Diana Gabriel and Kristina Gabriel for leading and coordinating workshop presenters and volunteer logistics throughout the day.

Thank you to Sponsor ETS. A special thanks to Damaris Garcia, who year after year plays a leading role in coordinating volunteers, registration tables, and event schedule. To Ruth Nicolai for the great partnership and wonderful donation of giveaway items. To Harry L. Davis for delivering all items to the conference premises. To President and CEO Walt MacDonald for his continuous support. To Lenora Green for her year-round guidance and championship; to Terri Flowers for her hands-on support during event planning and execution. Thanks to Diego Zapata-Rivera, René Lawless, Blair Lehman, Malcolm Bauer, Ian Blood, Florencia Tolentino and Kunle Babatunde for leading the ETS workshop with such positive energy and enthusiasm; and to Robert Finnegan, who made sure all the pieces were set and in place. Thank you to Rita Nini, Maria Hazell and Sylvia Ledesma for recruiting volunteers and preparing the giveaways with the support of Kathleen Bucchi, Maria Giraldo, Debra Gonzales, Kitara Washington, Nancy Waters and Erica Sokol.

Thank you to Sponsor PSEG and Adelante for their powerful participation. To Jorge L. Cardenas for serving as Master of Ceremonies and leading the morning session. And to the Adelante team for preparing two outstanding workshops for the students under the leadership of Fatima Calcado, Jennyfer Guerrero, Alanzo White and Antonio Fernandez, with the support of Tony Suppa, Utsav Khandelwal, Carmen Wiggins, Bianca Reyes and Marisol Ramirez.

We thank Collaborator Comcast for their financial support and a heartfelt thank you to Kimberly Smith for her championship of HISPA’s mission.

We thank Collaborators UPS and Crecer for supporting, planning and executing the morning hands-on activity: Steve Cox, Reynier Herrera, Adriana Wilson, Julio Minaya, Carlos Muñoz, Laralisa Hovland, Miriam Arocho and Brian Madden. And to Viviana Encarnacion, who ensured UPS presence by donating giveaways and coordinating UPS volunteers. The HISPA Role Models and Students Networking Session was an energizing start to the day and your support made it possible! Special thanks to Axel Carrion for sharing his expertise and passion during the Lessons in Career and Leadership panel for our university students.

We also thank Verizon and commend Nelson Caballero and Odiles Cardines for their leadership and great work throughout the year. Thank you to Ivan Berg for donating conference goodie items. Thank you for leading your workshop with the support of Alizanette Rodriguez, Ana G. Lua, Susana J. Corona, Karen Sebastian, Victor J. Romo-Aledo, Margaret Jasul Vazquez, Sameer M Melwani, Kelsi Stephanie Morrison, Michael Mallotides, Angeline Lopez, Jeffrey Torres, Michael Black, Stephanie Marie Black, Laura Colon, Leoncio Gomez and Portia Stewart.

Thanks to AT&T for their support as the co-hosts of the Latinos in College track, as well as for the volunteerism of the AT&T Aspire, oxyGEN and HACEMOS teams, particularly the workshop presentation led by and Christine Liu, Karla Kimble, Raymond Hu, Jason Swatsworth, Phillip Cunningham, and Pedro Mirabal. To Mayra Caceres whose constant passion allowed her to lead the HISPA Youth Conference and Latinos in College track with such grace. And to Celeste Carrasco for serving as Master of Ceremonies during the Latinos in College track morning session and for leading the panel to empower our college students and Fellows.

To Claudia Vasquez from Prudential and SOMOS for her leadership and support of tasks throughout the day as well as for being part of the panel for the college students and Fellows.

Thank you to the NJ Governor’s Hispanic Fellows Program alumni: Michelle Perez for being part of the panel and inspiring us with your story, Dania Arias for her powerful opening remarks, and Nick Fuentes for assisting us throughout the day. Thanks to Jonathan Cabrera for his unique poetry presentation; you are an outstanding artist and students were moved by your inspirational work and performance.

Thanks to our inspirational speaker Gian Paul Gonzalez for such a dynamic and motivational story and for serving as a fantastic role model for everyone from Super Bowl stars to our superstar students.

Thanks to all those who joined us; who supported the distribution of materials, hands-on projects, lunch, tours; those who shared their stories as role models; and everyone who supported any aspect of the conference throughout the day. Thank you to the volunteers who put on their hat as HISPA team members–Henry Claisse, Emma Claisse, Misha Meyer, Madelyn Fink and Alyssa Tarantino–for working closely with us to put together a memorable day for students.

Thanks to Robert Figueroa for spending the day with us photographing the event and, as always, beautifully capturing the entire day’s programming. To view and download photos from the event, please visit this link

As always, special thanks to our 2018-2019 Annual Partners: Verizon Foundation (Co-founding), Educational Testing Service, the PSEG Foundation, Visa, and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner, and Annual Supporters, Merck and Wells Fargo.

Thank you to EVERYONE who joined forces with us to SHARE, INSPIRE and TRANSFORM!  We look forward to working with you again at future events.

Muy agradecidos!

Ivonne, Mauricio and the HISPA Team

Thank You for Making our Dream Come True!

Dear HISPA Role Models, Youth Conference volunteers and partners:

The HISPA team and Board of Directors would like to thank you for making HISPA’s first Youth Conference at Rutgers University–Camden—our 26th Youth Conference to date—an extraordinary day for students and volunteers alike! This year, 70 volunteers welcomed 128 young scholars from Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton to experience a diverse array of speakers and workshops. The conference was a dream come true for HISPA, which has worked for years to increase our presence in Camden—and YOU were the engine to make it happen! Gracias!  

We would like to express our gratitude for your time, effort, and support before the conference and throughout the day.

We begin by thanking our hosts, Rutgers University–Camden and Educational Testing Service (ETS), for opening their doors to us and providing the support needed to make the entire day possible. It was a pleasure to work with you both in all aspects of event planning, including outlining event logistics and securing speakers, workshop presenters and giveaway items.

To ETS, our sincerest thanks to Walt MacDonald for envisioning a Youth Conference at Rutgers, to Lenora Green for championing his vision, and to the Center for Advocacy and Philanthropy (CAAP) team for making this vision a reality; your inspiration, guidance, and commitment brought this remarkable experience to life for students and volunteers alike. Thank you to Terri Flowers for representing ETS by sharing her kind remarks with all attendees and for supporting the planning and execution of the event, as well as to Nate Santana who, after years as a HISPA Role Model, served as master of ceremonies. Thank you to Susan Mains for her continuous warmth and willingness to achieve the successful communications necessary to a successful conference. To Ruth Nicolai for providing giveaway items for students, teachers and volunteers. To Maria Hazell for coordinating ETS professionals to assemble all giveaway bags and prepare volunteers for event support throughout the day. To Diego Zapata-Rivera, Alexis A. Lopez, Blair Lehman, Irvin R. Katz, Beata Beigman Klebanov, and Malcolm Bauer for so thoughtfully planning a truly engaging workshop for students; to Florencia Tolentino, Jimmy Bruno and Jennifer Lentini for supporting this workshop; and to René R. Lawless for supporting logistical planning and preparing the team. Thanks to Rita Nini and Kitara Washington for leading the volunteers’ efforts at Rutgers and making sure every detail was attended to throughout the day. A special thanks to Damaris Garcia who, conference after conference, brings her expertise, leadership and boundless support throughout the planning and execution of all tasks leading up to and on the day of the event.

To Rutgers, thank you to Nyeema C.Watson for her direction and vision and for welcoming a HISPA and ETS initiative onto Rutgers University–Camden campus. To Provost Michael Palis and Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon for their support and sharing their words of optimism with our attendees on behalf of Rutgers University. Thank you to Vice Chancellor Jason Rivera for leading the informative college student panel, as well as to the students whose experiences illuminated the many paths to college: Alma Aparicio, Javier Castro, Kimberly Flores, Kelly Medina, Monserrath Mendoza-Martinez from Rutgers–Camden and to Adrian Armendariz and Javier Becerrathe of the University of Pennsylvania SHPE Chapter. Thanks to Professor Joseph V. Martin and Q-STEP’s Veronica Rosselli, Trisha Trinidad, Emily McDermott, Harjit Khaira and Nidhi Baxi for delivering the Rutgers–Camden workshop, introducing young minds to neuroscience. We also want to highlight PJ Craig, Kristin Walker and Christina King for working hand-in-hand with HISPA in planning, scheduling, and leading logistical arrangements, as well as setting up for and sorting out all needs as they arose with great calm and initiative. Thanks to Ashley Dolce for assuring all transportation and parking arrangements ran as expected and to Michael Sepanic for his support with communications and branding. Finally, a special thank you to Christian and Ria for helping in the early morning and to David Tran for leading technology support throughout the day with patience and positive energy.

Thank you to Mayor of Camden Francisco Moran for welcoming students to your city’s Youth Conference and supporting educational institutions to power such initiatives for their students. Thank you to Senator Nilsa Perez-Cruz for her empowering speech, embodying for students the meaning of words like leadership and goal-seeking.

Thank you to our Lead Sponsor Wells Fargo not only for your financial support but also for providing a financial literacy workshop for students—a lesson we believe is of critical importance to their futures. We were proud to have Wanda L. Saez, an inspirational Latina leader dedicated to her community, leading this workshop alongside with Ivette Sanchez. We are immensely grateful to have a network of support from the Wells Fargo community!

We thank Sponsor Bristol-Myers Squibb and OLA. Thanks to Diana Gabriel and Tony Rodriguez for their care and commitment to preparing such a life-like workshop for students and introducing them to the possibilities of futures in STEM. And to the BMS workshop supporters: Jairo Torres, Connie Ramos, Janet Serrano Miranda, Johara Rivera and long-time HISPA Role Model Claudia Corredor.

We also thank our Sponsor Merck and MHO. We are grateful for the leadership of Alex Ibanez and for her guidance in putting together the teams within the MHO workshop. Thanks to keynote speaker Carlos Santiago, who shared how to achieve one’s dreams through perseverance and pursuing passion. To long-time HISPA Role Model Itzia Arroyo for helping with all the giveaway donations and event efforts throughout the day, as well as for planning and leading the creative and intriguing chemiluminescence workshop with Danila Giacone. To Merck workshop leaders Alan Goggins and Dominick Panzera, as well as to all the Merck volunteers: Sandra Bautista, Manny E. Garcia, Victoria Gemignani, Adolfo Pertuz, Salvador Espinosa, Zaida Colon and Cristina Aldana. Lastly, thanks to Frank de los Reyes for his reception remarks and for his long-time commitment to a Merck-HISPA partnership.

To Kyara and Valeria Torres-Olivares of Code Equal for their fresh and thoughtfully created workshop, and to Oscar Torres and Veronica Olivares for their support in the planning and execution of this workshop.

Thanks to our inspirational speakers: to Iris Delgado for sharing her dynamic and motivational story, serving as a fantastic role model for everyone. To Carlos Ojeda Jr. who year after year shows our students that knowledge is power and that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to with the power of their voices.

Thanks to Congreso de Latinos Unidos for their partnership and for enabling Philadelphia’s students to participate in the day, as well as to the support of Ashley Chambers, Melitza Iglesias and Christina Tanon for securing and managing all necessary details for students to join us.

A special thank you Liz Veliz who, as part of the HISPA family, serves graciously as lead volunteer in several of our events throughout the year. We are always grateful for and proud of Gabriela Monje, who has grown from a student of HISPA programs to now supporting us with school invitations and task support. And thank you to Henry Claisse and Jo-Ann Diaz from RPI for supporting workshops with their leadership and expertise in addition to assisting in organizing and setting up for the conference.

Thanks to Robert Figueroa for spending the day with us photographing the event and, as always, beautifully capturing the entire day’s programming. To view and download photos from the event, please visit our Flickr.

Finally, thanks to all those who joined us, as well as to those we may have missed: those who supported the distribution of materials, breakfast or lunch; those who led hands-on projects or tours; those who shared their stories and served as role models; and everyone who supported any aspect of the conference throughout the day, including Brent Beverley of Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Lydia Beverley; and a very special thanks to Youth Conference Collaborator Comcast and Unidos.

And as always, special thanks to all those who make HISPA’s educational programs possible: Co-founding Partner the Verizon Foundation; Annual Partners Educational Testing Service, the PSEG Foundation, Visa, and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner; and Annual Supporters Merck and Wells Fargo. Your generous support of our mission-driven educational programs made this and all our events possible.

Thank you to EVERYONE who joined forces at the HISPA’s 26th Youth Conference to SHARE, INSPIRE and TRANSFORM in Camden, New Jersey!  We look forward to working with you again at future events. Mil gracias!


Ivonne, Mauricio and the HISPA Team