HISPA 2021 Virtual Kick-Off and Recruiting Event

HISPA supporters everywhere are invited to join our virtual Kick-Off & Recruiting Event to commit to empowering Latino students in 2021-22!

About this event

HISPA’s 2021 Virtual Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event

HISPA’s mission is to inspire Latino students to discover their potential and ignite their desire to embrace education and achieve success. At this year’s virtual Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event, themed “Con Esperanza: Celebrating Our Heritage and Our Commitment to Sharing Stories,” we welcome HISPA supporters from across the country and around the world to commit to this mission. Let’s make 2021-22 a year of inspiring dreams and igniting actions in Latino youth!


Welcoming Remarks – Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse, HISPA Founder & CEO

Musical Guest – Anthony Rodriguez

Keynote Address – TBA

Student Panel: “La Esperanza del Futuro”

Call to Action – Rod Colón, HISPA Role Model Development & Addriana Montalvo-Adjuntar HISPA Educational Programs Director

“A Message to Your Role Model”

Speakers & Special Guests

HISPA is excited to announce our musical guest, Anthony Rodriguez!

Independent musician and artist Anthony Rodriguez brings a unique color to Latin music. His recent release includes a re-score of “Deliver Us” from the movie “Prince of Egypt.” This re-score was also mastered at the iconic studio in London, Air Studios. His previous release from 2015, “Shackles Salsa,” was nominated for Best Song in The Independent Music Awards. With music productions lined up, Anthony is now adding film scoring to his arsenal. He has scored a full documentary titled “Sazon Guzman,” released on Vimeo and soon on Film Festivals. For this year’s HISPA Kick-Off, Anthony will be releasing two original scores for all guests to hear for the first time, LIVE!

Further details are forthcoming. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates!

If you have any issues connecting to the event, contact info@hispa.org.

Latino Role Models, Secretary Cardona Inspire Latino Youth to Embrace Education at HISPA Discovery Summit

ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY, June 2 — We often tell young people to reach for the stars, but for many Latino students in the United States right now, the possibility of achieving one’s dreams seems less like reality and more like, well, a dream. The pandemic has only compounded existing, deep-rooted hardships, exacerbating educational inequity and discouraging even the most devoted students.

Nonprofit organization Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) tackles this problem head-on by introducing predominantly low-income Latino youth to Latino professional role models. HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse believes that seeing successful role models who share students’ language and culture can give them hope for their own futures; indeed, she credits a childhood role model, a Puerto Rican professor who went to the U.S. to earn his Ph.D. in math, for inspiring her to do the same. 

“HISPA’s mission is to inspire Latino students to discover their potential and ignite their desire to embrace education and achieve success,” said Díaz-Claisse. “I am so in awe of our volunteers, HISPA’s Role Models, who share our vision and have committed to telling their stories, sharing the obstacles they have overcome on their pathways to higher education.”

About 100 HISPA Role Models will encourage 333 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders from Jerome Dunn Academy in Elizabeth, NJ, and 20 9th-graders from Eisenhower Science and Technology Leadership Academy in Norristown, PA, to discover their own potential when they gather virtually for the first-ever HISPA Discovery Summit on June 2.

A number of students were able to participate in the virtual event together at Jerome Dunn Academy in Elizabeth, NJ.

The HISPA Discovery Summit – I to the 4th Power is broken up into four segments, each focusing on one “I” key to a transformative experience: inspiring students to believe in their dreams, imaging what future careers they may have, informing themselves on the steps to take to reach those careers, and igniting their desire to take those steps.

Students will hear from inspirational speakers, including the U.S. Department of Education’s Secretary of Education, Dr. Miguel Cardona; marine biologist and “Mother of Sharks,” Melissa Cristina Márquez; and Rear Admiral Dennis Velez of the Navy Recruiting Command.

They will also engage in problem-solving workshops and information sessions led by the Association of Latino Professionals for America, the Association of Naval Services Officers, AT&T, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cabrini University, Columbia University Chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Comcast/NBCUniversal, Educational Testing Service, Lockheed Martin, the London Stock Exchange, Merck, Prudential, Tracfone, UPS, and Verizon.

AT&T is not only the event’s IGNITE sponsor, but AT&T employee and long-time HISPA volunteer Mayra Caceres is the Summit’s co-lead, playing a key role in organizing and planning the event.

“It is very exciting for me to be part of making the first HISPA Discovery Summit a reality for students,” said Caceres. “It reminds me of when I helped direct and launch HISPA’s first youth conference 13 years ago. Dr. Diaz-Claisse is a visionary and it is so rewarding to help bring HISPA’s vision to life with the support of AT&T and my HACEMOS familia.”

In addition to AT&T, HISPA’s Discovery Summit is brought to you by IMAGINE Sponsors Comcast and Merck, and INSPIRE Sponsors SOMOS Verizon, CoolSpeak, and AT&T HACEMOS, AT&T’s Hispanic employee group.

HISPA’s educational programs are made possible by Founding Partner Verizon, Co-founding Partners and Supports Bristol Myers Squibb, the PSEG Foundation, and Merck, and Annual Partners Bloomberg, CPC Global Group, Educational Testing Service, and UPS.

Felicidades en el Día de los Reyes Magos!

Virtual Celebration Supports Inspirational Programs for Latino Youth

Princeton, NJ – Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) will hold its annual awards banquet on January 14, 2021.  For the first time, the Three Kings Banquet – A Virtual Celebration will unite HISPA supporters across the country to honor the Latino role models who support HISPA’s educational programs and raise funds for these programs.
A nonprofit organization, HISPA conducts programs in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania.  Having transitioned to an all-virtual model, it is now setting its sights on expanding its programming across the country.  It has served over 15,000 students to date by mobilizing over 3,000 Latino role models.  Their message to Latino youth: you, too, can fulfill your potential and achieve your dreams through education.
The Three Kings Banquet coincides with the January 6 holiday of The Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, the traditional gift-giving period of the Nativity in many Spanish-speaking countries.  HISPA selected this time to thank the volunteers and patrons who share their gifts in support of educational equity and opportunity for all students.
Each year, awards are given to those who have excelled in their commitment to, participation in and financial support of HISPA.  HISPA will present its “Transform” Award for Sponsor of the Year to Verizon, its “Inspire” Award for Champion of the Year to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Adelante, and its “Share” Award for Role Model of the Year to Alex Ortiz of Associated Technology Incorporated (ATI).  Rider University – The Norm Brodsky College of Business will receive the “Corazón” Award, given to an organization that provides invaluable in-kind support for HISPA.
Multi-award-winning journalist María Hinojosa will be the keynote speaker.  She is the anchor and executive producer of the long-running weekly NPR show Latino USA, anchor of the Emmy Award-winning talk show María Hinojosa: One-on-One, and founder of The Futuro Media Group. She is also the author of the recently published book “Once I Was You.” In addition, the program will feature music, networking, dance lessons, a silent auction, and more.
“We are so grateful to HISPA volunteers who share their stories, showcase the many pathways to higher education and careers, and inspire Latino students to achieve their dreams,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse. “This virtual event allows all of us to celebrate their commitment and that of our partners and funders.”
Joining us for this event are Gold Sponsors Bristol Myers Squibb and the Organization for Latino Advancement (OLA), Merck and Merck Hispanos Organization, and America’s Navy, and Bronze Sponsors PNC Bank, PSEG, and the Shepard/Zanders family.
Additional sponsors include Investors Bank, UPS Crecer, and Refinitiv; Associated Technology, Inc. (ATI), Comcast, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Prudential, Rider University – The Norm Brodsky College of Business, Miguel Porto, and Kathleen Larkin, Essential Leadership, LLC, and Frank A. Sonnenberg, MD; and Office Depot and SOMOS Depot, Manolo’s Best Farmstand Chili and Soups, Rod Colón’s family, and Ricardo Pellegrino.
HISPA’s annual funders include Founding Partner Verizon, Co-Founding Partners Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, and PSEG and Annual Partners Educational Testing Service, CPC Global Group, and Wells Fargo.



HISPA Role Model Visits Postponed

Dear HISPA schools and Role Models,

In an abundance of caution and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of students, school employees, volunteers and their families, HISPA will be postponing all Role Model Program visits until the end of April, effective immediately.

We will be in contact with you on an ongoing basis to reassess and reschedule the visits.

HISPA strives to improve the lives of our students, and nothing brings us greater joy than providing them valuable learning opportunities. However, we feel that this proactive measure is in the best interest of everyone involved. 

We are proud of what we have accomplished together so far this year: 276 school visits by 213 HISPA Role Models–a record year for HISPA! We thank everyone for all the energy and hard work they put into planning and preparing for the Role Model Program, and we appreciate your understanding.

In Newark, Hispanic Role Models Commit to Inspiring Student Achievement

Hispanic Role Models Commit to Inspiring Student Achievement

HISPA Celebrates Historic Kick Off with Hosts Prudential and Hispanic Heritage Network


Princeton, N.J. – Nonprofit HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement), Prudential and Hispanic Heritage Network (HHN), the company’s Hispanic-serving Business Resource Group, will host a diverse group of employees to kick off a new academic year of role model programs for New Jersey youth. Also in partnership with Wells Fargo Latin Team Member Network and Latino Networks Coalition, the annual HISPA Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event, themed “With the Endless Power of Our Voices,” will be held September 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Prudential in Newark, N.J.

HISPA mobilizes Latino professionals to visit local classrooms, share their stories, and introduce students to college and career opportunities. This event will bring together more than 200 such professionals dedicated to inspiring Hispanic youth to achieve their full potential.

“Prudential’s role in piloting this program is to help one of the fastest growing populations in America find professional role models,” said Joe Hayes, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Prudential Group Insurance. “We are proud to host the HISPA event and support programming that connects Hispanic youth to unique opportunities for growth, putting them on a pathway to long-term, sustainable success and helping them achieve financial wellness.”

HISPA’s first Kick-Off was held ten years ago, shortly after the idea for HISPA first began when the organization’s now-CEO, Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, stepped into a Newark classroom. She saw so many young Hispanic students who reminded her of herself as a child and was moved to share the obstacles she faced growing up in Puerto Rico. As a girl with a passion for math, teachers doubted her ability and discouraged her from pursuing an advanced degree. She found a role model in a Puerto Rican professor who had earned his Ph.D. in mathematics in the U.S. Inspired, she went on to do the same.

After speaking, a young Latina approached her and said, “Now I know I can pursue a Ph.D., too.” Diaz-Claisse realized that Hispanic youth could not aspire to something they didn’t see. She left her ten-year career behind to lead HISPA.

HISPA has since made 984 classroom visits and reached more than 10,000 students.  The Kick-Off event will continue HISPA’s movement to share 20,000 stories by year 2020, an effort that continues forward because of recent funding from Wells Fargo, Investors Bank, the Center for Hispanic Policy, Research and Development, and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner.

“I am in awe of what we have been able to accomplish since our first Kick-Off in 2008,” said Diaz-Claisse. “I began with the goal of recruiting 100 role models and today we have more than 2,500. I am honored to work with such accomplished volunteers and am excited to welcome more Hispanic professionals dedicated to inspiring the next generation.”

For more details or to register to attend, visit: https://2018-nj-kickoff.eventbrite.com

For more information about HISPA, visit www.hispa.org.

Hispanic Role Models Demonstrate that Dreams Can Come True at San Antonio Youth Conference


HISPA’s Inspirational Conference Brings Students to St. Mary’s University to Explore College Life and Future Careers

Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) will partner with St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, on Wednesday, May 23, to host its college and career-focused Youth Conference themed, “Take Action! Achieve Your Dreams”.

Founded in 2007, New Jersey-based nonprofit HISPA mobilizes Hispanic professionals to serve as role models, inspiring students by showing them that they, too, can succeed academically and professionally. HISPA has worked with more than 2,500 mentors and has reached more than 10,000 students in San Antonio, New Jersey, New York City and Florida.

The HISPA Youth Conference will bring together more than 230 individuals, including more than 170 students from Anson Jones and Gus Garcia Middle Schools. An important focus of the conference is to support the development of a college-going culture in schools located in underserved communities. The event will engage students in hands-on workshops alongside Latino professionals — many with advanced degrees — as well as expose them to life on a university campus.

“It is so important to validate young Latinos’ dreams and aspirations,” said HISPA President Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse. “To have over 100 Hispanic leaders take the time to show students that anything is possible with education and perseverance is a testimony to the power of collaboration with outstanding partners who share a common vision.”

Students will hear from a variety of speakers, including keynote Raquel Tamez, an alumna of St. Mary’s University School of Law, who practiced law for nearly 20 years before becoming CEO of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) in 2017.

Conference activities include hands-on STEM-exploration workshops. This year, students may choose to explore social media (presented by Prospanica), computer code (presented by Rackspace VIVA), cybersecurity (presented by BEAT), chemistry, physics or engineering (all presented by St. Mary’s University).

HISPA’s 2018 San Antonio Youth Conference is made possible by St. Mary’s University Enrollment Management, co-host Educational Testing Service (ETS), and collaborators Association of Hispanic Municipal Officials, Webhead, Citibank and the Hispanic/Latino Heritage Network San Antonio. HISPA’s annual funders are the Verizon Foundation, AT&T, Comcast, ETS, Merck, the PSEG Foundation, UPS, Visa and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner.

HISPA Thanks Our 2018 New York City Youth Conference Supporters

Dear HISPA Role Models, Youth Conference Volunteers and Partners:

The HISPA team and Board of Directors would like to thank you for making the 2018 Columbia SHPE – HISPA New York Youth Conference—our third conference at Columbia University, and our 22nd overall conference to date—an outstanding success!  This year, 135 students joined us from across New York City and New Jersey. Young scholars from Elizabeth, Manhattan and the Bronx experienced a wonderful array of speakers, workshops and an amazing 86 inspirational role models. Mil gracias!

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

We begin by thanking our host, Columbia Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) for this wonderful collaboration, for supporting all event logistics and for hosting one of the workshops. Thanks to Briget D. Arndell for offering welcoming remarks and for representing the entire Columbia University team by supporting Columbia SHPE in every decision made. Thanks to Brandon Cuevas for his leadership and to Perla Canales, Ismael Villegas and Samuel Castro for working hand-in-hand in planning and scheduling, as well as managing all inquiries leading up to the event and of course presenting the STEM Major Trivia Bowl! workshop, which was exciting and inspiring for the attending students. Furthermore, we thank Deanna Kowal, Jimmy Sarmiento, Emerald Currie, Erin, Mark and Christopher Stowell for the on-site support at Alfred Lerner Hall and ensuring all logistics were on point and ready to go prior to and throughout the day. And thanks to Jasmine Pena and the Campus Dining – Catering team for making sure all attendees were taken care of with delicious food and excellent service.

Thanks to Elena Cabral, Adjunct Faculty and Assistant Director of Columbia University Student Services, for moderating the College Student Panel as well as the Columbia University students who joined us to talk about life after high school. Your stories truly make such an impression on our students.

A heartfelt thank you to keynote Dr. Silvia Mazzula of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Latina Researchers Network for her care and commitment to being at our event as a role model for our students (and all of us!) as well as for her sharing of her fascinating life, mind and career with all who attended. Congratulations once again on your continued success!

We thank ESPN and SOMOS for their support as Lead Sponsor, for donating giveaway items, and for uniting the powerful SOMOS team and leading the afternoon activity that sparked the creativity of all students and professionals working together. Thank you to the outstanding leadership of Kalidia Reyes, Calu X. Rodriguez, Marilyna Rodriguez, Leo Arciniegas, Rosa Illescas and the support of Jackson L. Davis, Jennifer G. Altarriba, Gelsomina Picariello, Griselda D. Ramirez, Cynthia Villalobos, Antonietta Collins, Sergio Verdu and Hector E. Cruz-Rodriguez.

We also thank our 2018 Co-Founding Partner Verizon and the HSO team for joining together in these efforts. To Ivan Berg, Vice President of Verizon Partner Solutions Operations, for his welcoming remarks and encouraging the students to follow and pursue their dreams. To Mitch Sanchez, James Vera and Odiles Cardines for creating and leading an inspiring hands-on workshop that truly highlighted technology and engineering in their lives. To Derrick Gwin, Warren Chase, James Walsh, Rebecca Burgos, Miguel Martinez, Martin Lopez, Elia E. Migenes-Figueroa, Rebecca M. Newman-Mahoney, Furgencio Herrera, Elliot O. Garcia, Miriam Marte-Marun, Javier G. Vasquez, Jolene Phillips-Neal and Carolina Escalona. A very special thanks to Verizon Foundation representatives Michelle Joseph and La-Tonia B. Middleton-Jackson for working with us to facilitate the participation of additional students.

Thank you to Ashley Vasquez for working hand-in-hand with all of the HISPA team to put together a memorable day for students.

Thanks to AT&T for their support as well as for the volunteerism of the Aspire, oxyGEN and HACEMOS teams. We are always thankful to Mayra Caceres, who has been involved with HISPA for the last nine years, for her leadership and support with every aspect of the conference. We first thank her as well as Christine Liu and Raymond Hu for leading the workshop presentation with the support of Philip Cunningham, Emily Lu, Pedro Mirabal, Jason Swatsworth and Utkarsh Raj.

Our deep thanks to Bristol-Myers Squibb and those from OLA for their collaboration in setting up the conference, engaging students in STEM and inspiring minds as role models and volunteers. Thanks to workshop leaders Tony Rodriguez and William Valencia, and to Diana Gabriel for her continual guidance and leadership.

Thanks to Thomson Reuters for supporting this event and making the day possible for our students, especially to Alicia Garcia, Preston Tan, Yvette Chiavaro-Sanchez, Raquel Galan, Yasmin Ramirez, Veronica Arboleda, Tony Castillo and all those who came together for an inspirational and engaging day for students.

We thank UPS and Crecer for supporting, planning and executing the morning hands-on activity and donating giveaway items: Viviana Encarnacion, Manfred Morales, Michelle Ynsinare, Romina Gimenez, Florideliz Rosado, Beverly Sommer, Yanina Hernandez, Marina Batista and Luis Cabreja.

Thank you to Prudential and the Hispanic Heritage Network for their collaboration and for donating giveaway items. Cheers to our new partnership on upcoming initiatives and thanks to Claudia Vazquez, Jomara Negron, Marilyn Castro, Bob Candella, Julie Maffre, Ruth Hernandez, Marien Villegas, Leo Ruiz and Rosmery Osuna for planning and powering such an eye-opening workshop in financial wisdom.

To Damaris Garcia of ETS for her positive energy and enthusiasm and the non-stop support throughout the day of the event, taking care of a variety of different tasks wherever you were needed as well as making sure all catering was on point for our students and volunteers.

To Edward Montenegro of SHPE, thank you for his attendance and positive attitude.

Special and continual thanks to Walter Rodriguez of Verizon who, year after year, plays a leading role. Your spirit was there with us!

Thanks to our inspirational speaker Carlos Ojeda Jr. for such a dynamic and motivational story and serving as a fantastic role model for everyone.

Thanks to all those who joined us; who supported the distribution of materials, hands-on projects, lunch, tours; those who shared their stories and served as role models to New York and New Jersey youth; and everyone who supported any aspect of the conference throughout the day.

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

As always, special thanks to our Co-Founding Partner Verizon, Annual Partners AT&T, Comcast, Educational Testing Service, PSEG, Visa, Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner, and Annual Supporters Merck and UPS for their generous support of our mission-driven educational programs.

Thank you to EVERYONE who joined forces at the Columbia Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and HISPA’s 22nd Youth Conference to SHARE, INSPIRE and TRANSFORM in New York City! We look forward to working with you again at future events. Mil gracias!


Ivonne, Mauricio and the HISPA Team