Role Model Program

HISPA Role Model Bureau to Hold Youth Conference

PRESS ADVISORY PRINCETON, NJ – PRINCETON, NJ – The HISPA Role Model Bureau will hold its 2009 Youth Conference for 8th graders on Friday, June 12, 9:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., at the Frist Campus Center on the Princeton University campus. The “Take Action! Achieve Your Dreams” conference is co-sponsored by the Office of Human Resources at Princeton, and AT&T and its Hispanic Employee Resource Group, HACEMOS.

The one-day event will be attended by schools that participated in the HISPA Role Model Program during the 2008/2009 school year. HISPA is a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional Hispanic role models for young students. HISPA stands for Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement.

The HISPA Youth Conference is designed to tackle the issue of high school drop-out rates by emphasizing the importance of a secondary education, and exposing the students to role models who have overcome barriers and become successful in a variety of careers. The conference’s theme, “Take Action! Achieve Your Dreams”, reinforces HISPA’s goal of encouraging students to pursue higher education by having role models share their stories of achievement. Additionally, the students will learn about career possibilities in a variety of fields, including academia, public policy, business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The HISPA Youth Conference will provide students the opportunity to interact with an amazing group of role models representing many cultural backgrounds and careers,” said Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse, president of HISPA. “This one-day program will help jump-start the young students on an early career exploration track and spur them to question themselves and the adults around them about their future. The opportunity to have the conference on the Princeton campus will reinforce one of HISPA’s goals that higher education is the natural next step after high school.”

For more information, contact and visit Media representatives may contact Ivette Mendez at, or call 973.518.1537.

Since its launch in September 2008, HISPA’S Role Model Bureau has been providing support to educational programs across New Jersey. Mentors have shared their life stories – with an emphasis on educational achievements and professional accomplishments – during visits with more than 2000 students in numerous cities including New Brunswick, Paterson, West New York, Summit, Red Bank, Freehold, Passaic, Elizabeth, Union City and Perth Amboy.
One of HISPA’s key strategies is to support existing educational programs in which at least half of the students are Hispanic. In Red Bank, HISPA is working with the school district’s new Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program under the direction of Laura Morana, school superintendent.

HISPA’s also partners with existing organizations that have mentoring programs. The organization is working with Hudson County-based Save Latin America’s “Reaching Our Dreams” program, which is run by Johnny Torres. In Summit, HISPA has teamed up with the YMCA’s Latino Leadership Institute, which is run by Janet Maulbeck, director of community development.

HISPA’s Role Model Bureau is a national network of role models and resources that showcases the participants’ educational experiences, careers, and ethnic backgrounds. HISPA, which has reached and surpassed its initial recruitment goal of 100 role models in New Jersey, encourages Hispanic professionals to become active role models by visiting schools and sharing their educational and career experiences with students in an effort to inspire academic performance and achievement.
The following is a partial list of organizations who have pledged to provide role models, as well as individuals who have joined HISPA’s efforts: Employee Resources Groups: AT&T – HACEMOS; Merck Hispanic Organization (MHO); PSE&G – ADELANTE; Chubb Hispanic and Latino Employee Network (CHLEN); Microsoft – HOLA; Johnson & Johnson – Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement (HOLA); Princeton University Latino Princetonians (PU Employee Resource Group); Professional Organizations: National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA) – NJ Chapter; Latinos in Information Science and Technology Association (LISTA) – NJ and NY Chapters; U.S. Hispanic Advocacy Association (USHAA); Dominican American National Roundtable (DANR); PACTO – Princeton Alliance for Community and Trade Organizations (Latino Professionals in Mercer County); and Government: Perth Amboy (NJ) Mayor Wilda Diaz and Homeland Security Director Richard Cañas among many others.

Dr. Diaz-Claisse’s professional background includes 10 years with AT&T Labs. The New Jersey resident holds a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Puerto Rico, a Masters in engineering from Cornell University, a Masters in mathematics from the University of Maryland, and a Ph.D. in mathematics from Arizona State University.

HISPA’s goals are:
· To reduce the drop-out rates by targeting middle schools students and emphasizing the importance of higher education in each role model presentation.
· To further develop strategic alliances with employee resource groups, professional organizations and alumni networks in order to select, recruit and support a pool of role models.
· To become a one-stop resource that provides access to thousands of professional Hispanic role models willing to share their motivational stories on an ongoing basis to schools and community-based educational programs.
· To support and expand existing community-based educational programs with similar goals that have an existing need for a Hispanic pool of role models.