Youth Conferences

Hispanic Role Models to Inspire Youth at San Antonio Conference

San Antonio, TX – Hispanic professionals from diverse backgrounds will share their educational and professional journeys with middle school students during a youth conference themed “Take Action! Achieve your Dreams,” at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX on Friday, May 16, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This is the fourth annual youth conference hosted by Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA), a nonprofit organization that connects Hispanic role models and middle school students with the goal of improving students’ academic performance and achievement.The conference will also feature STEM-focused workshops. In “The Hour of Code,” presented by Rackspace® Hosting, students will create and use code to solve puzzles and navigate through computer games. In a workshop presented by Candy Torres, participants will design a spacecraft that can land its payload – people or rover – safely after a long voyage. Torres has been a pioneer in three major space exploration programs, an astrophysical satellite team, the Space Transportation System (STS), and the International Space Station (ISS).
Students in the engineering workshop, presented by the Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE), will be challenged to solve a real-world engineering problem. They will work in teams and apply scientific methods to design and build a solution. In addition, San Antonio Water System employees will present a workshop about water conservation and treatment, while AT&T will take up the importance of engineering and technology in our daily lives. Dr. José Tormos Meléndez of St. Mary’s Chemistry Department will speak about his views of chemistry, not as just a science, but a way of life.
The event is being co-hosted by the St. Mary’s University Office of Student Retention (OSR). Key partners include volunteers from Rackspace; AT&T; UTSA; San Antonio Water System; and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE).
“St. Mary’s University is pleased to be the co-host of the HISPA San Antonio Youth Conference,” said Dr. Rosalind V. Alderman, Assistant Vice President for Retention Management. “Much like HISPA, we at StMU are dedicated to the success of our diverse student body, including many low-income students who are first in their families to attend college. St. Mary’s University recognizes the power of role models and mentors to inspire students to excel. We also know that we need to introduce students to the support systems that advance educational attainment.”
“Friday will be filled with stories of hard work and accomplishments, with plenty of amazing role models,” said Ivonne Díaz-Claisse, Ph.D., president and founder of HISPA. “Research has shown a strong correlation between students having a role model and their pursuit of higher education, and that’s why we started HISPA. We want these students to envision possibilities and achieve their own dreams.”
Dr. Laura Rendón, professor of Education and Human Development at the University of Texas San Antonio, will be the keynote speaker. Her passion is to assist students who, like her, grew up in poverty with hopes and dreams, but not knowing how to achieve them. Dr. Richard Cárdenas, chairman, St. Mary’s Department of Physics and Earth Sciences, will showcase his love for Physics, and Carlos Ojeda, CEO of CoolSpeak, will deliver an inspirational address of educational empowerment.
Following the conference, HISPA Role Models and volunteers are invited to attend a professional development program and reception from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the President’s Dining Room Foyer.
HISPA San Antonio funders are Educational Testing Service and AT&T. Additional support has been provided by CafeCollege, HACU, MAES Latinos in Science and Engineering, Samsung and NASA. HISPA’s corporate annual partners are Educational Testing Service, Comcast and Southwest Airlines.
For more information about HISPA please visit the Website at
To inquire about volunteering opportunities, please contact Herlinda Sifuentes (HISPA San Antonio Operations Director / 210-414-4177 or or Rudy Kiste (HISPA Youth Conference Director / 732 915-0960 or To inquire about corporate sponsorship opportunities, please contact Tricia Adams at 609-649-3715 or