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New Jersey non-profit HISPA one of three organizations honored with presidential STEM award

Princeton, NJ, August 11, 2020 — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) has named 12 individuals and three organizations as recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) was one of the three organizations recognized with the highest national mentoring award bestowed by the U.S. government upon mentors who work to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) talent.

Nominations are accepted from all 50 States, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the United States territories which includes American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Presidential award for STEM mentors

Established in 1995, the PAESMEM has honored the hard work and dedication which mentors exhibit in broadening participation in the STEM pipeline.

PAESMEM recognizes the critical role mentors play outside the traditional classroom setting in the academic and professional development of the future STEM workforce. Colleagues, administrators, and students nominate individuals and organizations for exemplary mentoring sustained over a minimum of five years. 

A panel of outstanding scientists, mathematicians, engineers, STEM education researchers, STEM educators, and other STEM or STEM-related professionals review nominations. Recommendations are sent to OSTP for final selection.

Awardees serve as leaders in the national effort to develop fully the nation’s human resources in STEM. Protégés are students and early career STEM and STEM-related professionals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, women, persons with disabilities, and persons from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.


HISPA is a non-profit organization founded in 2007. The organization mobilizes Hispanic professionals to serve as role models to inspire Latino students to discover their potential, igniting their desire to embrace education and achieve success. By uniting students with successful role models with whom they share a cultural and/or linguistic background, HISPA’s educational programs aim to establish a college-going culture and expose underserved populations to a range of postsecondary educational and career opportunities—especially in STEM fields, in which Latinos have historically been under-represented.

Established in New Jersey, HISPA expanded to Texas in 2011; to New York in 2013; to Florida in 2016; and to Pennsylvania in 2019. To date, HISPA has grown from 100 to 3,000 HISPA Role Models and have held over 1,500 Role Model Program sessions, 30 Youth Conferences, and many Corporate Visits, reaching over 15,500 students.

“The Presidential Award represents the opportunity for HISPA to recognize the thousands of individuals—our HISPA Role Models—who have stepped into classrooms and, with their stories, inspired Latino students to discover their potential,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse. “This award means HISPA can celebrate and honor the mentors who have invited our youth to their corporations and colleges, leading lab tours and workshops that have ignited students’ desires to embrace STEM education and achieve academic and professional success.”

Dr. Díaz-Claisse was inspired to found HISPA after speaking to students at a New Jersey school. She shared the obstacles she faced growing up in Puerto Rico with a love for math: as a Latina, teachers doubted her ability and discouraged her from pursuing her degree. She found a role model in a Puerto Rican professor who had earned his Ph.D. in math in the U.S. Inspired, she went on to do the same.

After sharing her story, a young Latina approached her and said, “Now I know I can pursue a Ph.D., too.” Her mission became clear: Hispanic youth could not aspire to something they didn’t see. She founded HISPA to address this need, with a special focus on STEM subjects. Today, over 50% of HISPA Role Models hold a degree in a STEM field or applied science, such as medicine or healthcare.

HISPA’s 2019-20 educational programs were made possible by Co-founding Partners and Supporters the PSEG Foundation, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Merck; and Annual Partners and Supporters: Educational Testing Service, UPS, Visa, and Southwest Airlines.

Impacto Latino: HISPA recibe el Premio Presidencial STEM

Impacto Latino, the newspaper established in 1967 to serve the Latino community in New York and the United States, featured HISPA’s recognition with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, the highest national mentoring award bestowed by the White House.

You may read it below, or visit:

HISPA recibe el Premio Presidencial STEM

Voluntarios y estudiantes de HISPA en San Antonio

La organización hispana sin fines de lucro HISPA fue reconocida con el premio más alto otorgado por el gobierno de los EE. UU..

Establecido en 1995, el premio presidencial (PAEMST) honra la excelencia en mentoria en las areas de Ciencias, Technologia, Ingeniería y Matemáticas (STEM).

Lo que reconoció a HISPA, (Hispanos que Inspiran el Desempeño y los Logros de los Estudiantes) por su trabajo duro y dedicación para expandir el talento de grupos históricamente subrepresentados en el campo STEAM, en el que jóvenes latinos también se han visto menos favorecidos.

“El Premio Presidencial representa la oportunidad para que HISPA reconozca a miles de personas, (nuestros modelos a seguir de HISPA), quienes han entrado en los salones de clase, y quienes con sus historias han inspirado a los estudiantes latinos a descubrir su potencial”, dijo la presidenta y directora ejecutiva de HISPA, Dra. Ivonne Díaz -Claisse.

Dra. Díaz-Claisse, es la fundadora de la organización precisamente inspirada tras propiamente haver enfrentado obstáculos al buscar obtener su Ph.D. en matemáticas como latina. Ella dijo que los maestros dudaban de su capacidad y la desanimaban para obtener su título.

Posteriormente encontró un modelo a seguir en un profesor puertorriqueño que había obtenido su Ph.D. en matemáticas en los EE. UU. quien la inspiro para poder alcanzarlo.

Su misión quedó clara: la juventud hispana no podía aspirar a algo que no veía. Por lo que fundó HISPA con un enfoque especial en las materias STEM para abordar esta necesidad con mentores calificados que dan apoyo a los jóvenes e ingreso a estos ámbitos.

“Este premio significa que HISPA puede celebrar y honrar a los mentores que han invitado a nuestros jóvenes a sus corporaciones y universidades, liderando recorridos por laboratorios y talleres a su vez han encendido los deseos de los estudiantes de adoptar la educación STEM y lograr el éxito académico y profesional” añadió.

Directora Ejecutiva de HISPA se dirige a los estudiantes de Princeton

Hasta la fecha, HISPA, con un campo en Nueva York ha crecido de 100 a 3,000 mentores HISPA y ha realizado más de 1,500 sesiones del programas de modelos a seguir, 30 conferencias de jóvenes y muchas visitas corporativas, para allegarse y atender a más de 15,500 estudiantes hispano hablantes.

Con el alto reconocimiento los premiados de este año servirán como líderes en el esfuerzo nacional para desarrollar plenamente los recursos humanos de la nación en las materias STEM.

Encouraging Success

ETS’s Center for Advocacy & Philanthropy proudly supported this year’s Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) Role Model Program.

During the 2019-2020 school year, the Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) Role Model Program coordinated 286 school visits by role model volunteers to 34 schools. The program brings professionals into schools to share their educational and career journeys with students with an emphasis on the importance of higher education and future goals.

Visiting a group of eighth-graders in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Daniel Hernandez, an ETS Research Software Developer and HISPA Role Model, shared, “Presenting my story to the students was a very rewarding experience and made me feel good about myself knowing the value I bring to the community.”
Daniel Hernandez and middle school students in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Ernest Battle, Assessment Specialist in Assessment Learning and Technology Development K–12, served as a HISPA Role Model in a San Antonio school. “I let the students know that unimaginable positive outcomes can result by simply saying ‘yes’ to new challenges and opportunities,” said Battle.
Ernest Battle and middle school students in San Antonio, Texas.

As a strategy to further motivate students, HISPA has developed “20,000 Inspirational Stories for Our Youth.” This web-based resource allows students to search for stories by various topics, including country of heritage, colleges attended, degrees obtained and obstacles overcome. With the support of ETS’s UNIDOS Business Resource Group, Alberto Acereda, Celeste Eppinger, Yvonne Kuykendall, Sylvia Ledesma and Nate Santana have added their stories to the platform.  

Learn more about HISPA and find out how you can get involved.

HISPA Begins Month of Gratitude

Mr. Rogers famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Right now, we seem to be faced with troubling news every day. But at HISPA, we are fortunate to be surrounded by helpers. During this Month of Gratitude, HISPA wanted to take time to acknowledge those who bring esperanza y amor to their communities.

Every day, we will bring you a small story of hope and love–from our funders, volunteers, and students. We cannot change the news, but we can find a moment to be grateful for the good that surrounds us.

HISPA to Launch Platform of 20,000 Inspirational Stories for our Youth

Princeton, NJ – By 2036, it is predicted that one in three students in U.S. public schools will be of Hispanic heritage. However, the proportion of Hispanic students who do not graduate from high school is twice as high as that of non-Hispanic white students. One potential reason for this disparity? A lack of access to relatable role models. 

HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement) has been in the forefront of addressing this problem and creating successful solutions through its programs. In 2017, HISPA began the ‘20,000 Stories for 2020’ project, a dedicated effort to expand its programs and ramp up the number of stories shared by HISPA Role Models. One of these programs is ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’, a web-based platform to collect Hispanic role models’ stories and share them in one place, all in a way that is easily accessible by Hispanic youth, their parents, teachers and counselors. This platform will be especially critical in light of mounting concerns over the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which is prompting schools to close and many programs to come to a halt.

“HISPA Role Models are experts in story-telling. For 13 years, we have mobilized successful, highly-skilled Latino professionals to share their stories and serve as role models for Latino youth,” said HISPA President and CEO Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse. “However, HISPA is based on the belief that everyone deserves access to role models. With ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’, Latino students everywhere will be able to access these stories, regardless of whether or not they are enrolled in HISPA programs.”

HISPA is currently in the first phase of ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’, working with several organizations to collect an initial batch of 300 stories. The collection will grow from there as HISPA seeks student feedback and continues outreach to their entire professional network.

HISPA will be collecting these stories as writing, audio recording, and video. The stories will focus on role models’ lives: their backgrounds, the obstacles they have overcome, and the paths they have taken to college and career success. Ultimately, students will be able to filter the ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’ results based on gender, ethnicity, field of study and career to find role models and stories that most align with their interests.

Over the coming weeks, HISPA will be providing information on how to gain access to the ‘20,000 Stories for our Youth’ platform.

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.

HISPA NYC Youth Conference Postponed

In an abundance of caution and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of our students, teachers, volunteers, and their families, HISPA will be postponing its New York City Youth Conference at Columbia University, previously scheduled for March 13, 2020. This decision was made with the input of HISPA’s Board of Directors in light of increasing real and perceived public health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

We carefully considered many factors in making this decision. After closely monitoring the situation, heeding the cautions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and learning that multiple partners are exercising non-essential travel restrictions, we decided to postpone this event indefinitely. 

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 appreciate all the energy and hard work everyone put into planning and preparing for this event. Thank you to our hosts—Columbia, SHPE and Brandon Cuevas—and event sponsors Bristol-Myers Squibb, Verizon, and Refinitiv. We are also grateful to our workshop providers: AT&T, UPS, Columbia University SHPE, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Verizon, and Refinitiv. 

This wasn’t an easy decision, and we thank everyone for their understanding.



2020 Three Kings Banquet: Thank You & Photos

Thank you to everyone who joined us last night for the Three Kings Banquet! It was our largest banquet yet, and we were so pleased to spend it with so many friends, volunteers, and supporters.

HISPA unveiled its new mission statement last night: 

HISPA inspires Latino students to discover their potential and ignites their desire to embrace education and achieve success.

And as I said last night, this academic year HISPA will surpass 1,500 Role Model Program school visits, impacting more than 15,000 students. We are able to accomplish this, we are able to lead students to discover their own greatness and potential, 

because so many organizations have joined forces with us and with each other to eradicate the lack of role models in the lives of our students. 

Last night demonstrated the power of what happens when people come together. We hope even more will join us as we enter 2020 and begin this new decade.

You may view photos of this event at:

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