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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

Hispanic Professionals Unite to Inspire New York City Youth

Hispanic Professionals Unite to Inspire New York City Youth National Nonprofit HISPA’s Conference Hosted by Columbia University Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers   Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) and Columbia Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) will host a Youth Conference at Columbia University for over 100 greater New York City area middle-school […]

Hispanic Role Models Step into Classrooms to Inspire Future Leaders

Hispanic Role Models Step into Classrooms to Inspire Future Leaders

HISPA Kicks-Off Second Year in Miami


Princeton, N.J. – On October 24, a dozen Latino professionals—HISPA Role Models from companies like ESPN, UPS and Visa—stepped into Kinloch Park Middle and Miami High School classrooms to inspire the next generation of highly skilled professionals. These volunteers shared their stories of overcoming obstacles, the key steps they took to pursue higher education and achieve their educational and professional goals.

Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement (HISPA) seeks to overcome the lack of role models as a key reason why students fail to pursue a college education. CEO Dr. Ivonne Díaz-Claisse credits her accomplishments to a math professor who validated her dream of becoming a mathematician.  She believes that all Hispanic students deserve mentors like him, and with the Hispanic population projected to grow to 107 million by 2065, developing talent is critical to the future of America.

Since 2008, HISPA has mobilized thousands of professionals as HISPA Role Models, organizing and executing 762 school visits in New Jersey, New York City, San Antonio—and now, for the second year, Miami.

“Although Hispanic Heritage Month ended on October 15, celebrating Hispanic professionals’ accomplishments is part of what HISPA does every single day,” said Díaz-Claisse. “Latino professionals enjoy giving back by inspiring our youth; and our data show that their messages increase students’ willingness to go on to higher education.”

To continue to engage the community in its programs, HISPA will hold a recruiting event on October 26 hosted by the City of Miami Office of the Mayor, with the support of Latino professional organization Prospanica and event sponsors Protec and UPS. For more details or to register to attend, visit:

HISPA events and educational programs are made possible by HISPA’s Co-Founding Partner, the Verizon Foundation, and Annual Partners the Comcast Foundation, Educational Testing Service, the PSEG Foundation, Visa, and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s airline partner. For more information about HISPA, visit

Hispanic Role Models Gather to Inspire the Future of America

Hispanic Role Models Gather to Inspire the Future of America

UPS, Crecer and HISPA Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month


Princeton, N.J. – Nonprofit organization HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement) will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at their annual HISPA Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event themed, “20,000 Inspirational Stories = One Empowering Voice” on October 16 at 5:30 pm at UPS in Parsippany, N.J. Hosted by UPS and Crecer, the Hispanic/Latino Business Resource Group, the Kick-Off will bring together some 200 professionals dedicated to inspiring Hispanic youth.

The event will take place only 30 minutes from where HISPA began ten years ago, when the organization’s 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, “I love chemistry. 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, which mobilizes Hispanic professionals to serve as role models and examples to motivate students to stay in school and pursue a college education.

HISPA has since grown to 2,500 role models who together have made 762 classroom visits, sharing their stories with more than 9,000 students. The Kick-Off event will continue HISPA’s movement to share 20,000 stories by year 2020. Efforts and accomplishments like these lead to HISPA’s formal commendation by the New Jersey State Senate last week in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

“In a way, HISPA celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month every month of the year by showcasing the accomplishments of Hispanic professionals as a way to inspire the next generation,” said Diaz-Claisse.

Kick-Off speakers include Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR) CEO, Cid Wilson; UPS Foundation President, Ed Martinez; and UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer, Juan Perez.

HISPA events and educational programs are made possible by HISPA’s Co-Founding Partner, the Verizon Foundation, and Annual Partners the Comcast Foundation, ETS, the PSEG Foundation and Southwest Airlines, HISPA’s official airline partner.

For more details or to register to attend, visit:

For more information about HISPA, visit

HISPA Role Model Damaris Garcia Highlighted by ETS: Helping Others is Her Call to Action

Damaris Garcia, Administrative Professional in Strategy Marketing and Growth (SMG), says that her call to action is to help others.

“We often take things for granted when they come to us without much effort,” she says. “I wasn’t raised in the most affluent household, but I always had the essentials. My parents made it a point to provide us with everything we needed; however, others are not so lucky and that is why I help.”


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Join the celebration: HISPA 2017 Three Kings Banquet Honorees!

Join us to celebrate HISPA’s accomplishments and to honor:

Walter Rodriguez, Verizon and Verizon HSO, SHARE AWARD – Role Model of the Year
Princeton University, INSPIRE AWARD – Champion of the Year
PSE&G, TRANSFORM AWARD – Corporation of the Year
Walt MacDonald, ETS, Leadership in Mentoring Award

For tickets:…

For sponsorships:

Hispanic Professionals Unite at Conference to Inspire New York City Youth

Hispanic Professionals Unite at Conference to Inspire New York City Youth: Hosted by Columbia University Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and National Nonprofit HISPA

Princeton, NJ – HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement) and Columbia Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), with support from Columbia Journalism School and the Double Discovery Center at Columbia College, will host a day-long Youth Conference at Columbia University on Friday, October 7, coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month.

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Hispanic Professionals Commit to Inspire South Florida’s Youth

The City of Miami, Office of the Mayor, Hosts Role Model Program Kick-Off Event
Princeton, NJ – National nonprofit organization HISPA (Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement) is launching their role model-based programming in Miami—as well as their newest initiative, VISION 2020: an effort to recruit Hispanic role models to share 20,000 inspirational stories with students. The launch and campaign will begin with the HISPA Miami Role Model Program Kick-Off and Recruiting Event, hosted by the City of Miami, Office of the Mayor, on September 30 at 5:30 pm. The evening will bring together Latino professionals from public and private sectors dedicated to inspiring our youth, including leaders from the Office of the Mayor, the Southern District of Florida Department of Justice, ESPN, UPS and Visa, among others. Read more