Over 100 students challenged to “TAKE ACTION” to “ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS” at HISPA Youth Conference

June 12, Princeton University Campus – One hundred and ten 8th graders from Red Bank Middle School, Paterson School #5, New Brunswick Middle School and the William C. McGinnis School (Perth Amboy) were hosted by professionals from Princeton University, AT&T, Merck, NSHMBA, PACTO, Elizabethtown Gas, Schering-Plough, CHUBB, Argent Associates, Wakefern/Shoprite, for a day of learning about the importance of high school and the many careers they can choose to pursue.

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Marta Tienda, Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, Princeton University
Students were inspired throughout the day by an outstanding group of professionals, starting with Dr. Marta Tienda’s heartfelt speech about “necessary dreams” and her call to action to the students to choose education. She was followed by Dr. Nestor Collazo who brought a sense of urgency to the students to make the right choices in High School starting with taking Algebra I or II in 9th grade.

Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse with First Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Ricardo Solano, Jr.
The lunch session started with a visit from NJ First Assistance to the Attorney General, Ricardo Solano Jr. who shared his story identifying himself with the students from Paterson, where he grew up. Students then spent the remainder of their lunchtime getting to know the role models in small groups, where they were able to ask a wide range of questions, from overcoming language barriers to steps they need to take to pursue specific careers.

Students presentations during one of the workshops
In the afternoon the students were divided into groups, each participating in a different workshop including: Careers in Aerospace Industry, presented by NASA and Georgian Court University Professor Dr. Beth Schaefer; Careers in Telecommunication Industry, presented by AT&T Role Models; and, Careers in Pharmaceutical Industry, presented by MERCK Role Models. The afternoon was closed by a musical performance by Paige Austin, 2nd place winner of the 2009 New Jersey Shouts Down Drugs music contest followed by an inspirational presentation by Dr. Maria Garlock who amazed both students and volunteers by showcasing beautiful bridges and buildings that reflected the importance of mathematics in the structural designs that surround us.
The HISPA Youth Conference was truly a team effort in which a diverse group of professionals came together to showcase the importance of education and to inspire students to “Take Action” towards “Achieving their Dreams”.

During the conference HISPA acknowledged the co-host of the event, the Princeton University Human Resources Organization and Dr. Terri Harris Reed, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity. HISPA also acknowledged the conference ‘Transform’ sponsor AT&T and Dr. Marian Croak, Vice President AT&T Labs for her participation and outstanding support.
Photos courtesy of German Valencia and Peter Cornell.