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