HOUSTON, TX – Continental Airlines  and the Adelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund announced the winner of their Hispanic CSR PR contest “Destino: Latinoamerica” (“Destination: Latin America”) essay contest targeting Hispanic college students.  The first-place winner of the contest is Brenda Castaneda, 21, from Fallbrook, CA.

In her essay, Castaneda, a senior majoring in political science and Spanish at Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass., highlighted the influence of Latin American culture on a variety of aspects of U.S. life, including fashion, film and entertainment.

“The influence of Latin America will continue growing and transcending geographic limits, enriching the cultural diversity of this country,” Castaneda said.  “Each immigrant brings a wealth of traditions and culture, which affect our society.”

The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Castaneda lived in Peru on a study-abroad scholarship for six months.  While there, she worked with indigenous communities.

Castaneda won four Continental Airlines tickets for travel to any destination in the U.S., Mexico or Central America where Continental flies.  In addition, her essay will be published on the Adelante Fund Web site, www.adelantefund.org.

Second-place winner Lucy Zuniga, who studies information systems at San Antonio College in San Antonio, Texas, commented: “My mother has played the most important role in my life, always reminding us that everyone is a reflection of his or her family and culture.”

“It’s always a pleasure to read the students’ essays, which reflect the diverse cultural richness of this country,” said Maria Cristina Osorio, manager of public relations for Latin America and the Caribbean, Continental Airlines.

“The Adelante Fund is dedicated to helping students continue their educations at the college level,” said Andria Castillo, Executive Director, Adelante Education Fund.  “We appreciate the opportunity that Continental Airlines has given students in the Adelante Fund network to express their thoughts and feelings about their Latin American roots.”

This is the third year of the “Destino” contest.  Essays had to focus on some aspect of Latin American influence on life in the United States.  Judges from Continental Airlines and Adelante Fund based their decision on creativity and clarity of expression.

Latin America and the Caribbean account for more than half of Continental Airlines’ international destinations.  Continental offers service to 71 destinations in 23 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including nonstop service to 29 destinations in Mexico – more than any other airline. Continental also offers nonstop service to more Central American cities (10) than any other U.S. airline and serves seven South American destinations.

A pioneer in “Latinization,” Continental offers a number of Spanish-language services, including bilingual flight attendants on many flights to Latin America; bilingual airport personnel, reservations agents and signage; and a Spanish-language Web site at www.continental.com/espanol.  Passengers also may make reservations in Spanish at 1-800-537-9222.

The Adelante! U.S. Education Leadership Fund, a national nonprofit organization based in San Antonio, Texas, was established in 1993 to address the issue of lack of college attendance and graduation among U.S. Hispanics.

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