Campaign Begins as HSF Announces its First Class of Obama Scholars—Funded by the President’s Nobel Peace Prize

Hispanic Scholarship FundThe Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), recognizing the nation’s need for more college graduates in spite of the current recession, is launching “Generation 1st Degree,” an initiative focused on closing the “degree gap” that exists between Hispanic students and their peers. The strategy seeks to help at least one person in each household earn a college degree, and then leverage that credential in order to assist others in the family seek the same achievement.

“What we are witnessing is the circle of life—‘Gen 1st Degree’ is about the dreams we need to spark in everyone’s imaginations, the Obama Scholars represent the dream to come, and the alumni represent the dream fulfilled”

Announcing the initiative at its first Education Summit, HSF plans to focus its efforts on the Hispanic American students and families it serves and hopes to be a catalyst for a national conversation about higher education and the economy. In 35 years, HSF has awarded close to $300 million in scholarships to more than 50,000 students in need. Two-thirds of these students were the first in their families to go to college.

“We have proof to show the game-changing impacts of a ‘first-in-family’ degree,” says Frank Alvarez, president and CEO, HSF. “With ‘Generation 1st Degree,’ we’re asking all college-educated Americans who benefited from someone’s investment in them to give back by investing in Hispanics who aspire to be the first in their families to earn a college degree. Our investments will not only benefit these students and their families, but they will be the seeds of change that inspire siblings, friends and an entire generation of Hispanics to go to college.”

HSF’s vision is for the U.S. Latino degree attainment rate to increase from 19 percent to 60 percent by 2025. HSF estimates that will result in a significant increase in Latino lifetime earnings—from the current $24 trillion to $47 trillion (in current dollars) by 2025 if the goal is met.

Time Warner is the host sponsor of the Education Summit as well as the corporate honoree. Toyota is the presenting sponsor of the Education Summit.

“As a global leader in the automotive industry, Toyota believes that education is vital to sustaining a diverse and dynamic workforce, strengthening communities, and opening doors for all people,” says Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. “We are deeply grateful to HSF for the work it does and for giving us the opportunity to play a key role in this special day. We’re especially proud of the more than 500 HSF scholars we’ve been able to support through our longtime HSF scholarship program.”

In addition to scholarships, Toyota’s partnership with HSF includes program support that totals $4.25 million since 1988.

At the Education Summit, participants are discussing how closing the degree gap is becoming more important as the demand for college-educated Americans continues to rise. A recent study by Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that if current trends continue the U.S. will lack 3 million college degree holders that companies must have to fulfill jobs by 2018. Carnevale predicts unless the U.S. increases it degree-production capabilities, those jobs will be lost and go off-shore.

The Education Summit also includes the naming of the first class of Obama Scholars, students who will have part of their education paid for from the $125,000 gift President Barack Obama made to HSF upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. HSF selected the Obama Scholars based on essays they wrote describing their interest in teaching in a science-related field.

The Obama Scholars include:

* Matthew Castro, a junior studying biology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Tex., who is an Iraq War veteran;
* Janine Flores, a biology student at St. John’s University in New York City, who believes “education is the key to advancement as I’ve lived it myself”; and
* Richard Ossa, a junior at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, N.J., who says, “I want to be a successful chemical engineer and I want to leave my footprint as a good teacher along the way.”

The Summit is being followed by the Alumni Hall of Fame Gala 2010 that recognizes the achievements of outstanding HSF alumni whose incredible stories demonstrate the power of higher education. This year’s inductees are:

* Roger Cepeda, J.D., associate general counsel, CT, GE Healthcare, Milwaukee, is a motivator who often speaks with young people about setting priorities and talks about his own humble beginnings. He now provides strategic legal advice to a $1 billion business;
* Edgar Martinez, M.D., medical director, Huntington Park, Calif., gives back to his community in many ways including his mentoring to Latino medical students. He is the first in his family to earn a college degree and is ensuring he is not the last;
* Lisa Pino, J.D., deputy administrator, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C., is the first Hispanic to serve in this role. She was able to complete her legal studies with HSF support;
* Yesmi Rios, M.A., English language learner coordinator, Clark County School District, Nev., oversees more than 100 K–12 schools and works to ensure more than 68,000 non-fluent English speakers are provided appropriate educational services to ensure academic success; and
* Cesar Conde, M.B.A., president, Univision Networks, is recognized as an honorary inductee. Conde has served in the public sector and now oversees three television networks—Univision, TeleFutura and Galavisión—as well as several corporate functions. Conde is active in the development of educational opportunities for young Hispanics. He is the chairman and co-founder of the Futuro Program, a non-profit organization that provides role models and educational workshops to Hispanic high school students.

“What we are witnessing is the circle of life—‘Gen 1st Degree’ is about the dreams we need to spark in everyone’s imaginations, the Obama Scholars represent the dream to come, and the alumni represent the dream fulfilled,” says Raul Romero, chairman, HSF. “The end result will be an America made stronger economically and socially through higher education, which is something we all care about.”

Editor’s Note: A full list and details about the 2010 Obama Scholars accompanies this release.

HSF’s mission is to strengthen America by advancing the college education of Hispanic Americans. The organization delivers a range of programs to Hispanic families and students through community outreach and education, affordability via scholarships, college retention and career opportunities. HSF supports a successful path for Latinos to attain a college degree—creating an increasingly valuable asset for a stronger, more competitive America in the 21st century.

2010 Obama Scholars Profiles

Telly Arispe
Junior, Portland State University
Major: Science
Portland, Ore.

Arispe has had a dream of being a doctor since he can remember but that desire has grown to now include teaching. “It is almost as if I feel obligated to explain something that I feel passionate about…I have been waiting my entire life to show everyone what I am capable of and here is my chance,” he says.

Arispe is the first in his family to attend college and that has been especially challenging given the recession.

He also volunteers at Portland State University’s Child Development Program and is training to become an Emergency Medical Technician in order to gain experience and receive patient care hours.

Magali Barba
Junior, University of California-Berkeley
Major: Geophysics
Berkeley, Calif.

Magali is a student who loves to give back as much as she loves to learn. She’s active in Hispanic Engineers and Scientists, a student organization that brings together Latino student engineers and scientists to promote the advancement of education among underrepresented minority students.

Magali’s interest in science began because of a simple rock lesson in elementary school that lead to her hobby of rock and mineral collecting. This experience has led her and a friend to develop an education program in which they teach geology and physics to elementary school students through hands-on activities.

Eventually she plans to attend graduate school at California Institute of Technology to obtain a Ph.D. in geophysics and then become a professor. Magali says she sees her parents as examples of hardworking and dedicated individuals who she hopes to illuminate.

Magali previously served as chair of the City of Carson (Calif.) Youth Commission.

Matthew Castro
Junior, St. Mary’s University
Major: Biology
San Antonio, Tex.

A core value of the U.S. Air Force is “service before self,” and it’s one Matthew lives by. He was originally enrolled in college in 2002 but left after completing only part of his second year in order to enlist in the Air Force. He was motivated to serve his country after the horrors of 9/11.

Having completed his service, Matthew returned to school to complete his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and aims to continue his education in a Ph.D. program in cellular and molecular biology. Eventually he hopes to teach at the undergraduate level while continuing to pursue his research interests.

“The underrepresentation of Hispanics in research is an issue that I can tackle head on by myself going into research. The choice to earn a Ph.D. also lends itself directly to one of my long term professional goals. I believe that I must give back to the community that has supported me and will continue to support me through my education,” he says.

Erik Ferguson
Junior, Kennesaw State University
Major: Biology
Kennesaw, Ga.

Erik says he first knew he wanted to study biology when he was in 9th grade because the subject caught his interest and soon became his favorite class. In college, microbiology has been his main focus and it’s what he plans to specialize in during graduate school.

Erik wants to work with disadvantaged populations and has been a literacy tutor at an elementary school for two years.

He credits his Mom for giving him inspiration. “When I was younger, she always told me that I had to grow up to be somebody. I’ve heard the same words over, and over: ‘There are no excuses; you can be anything you want. All you have to do is go for it.’”

Janine Flores
Junior, St. John’s University
Major: Biology
New York City

Janine’s greatest interest is global medicine because she wants to make contributions to developing nations such as those where her parents were born. She says the “humble background that my parents have come from has fostered my approach to academics and volunteering within my community. Attending medical school will be just a small pebble in the journey to greater things. Education is key to the advancement of society. I have lived it myself.”

Janine’s first volunteer experience took place in the Hospital San Luis de Otavalo in Ecuador. There a young mother asked her to name her newborn and Janine humbly suggested her father’s name Wilson, because her father is a “good hard working father who loves me very much and I hoped her son would be just as caring.”

She also volunteers with the Association for the Advancement of the Blind and Retarded.

One of her favorite quotes is from Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, who states that “When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Rosy Gomez
Junior, Emory University
Major: Neuroscience

Rosy’s goal is to pursue a higher degree in the sciences or to attend medical school. In the process, she plans to become a teaching assistant so she can understand the teaching profession and gain other teaching opportunities. Another goal is to become a faculty member at a college or university while practicing medicine.

Rosy believes teaching can be a great outreach opportunity and her main goal is to encourage other students to pursue and continue in the field of science.

After graduation, she intends to travel to Guatemala to teach basic science at an elementary school.

“I think teaching is a gift. This gift is not given to you by someone above such as a higher being or even your boss, rather a gift given to others. I want to give this gift to students by teaching in the area that I am most fond of, science. Throughout my undergraduate career, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer female professors are part of the science-related faculty. Even less scarce are the faculty members of Hispanic heritage. I want to change this. I want to give back on behalf of the Hispanic community, as well as give back to them. I want to give the gift of teaching in the exciting and innovative field of science,” she says.

Rosy serves as the shadowing vice president for College Students Interested in Neuroscience at Emory. She is also a coordinator for Camp Kesem at Emory, a camp that offers children with parents that have cancer a week of fun.

Elizabeth Keilhauer
Junior, Georgia College & State University
Major: Education/Teaching
Milledgeville, Ga.

Elizabeth loves working through problems and equations to come up with a solution. She remembers the teachers who helped her and looks forward to “helping kids during a time when nothing seems to be going their way, and they are usually suffering from social, emotional, as well as physical changes and confusion.”

Elizabeth grew up in San Salvador, El Salvador and says her Hispanic heritage has taught her the importance of acceptance and sensitivity for others. This, in part, has led her to be an active volunteer with the Special Olympics where she assists with timing and judging. In high school she started a club called Just Friends, to ensure special needs students felt included. She also conducts tours on her campus for Hispanic visitors and groups.

Bradon Loya
Junior, South Plains College
Major: Medicine
Levelland, Tex.

Bradon says by studying physics he’s become fascinated with the physical aspects of our world. It was not until recently, when he began helping a friend learn physics, that he also discovered how much he enjoys teaching it as well.

Bradon now wants to explore all the possibilities of being a teacher. He wants to get involved with local high schools and show them that physics is not just about hard questions—it can be fun and enjoyable as well.

“I am excited about my future goals and my future as a professor. I could not have come this far without funding from scholarships like this one. My heritage has brought struggles and worries. However, as I look back I see that my heritage has led me to priceless experiences, helped me to gain great mentors, and has helped to prepare me for anything that may come my way,” he says.

Xicotencatl Loza
Junior, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
Major: Political Science

Xicotencatl believes America is losing its competitive and academic advantage compared to other countries and wants to be part of changing that situation. He’s used to overcoming obstacles—he is the first in his household to earn a high school diploma and attend college. He especially enjoys math and practices it even during summer when school is out. His goals are to teach math with the same heart, passion and inspiration that was shown to him.

“We are fighters. I used to be a real fighter and amateur boxer but today that’s not what I mean by fighting. I am a fighting to keep my heritage and culture striving and alive. This is what has been passed down and influenced me being Chicano in America,” he says.

Xicotencatl volunteers with St. Vincent de Paul where he translates English material into Spanish. He also volunteers with Snow Busters, which plows the snow off of sidewalks of homes where elderly residents can’t do so for themselves.

Stephanie Montano
Junior, University of Arizona
Major: Marketing
Tucson, Ariz.

Stephanie aims to eventually earn a master’s degree in education with the goal of one day sharing her love of math with students in such a way that it will get them excited about the subject.

“Although math is sometimes perceived as a boring subject, I want to shatter that perception and show my students that math can be fun if used in the right way. I believe that I can make a connection with the students that will give them self-assurance in their math capabilities that can instill a kind of confidence they can use in any other subject or obstacle they face in life,” she says.

Stephanie is an active volunteer and a member of the Pima Community College Track and Field team.

Richard Ossa
Junior, New Jersey Institute of Technology
Major: Chemical Engineering
Newark, N.J.

Richard is interested in chemical engineering and sees opportunities to teach lower level classes while obtaining his Ph.D.

“It takes a lot to be a professor or a teacher, and it takes extra dedication and effort to be a good one. I want to be a successful chemical engineer, and I want to leave my footprint as a good teacher along the way. I think a good teacher is one who has a lot of experience in his or her field, and is able to wake up the interest of students. I believe that I will be able to this with the new generation of STEM students,” he says.

Richard believes that his Hispanic descent is an advantage in his pursuits because “it has boosted my academic career, allowed me to meet wonderful people, and has given me a culture to be proud of. In the academic aspect, my Hispanic heritage and the advantage of being bilingual have resulted to be a great tool for success, and have directly influenced my perspective of the world.”

Katherine Pierce
Junior, University of California-Los Angeles
Major: Psychobiology
Los Angeles

Katherine admits she was never really excited about chemistry until she found an instructor with the capacity to make science seem exhilarating and rewarding. Further research work immersed her in the amazing qualities of science and its ability to cure disease. She instantly developed a penchant for setting up reactions, using monumental instruments, and feeling as though she was “working to make a difference in the world.” She hopes to further pursue Alzheimer’s research by synthesizing inhibiting molecules.

“I want to show people that science is not something to be afraid of, but embraced. I will do this by obtaining my Ph.D. in Neurobiology, after which I will teach chemistry to high school students. I also aim to initiate after school programs where I will teach more advanced topics such as organic chemistry and an introduction to research.”

Katherine says she finds it refreshing to see that President Obama recognizes the need for more STEM programs. “However, providing funds is only half of it. Finding quality teachers who truly find science to be utterly fascinating is the other half,” she believes.

Lipman Hearne
Adam Shapiro
Hispanic Scholarship Fund
Andy Pino


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