Five Exemplary Latinos Inducted into Hispanic Scholarship Fund Prestigious Alumni Hall of Fame
Accomplished professionals honored at annual event to inspire Hispanic youth
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Alumni Hall of Fame inducted five extraordinary Latinos at its seventh annual gala September 17, 2008 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. They joined a select group of Latino professionals who have been recognized for their personal achievements, contributions and service to America, including former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, U.S Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza and Time Warner Vice President Lisa Quiroz. (Continued below...)
This year’s inductees included an educator whose work goes beyond the classroom; a leader in education, community involvement and philanthropy; a Cuban immigrant who became President & CEO of a leading telecommunications company; a recognized researcher in drug safety; and an acclaimed pianist who performs and composes Latin Classical music.
HSF, the nation’s preeminent organization supporting Latino higher education, aims to inspire future generations of Latino college graduates by honoring Latinos who have excelled in their fields. The HSF Alumni Hall of Fame was created in 2002 to honor Hispanics who demonstrate the power of higher education and to highlight how attaining a college degree can change individual lives and society as a whole for the better. The honorees’ lifetime challenges and subsequent accomplishments illustrate the possibilities unleashed through higher education and personify the mission and values of HSF.
Each year, HSF selects four outstanding HSF alumni who were aided by an HSF scholarship while in college. A fifth individual, while not a former HSF Scholar, is selected for his or her success and excellence. Awards are given in five categories: The Triumpher, The Motivator, The Rising Star, The Humanitarian, and The Optimist.
This year’s awards and inductees, representing achievements in the medical, academic, corporate and public policy fields, went to:
- The Optimista, Joán Sotero Alvarez, Education Administrator, Progreso Independent School District. As an English teacher, Joán provides his students much more than grammar lessons. He has mentored more than 150 students who were at risk of failing or dropping out. He is teaching his students to care for and respect their community by founding King Productions, an organization that promotes community involvement. The teenagers clean fences and walls marked by graffiti, as well as learn and perform hip-hop at community events. He was awarded the CCISD Teacher of the Year award within the two years of beginning to teach. He is a teacher despite repeatedly failing to meet the Texas state testing scores as a high school student; he persevered and became the first person in his ancestral family to earn a college degree. Proving to his students that an education is possible, he invited them, along with their parents, to his graduation ceremony when he received his master’s degree.
- The Altruista, Luis Ubiñas, President of the Ford Foundation, New York, NY. Luis uses his leadership skills and talent in the not-for-profit sector to help non-profits achieve their missions, empower them and inspire others. Before becoming the ninth president of the Ford Foundation in January 2008, he was a director at McKinsey &Company, a global management consulting firm where he worked for 18 years. To introduce and cultivate diverse talent, Luis founded McKinsey’s Latino recruiting and mentoring group. He has served on the boards of Leadership Education and Development (LEAD), a national organization that provides educational opportunities to low-income African American and Latino high school students, the Bay Area United Way and the Steppingstone Foundation.
- The Triunfador, Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility. A native of Cuba, Ralph came to the United States at the age of 10, but had to leave his family behind because of problems with their immigration documentation. Despite leaving his family behind at such a young age and not knowing a word of English, Ralph went on to earn a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. He also completed the Executive Program at the University of Virginia. In 1974, Ralph began his distinguished career in telecommunications as a Management Assistant with BellSouth (then Southern Bell). He worked his way up to directing all of BellSouth’s Telecommunications Network Operations for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi and served as President-BellSouth Latin America with overall responsibility for BellSouth’s Central and South American operations in 11 countries.
- The Inspirador, Evelyn Rodriguez, Vice President and head of Global Pharmacoepidemology, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Mountain Lake, NJ. Evelyn is a recognized leader and researcher in drug safety and the science of pharmacoepidemiology. She has over 34 years’ experience in clinical medicine and is board certified in Pediatrics, Public Health and General Preventive Medicine. She also demonstrates leadership, organizational and management skills through studies, publications and presentations at scientific meetings, public hearings and FDA-sponsored advisory committee sessions. For 13 years, she has provided federal service as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. In 2000, Evelyn received the Arthur Flemming Award for Excellence in Science. She has reached out to Latinos, interested in the medical field, for 15 years as an active participant in the Mentorship Program for Hispanic Medical Students with the International College of Physicians and Surgeons. Evelyn has raised three children, who are currently college students despite disabilities they have encountered.
- The Brillante, Gabriela Lena Frank, Composer and Pianist in Latin Classical Music, Berkeley, CA. Gabriela is a world-renowned pianist and composer. As one of the few Latina composers in a male dominated field, Gabriela regularly incorporates Latin American art, poetry, and folk music into western classical forms that reflect her Peruvian- Jewish-Chinese heritage. She shares her love of music with the community as a performer and teacher, traveling throughout the United States and Latin America. Born with a moderate-to-profound neurosensory hearing loss that was not detected until she was in kindergarten, Gabriela was recently recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and hailed as representing “the next generation of American composers.”
“We are proud to honor these inductees because they personify the mission and values of HSF,” said Frank D. Alvarez, HSF President & CEO. “They are an inspiration to aspiring Latinos everywhere. Their success stories are testimony to the impact of higher education and the tremendous difference it makes in a life.”
Alvarez firmly believed the inductees serve as positive role models for Latino students, which is a trademark of previous HSF Alumni Hall of Fame honorees. “Annually, the inspiring stories of HSF’s inductees put a face on our work and demonstrate the power of higher education,” he said.