UPRAA grants Sixteen Scholarships to an Outstanding Group of Students in Puerto Rico!

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

upraa_scholOn Thursday, September 20th, 2016, the Association of University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA) awarded sixteen scholarships to a group of outstanding students who have demonstrated superior academic performance and financial need.

During an inspiring ceremony in the Botanic Garden of the University of Puerto Rico, the Interim President, Dr. Celeste Freytes Gonzalez, congratulated the students for their admirable efforts and praised UPRAA for their continued support to education. Along with our special guests were Academic Deans from Universities throughout the island, Mr Joe Vila, Community Outreach Manager of the Ford Fund, and several family members and friends.

Ten of these students received special scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) thanks to a generous grant from the Ford Fund and six others by contributions from Dominion Power.

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Janairis Colón
Sports Therapy, UPR Ponce

Josean Luciano Vázquez
Biotechnology, UPR Ponce

Stephanie C. Ruiz
Audiology, Ciencias Médicas

Lorraine N. Vélez Torres
Microbiology, Ciencias Médicas

Tatiana M. Matos Gascot
Pharmacy, Ciencias Médicas

Michelle N. Telón Sosa
Architecture, UPR Rio Piedras

Gretchen M. Carrasquillo Ramos
IT, UPR Rio Piedras

Hecbel M. Rodriguez Crespo
Clinic Psychology, UPR Rio Piedras

Valerie N. Rodriguez Hernández
Psychology Investigative, Rio Piedras

Paola J. Castello López
Chemistry, UPR Arecibo

Edgar O. Avilés Rosa
Animal Science, UPR Mayagüez

Camille Amaro-Berrocal
Marine Science, UPR Mayagüez

Jose Juan Fontán Pagán
Civil Engineering, UPR Mayagüez

Keishla Vallejo Muñoz
Civil Engineering, UPR Mayagüez

Alanis P. Delgado
Biotechnology, UPR Mayagüez

Doris M. Laguer
Geology, UPR Mayagüez

UPRAA was represented by four of its Board members: Dr Franklin A. Carrero, Dr. Jacob Lozada, Mr Richard A. Negron and Mr Jose O. Torres. “Today, our scholarship program offers students some badly needed relief from the troubled economic environment in Puerto Rico,” said Richard Negron, UPRAA Board member. UPRAA is doing its part to help our youth in Puerto Rico by giving back. “I hope that when these students reach the top of the success ladder they, too, emulate our example by reaching out and helping others,” said Richard.

Jose Torres, UPRAA’s Vice President, expressed how proud one feels when you are afforded the opportunity to support students in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States through scholarships. He asked all UPR Alumni and Friends to join UPRAA in support of our youth and to build a better tomorrow by giving back.

UPRAA thanks the Ford Fund and Dominion Power for their generosity and expresses very special thanks to Ms. Gloria Rodriguez, CEO of Comunicad and her Staff for their continued support and expertise provided during the coordination of this event.

Visit upraa.org to become a member and support our efforts. Also see the pictures of the scholarships awards ceremony coming soon!

UPRAA Salutes our Veterans!

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

unnamed_1...for their selfless service to our nation and honors one of its own:  Lieutenant Colonel (US Army Retired), Dennis O. Freytes.

It is with great pleasure that UPRAA recognizes one of its own: UPR alumnus, Retired Lieutenant Colonel, Dennis O. Freytes.  Colonel Freytes was recently inducted into the Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame for his distinguished military and civic service.  On 9 November 2016, the Florida Governor and his cabinet recognized his efforts at a well-attended ceremony at the Florida Capitol Building.  The Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame recognizes and honors those military veterans who, through their works and lives during or after military service, have made a significant contribution to the state of Florida through civic, business, public service or other pursuits.

Colonel Freytes has worked as an executive, manager, and as advisor in business, government, non-profits, and community organizations.  He is a community leader serving on community governing boards in support of our elders, youth, families, Veterans, small businesses and national, state, and local government.  During his military service, he commanded Infantry, Special Forces, Airborne, Medical, Engineer, Readiness Group, and ROTC Units on security and humanitarian missions protecting and defending our Freedom.

Colonel Freytes has received various appointments to Governing Boards, served on Government Transition Advisory Committee for American Veterans, and currently serves on Congressional and local Mayor’s American Veterans Advisory Councils.  He holds Master Degrees in Public Administration and in Human Resources, a Bachelor in Business Administration, and served as a Professor of Military Science in the University of Puerto Rico, educating our future leaders.

Colonel Freytes is an example to emulate. We congratulate him on his achievements and thank him for his great service to our nation.

Former UPRAA President Distinguishes Himself As A Nationwide Political Analyst

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

carlosCarlos Mercader is the current Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a D.C. based advocacy organization. He served as Vice-President of UPRAA during the 2012-2014, having served as vice president of the organization the previous the previous two years.  Carlos has distinguished himself as a sought after analyst at Univision, Telemundo, CNNE and other national news organizations. His insights and knowledge of national political issues as well as the Washington, DC political scene has been instrumental to the success of his presentations.  Most recently, Carlos appeared on primetime TV analyzing the recent Presidential debates between the Democratic and Republican candidates. His facility to get to the core of the issues, his great presence before the cameras, and his ability to provide an unvarnished analysis distinguishes him above the rest.

UPRAA is proud of Carlos’ accomplishments and he is proud of UPRAA.  According to Carlos: “I am very proud of all the great work our premier organization in Washington, DC (UPRAA) is doing in support of Puerto Rico and its youth.  The $145,000 plus in scholarships, which UPRAA has awarded to outstanding Hispanic students who have demonstrated superior academic performance and financial need is the best testament of this great organization’s commitment, dedication, and mission focus.  I am very proud of my tenure as President of UPRAA and our many accomplishments.  I will continue to support UPRAA.”

Carlos R. Mercader is an attorney in civil and international human rights law. He serves as Associate Counsel of an international public law firm that specializes in advocating for fundamental human rights at multilateral organizations. He previously worked at the United States Attorney’s Office of Washington DC in the litigation of employment related matters involving the federal government. He also worked at the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.

Carlos has a BA in marketing from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus and a Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico Law School in Ponce.

UPRAA’s 10th Washington, DC, Hispanic Charity Golf Tournament – A Resounding Success!

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

On Friday, September 23rd, 2016, the Association of University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA) celebrated its tenth annual charity golf tournament.

“Our Washington DC Hispanic Charity Golf Tournament, held at Joint Base Andrews, brought a record number of sponsors, players, and Wounded Warriors to play golf and enjoy a beautiful day of friendship, camaraderie, and giving back. We were generously supported by great sponsors like AARP, Andrews Federal Credit Union, Comunicad, DLA Piper, ITDG of Puerto Rico, CSC, Novetta, ESPN, HP, Grant Thornton and ESPN. They made this event possible and we look forward to our continued partnership,” said Alida Rodriguez, President of UPRAA.

According to Alida, whose leadership and commitment was instrumental to the success of this event, “the tournament brought a record number of new sponsors and all current sponsors committed to supporting the event in 2017.  And for the first time ever, we had an impressive number of out of state participants from Alabama, Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Carolina, Ohio, and Puerto Rico.

Participants were blessed with a perfect day of golf among UPR alumni, friends, and supporters to raise funds in support of UPRAA’s scholarship fund, which has awarded over $145,000 in scholarships to outstanding young Hispanic students who have demonstrated academic merit and financial need.  The Air Force One fly-over the players was the “icing on the cake.”

According to Rob Alvarez, UPRAA’s Treasurer and Golf Tournament Committee member, the highly successful tournament increased UPRAA’s scholarships funds by 25%. "This year has been a record-breaking event. We exceeded our planned objectives for the Golf Tournament” added Rob.

According to Robert Negron, CEO of ITDG of Puerto Rico, who sponsored the tournament for the first time and travelled from PR to participate in this event: “this was one of the best golf tournaments I have ever played.  The business relationships and personal contacts I made during the event will be of great value to my business in Puerto Rico.  Sponsoring this event was a very smart business investment for me and my firm!”

"When you are afforded the opportunity to support our Hispanic students in Puerto Rico and throughout the United States through scholarships, it makes us feel extremely proud. I ask all UPR Alumni and Friends to support our youth and help us build a better tomorrow by giving back." said Jose Torres, UPRAA’s Vice President.

UPRAA thanks its volunteers: Luis Bernal, Franklin Carrero-Martínez, Dave Sánchez, Barbara Glasser, Frank Rentas, José Torres, Irene María Rivera-Goyco, Álida Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Katia Henríquez, and Ángela De Jesús for their dedication and hard work to ensure the success of this great charity event.

If you would like see the pictures of the tournament please click here!

Jacob Lozada, PhD
UPRAA Charity Golf Tournament Committee

UPRAA is an IRS approved 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization, incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Activities in Washington DC recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

Each year, Hispanic Heritage month is recognized from September 15 through October 15. The 2016 Theme: "Embracing, Enriching, and Enabling America" invites us to reflect on Hispanic Americans' vitality and meaningful legacy in our Nation's cultural framework.

The Presidential proclamation is available at

Events of Interest:

Location: American History Museum, Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza
Event: Hispanic Heritage Month Festival: Latinidad: Looking into Latina Women's American Experiences
Date: Saturday, 17 September
Time: 1100-1600
Celebrations, Culinary Arts, Demonstrations, Kids & Families, Performances,
Shopping/Book Signing

Location: National Air and Space Museum
Event: Hispanic Heritage Family Day: Innovators in Aviation and Space
Date: Saturday, 8 October
Time: 1000-1500
Visitors will learn about the contributions of Latin Americans to aviation
and space exploration, meet Hispanic scientists and engineers, and
participate in bilingual activities.

Location: National Portrait Gallery, Kogod Courtyard
Event: Hispanic Heritage Month Family Day
Date: Saturday, 15 October
Time: 1130-1500
Visitors can create art, listen to music and dance in celebration of
Hispanic heritage in America.

Location: Smithsonian Museum
Event: Smithsonian American Art Museum Highlights Tour
Date: Saturday, 15 October
Time: 1230-1315 or 1400-1445

Location: Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall
Date: 22 September 2016
Time: 11:30-1:00 pm
Location: Brucker Hall, The US Army Band, Building 400 Cultural Performance: US Army Blues (Mini Concert) Point of Contact: MSG Kenny Kang and SFC
William Reynolds
Phone: (703) 696-2964/8729

Location: Fort Meade
Date: 28 September 2016
Time: 1130-1300
Location: McGill Training Center
Keynote Speaker: Mayor Pro Tem Mr. Bob J. Archuleta
Cultural Performance: Ms. Anna Menendez, Young Audiences, MD
Point of Contact: SFC Derrick Chambers
Phone: (301) 677-6687

Location: Fort Belvoir
Date: 13 October 2016
Time: 1130-1300
Location: Fort Belvoir Community Center
Keynote Speaker: Susana Castillo, Deputy Press Secretary, DC Mayor's Office of Communication
Phone: (703) 805-2288

For further information, see Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute
Hispanic Heritage Month presentation at

2016 Combined Federal Campaign Now Open

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin


Join your fellow federal workers who are making extraordinary things possible with their CFC donations. Support UPRAA #44202 by making a generous contribution to our Hispanic Scholarship Fund through the Combined Federal Campaign. Together we can help Hispanic students achieve their educational dreams and aspirations. We can make it possible!




  • Contribute online at www.cfcnca.org or complete a paper pledge form.
  • You can donate through payroll deduction, the most convenient way to give, or by credit/debit card, eCheck, cash, or check.
  • Remember our code!   4 4 2 0 2

UPRAA Board Member, Jose Orlando Torres recognized by the Government of Puerto Rico

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

Jose Orlando Torres is recognized by the Puerto Rico House of Representatives during a moving ceremony in his hometown of Orocovis, PR.  In a motion presented by Honorable Urayoan Hernandez, the House of Representatives recognized Lieutenant Colonel Jose O. Torres for his distinguished service and accomplishments during his 30 years of service with the Armed Forces of the United States of America.  Lieutenant Colonel Torres is a recipient of the Bronze Medal for meritorious service and actions during the War in Iraq.  He has served throughout the world in multiple assignments and commanded at various levels during his military career.  The Honorable Urayoan Hernandez catalogued the Colonel as an example for our generation and as a representation of all Puerto Rican Soldiers serving with distinction in the Armed Forces of this great nation.

The Mayor of Orocovis, Jesus E. Colon Berlingeri, also recognized the Lieutenant Colonel Torres and declared him a “Distinguished Son of the Town of Orocovis”.

Lieutenant Colonel Torres retired from military service after 30 years of service during a ceremony conducted at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, on 19 May 2016.

UPRAA Announces 2016-2017 Scholarship Program

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

Washington, DC - The Association of University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA) is proud to announce the Scholarship Application season is open for the 2016-2017 academic year. We invite Mayaguez students to apply for the UPRAA/Dominion Power Scholarship. UPRAA and Dominion Resources are proud to employ and support all Mayaguez campus students.

Also, we encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students in all of the UPR campuses to apply for the UPRAA/Ford Scholarship.  UPRAA and Ford Motor Company Fund have been partnering for 3 years now and we together we support future STEM professionals. We congratulate all of you for your efforts in pursuing your studies.  The UPRAA Scholarship Funds will award students who have demonstrated academic merit, commitment to public service, and financial need up to a maximum of $1,000 per academic year to help cover tuition cost for graduate or undergraduate studies.

Please visit our website at https://upraa.org/scholarships to download the application forms, eligibility requirements and important dates related to our Scholarship programs. To ensure your application receives full consideration, read the information included in the scholarship package carefully, follow the application instructions and include ALL required documents including original signature for applicable documents by the due date on Saturday, October 1, 2016.

UPRAA is an organization created to establish a network of University of Puerto Rico (UPR) Alumni in the Continental U.S. and abroad, develop and conduct programs and initiatives for the benefit of the UPR alumni, and support the educational goals of the UPR system. The Association serves as a link between UPR alumni abroad and the UPR system and work towards promoting opportunities and creating a support network for the alumni.  The organization has awarded more than $135,000 in scholarships since it was created in 2003.


An UPRAA Success Story – Dr. Rogelio Mercado-Seda

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

Rogelio, a native of Mayaguez, was the first UPRAA Scholar in 2005. He was the beneficiary of a Scholarship to cover his first year of medical studies at the Medical Sciences Campus (Recinto Ciencias Médicas) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR).  The Scholarship and a Certificate of Achievement were presented during a ceremony attended by School authorities, Rogelio’s relatives, Ms. Sara Clemente, Chair of the UPRAA Scholarship Evaluation Committee, Jacob Lozada, Ph.D., UPRAA Board member and Mr. Tomás Esterrich, UPRAA President.  The Dean of the Medical Sciences campus as we’ll as various leaders of the UPR Medical Sciences campus were also in attendance.

Rogelio studied his Bachelors of Pre-med at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2006. In 2010, he also completed his doctorate degree in medicine at the Medical Sciences Campus and graduated Magna Cum Laude.  Dr. Rogelio Mercado is now working as a dermatologist in the cities of Mayagüez and Aguadilla.  Via Facebook, Rogelio shared with UPRAA how “UPRAA’s Scholarship helped me cover my studies during my first year of medical school”. He learned about the scholarship via the Financial Aid Department at the Medical Sciences Campus.

Rogelio is one of many examples of how our scholarships make a different in the lives of our students.

Honoring Women’s History Month, an interview with Ileana Cruz, Aide to Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor

UPRAA > Articles by: upraa-admin

About Ileana

Ileana Cruz-Marden currently serves as Aide to Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the U.S. Supreme Court.  Before working in Justice Sotomayor’s chambers, Ileana interned in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Office of South & Central Asia, where she worked with the former Deputy Assistant USTR on evaluating progress in safety standards and workers’ rights in the Bangladeshi Ready-Made Garment industry. While at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), Ileana interned with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (under former Chairman John Kerry) through the Cordova-Fernos Internship program and also with the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico through the Ramos-Comas Internship program.  After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), she was hired to be the first employee of ConPRmetidos, a start-up social enterprise dedicated to developing innovative public-private partnerships that advancing Puerto Rico's economic development.  Ileana graduated summa cum laude from the UPR in 2013 with a BA in Political Science; she is a 2008 Gates Millennium Scholar and a 2013 Truman Scholar.

What was the biggest challenges you faced while being a student?

I feel incredibly grateful and fortunate for the opportunities I had as a student at the University of Puerto Rico. However, I realized early on in college that too often students at the UPR -- or in Puerto Rico for that matter -- did not have access to the same scholarship, internship or fellowship opportunities that other students may have had and I saw how this put us at a disadvantage, or at least made it harder for Puerto Rican students to achieve their professional goals. After graduating, I realized that there were many academic and professional opportunities that I missed out on, simply because I didn’t have access to the right information.

Can you share some words of wisdom for current students?

Being a hard worker, having clear goals, a sense of direction, a genuine commitment to serve others - these are qualities that are essential to success.  You can’t control your destiny, but you can place yourself in a good position to receive opportunities and good karma. Students should focus on educating themselves, constantly searching for ways to improve their knowledge and skills, and always finding ways to learn about the world and understand different points of view. Most importantly, students should reflect, early on in their careers, on their own values and guiding principles, and build careers and lifestyles that best suit those ideals. Authenticity is a key part of living a happy, wholehearted life.

How did the programs you participate in help you develop your career and change your life?

I learn about most of these programs by searching online or through word of mouth, either from other students who had participated in these opportunities or from professors who encouraged me to look into them.  I wouldn’t have even considered applying for the Truman Scholarship if it hadn’t been for one of my professors, Dr. Luis Camara, who basically obligated me to apply. He told me: “Ileana, this scholarship is for you.” His support and encouragement made all the difference.

What programs would you recommend for students to apply?

There are so many amazing program students from Puerto Rico can apply for, and it is so important for them to look into them as early as possible as many have specific eligibility requirements!  Programs I have come across include: Gates Millennium Scholarship (undergraduate studies scholarship for high school seniors), Truman Scholarship (graduate studies scholarship for students interested in public service), Gates Cambridge / Rhodes / Marshall scholarships (for students interested in graduate school in the UK), Payne / Rangel Fellowship (graduate studies scholarships for students interested in international relations), Fulbright Scholarship (scholarship to study, conduct research or teach abroad), Boren Fellowship (study abroad scholarship), Luce Scholarship (fully funded fellowship to live and work in Asia), Princeton in Latin America/Asia/Africa (1 year service fellowship), the list goes on and on!

How are you giving back or wanting to give back to the community?

Since I moved to the city, I have been looking into different ways to get more involved with DC community in DC, specifically working with students and youth groups. For the past year, I have been working as a volunteer tutor and mentor with College Bound, a non-profit organization that offers DC public school students tutoring, mentorship opportunities, and academic and career guidance free-of-charge.

What are some of your biggest accomplishments?

  • I was one of the two Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS Scholars) selected from Puerto Rico in 2008. Each year, GMS selects 1,000 high achieving minority students who have demonstrated academic excellence, extracurricular activity involvement, and leadership abilities through participation in community service.
  • I was one of two Truman Scholars selected from Puerto Rico in 2013. The mission of the Truman Scholarship is to recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service and to provide them with financial support for graduate study, leadership training, and fellowship with other students who are committed to making a difference through public service.
  • Was selected to participate in the National Endowment for Democracy’s Penn Kemble Youth Forum on Democracy, a year-long non-residential fellowship for aspiring democracy practitioners and foreign policy professionals to engage in networking, education, and training opportunities with counterparts who share a commitment to international engagement and advancing democracy.
  • I was one of 45 scholars selected to take a week-long leadership development journey across Israel, including meetings with senior leadership in business, government, and not-for-profit organizations with a focus on social entrepreneurship and the development of intentional communities.