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

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JT - UPRAA News Pic

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

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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

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Giving back to our talent of Puerto Rico!

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

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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.

UPRAA Board Member, Dr. Frances Colón has been appointed as Member of the Board of Directors of Grupo Guayacán Inc.

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Frances Colón, was selected to be a Member of the Board of Directors at of Grupo Guayacán Inc. Frances is a woman of many talents, in addition to her role as Membership Chair in UPRAA’s Board of Directors, she is also the Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State, founding board member of Cenadores PR. She is also a Puerto Rican scientist, advocate, policy leader. We congratulate Frances on her new role! About Dr. Frances Colón: Frances is the Deputy Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State where she promotes integration of science and technology into foreign policy dialogues; global advancement of women in science; and innovation as a tool for economic growth around the world. In her role as a science diplomat, Frances has overseen the creation of the Networks of Diasporas in Engineering and Science and coordinated climate change policy for the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas announced by President Obama. Her first steps in diplomacy were in the Muslim world, enhancing K-12 science and math education cooperation. Her most recent adventures have her developing avenues for collaboration between scientists in the United States and Cuba. Dr. Colón is founding board member of Cenadores PR, a non-profit that harnesses the connections and expertise of the Puerto Rican diaspora to empower civil society on the island of Puerto Rico. She is a graduate of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, fellow of the U.S.-Japan Leadership Program and delegate to the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations Young Leaders Forum. She is recipient of the ConPRmetidos 2015 Ideas x Puerto Rico Award and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s 2015 Inspira Award. Colón earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience in 2004 from Brandeis University and her B.S. in Biology in 1997 from the University of Puerto Rico where her passion for science was sparked as an undergraduate researcher.

About Grupo Guayacan

Grupo Guayacán, Inc. (GGI) is a private sector driven non-profit organization. Our vision is to lead in building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that develops global entrepreneurs and global ventures to be an engine of economic and social value creation in Puerto Rico. Our mission is to foster, promote and develop a vibrant market for private equity in Puerto Rico together with a rapidly growing community of global entrepreneurs and global venture

UPRAA Board Member Richard Negrón has been selected for HITEC’s Emerging Executive Program

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Richard Negrón was selected by HITEC (Hispanic IT Executive Council) to be part of their Emerging Executive Program. Richard was nominated because of his outstanding performance and leadership at Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). Mr Negrón will have an assigned IT executive coach for 9 months and will graduate at the Q4 HITEC Summit in Silicone Valley this year. HITEC is premiere global executive leadership organization for senior IT executives and is focused on building stronger technology and executive leaders, leadership teams, corporations, and role models in a rapidly changing, flatter, and information technology centric world. The Emerging Executive Program (EEP) develops emerging Hispanic IT leaders with the highest potential and desire to become the next generation of Hispanic IT Executive leaders. We congratulate Richard in his challenge!

About Richard Negrón

Richard Negrón is the Principal Cloud Sales Executive for Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC). He educates and consults with global companies around Cloud adoption and the journey to the Digital enterprise. His territory includes the Mid-Atlantic all through-out South America. Richard is also the HITEC Champion for CSC, an advisor to CSC Human Resources for Puerto Rico talent development, and Co-Chair of the Employee Resource Group: Mosaic (Hispanics, African American, and Pacific Islanders). Richard holds a Bachelor in Business Administration with a major in Finance from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Old Dominion University, and a Masters of Management Information System from the University of Phoenix. He also holds certifications in PMP, ITIL, and Lean Six Sigma. Richard joined our Board of Directors on January, 2016 with the purpose of wanting to make a difference in the lives of our students on the Island as well as advancing the goals of our community.