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.

An UPRAA Love Story

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The Association of the University of Puerto Rico Alumni Association and Friends Abroad (“UPRAA”) is the primary network dedicated to bringing together the alumni and friends of the University of Puerto Rico (“UPR”). Our organization is not-for-profit and composed solely of volunteers. Our events are hosted for the purpose of fostering interests common to our members, uniting our community and raising funds for our Hispanic Scholarship Fund. With the coming celebration of Valentine’s Day, we would like to share the love story of Carlos R. Pesquera and Bárbara (“Barbie”) Fas-Ramos.

Barbie and Carlos met in 2013 at an UPRAA membership event in Dupont Circle. It was a rainy Thursday afternoon and both of them almost decided not to attend. All of a sudden, the rained stopped and there were no excuses. Upon arrival to the networking event, they were introduced by mutual friends. After customary pleasantries, they both continued socializing with other people, each knowing that Cupid had smitten them. The night continued and Carlos found his way through the crowd back to Barbara, a move Barbara had been hoping for. After scheming a way to get Barbara’s number, Carlos invited her on a date. Seven countries, five road trips, and twelve "Wawa" trips later, they got engaged in Croatia and married in Puerto Rico in December.

About the newlyweds:
Barbara Fas-Ramos studied at the UPR at Mayagüez “Colegio” and was president of the Eta Gamma Delta (ETA) at UPR- Mayagüez.

Carlos R. Pesquera is a friend of the UPR and his family members are all graduates of the UPR. His sister graduated from the UPR Law School, while his parents are graduates of the UPR at Mayaguez, where his father was a professor in the School of Engineering.

UPRAA’s heart is its members, and this love story serves as a testimony of how powerful our network is.

UPRAA Women’s Leadership series celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

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Over twenty attendees joined us for an intimate  conversation on the use of Hispanic Media as a tool for education and community outreach. The conversation was by led byLatina Leader: Ivelisse Estrada, Senior Vice President from Univisión Communications Inc.

UPRAA Women’s Leadership series celebrates Hispanic Heritage  Month
Washington, DC–-On October 8th, The Association of University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (“UPRAA”) hosted  Ivelisse R. Estrada, senior vice president of Corporate Relations and Community Empowerment for Univision Communications Inc.(UCI), and twenty other rising and established community leaders in an intimate breakfast, as part of UPRAA’s Women's Leadership Series.

The networking event, which focused on Ms. Estrada’s insights on the use of Hispanic media as a tool for education and community outreach, inspired an energetic conversation among attendees from diverse industries. The discussion covered the importance of empowering women, giving back to Puerto Rico, and engaging in issues that are crucial in the Hispanic community, such as voter mobilization, healthy living and education.

Ms. Estrada, who has been part of Univision for nearly 25 years, shared with the group valuable lessons she has learned in her career as a pioneer of multiple national education initiatives, including the importance of supporting and joining forces with those that are already working to accomplish change. “You have to learn from those that have led the way,” said Ms. Estrada. “We have to learn from each other and help those that are coming behind us. Changing behaviors takes time and
is a group effort. We need to work together to promote the interests of our community.”

Ms. Estrada also highlighted that the key to success in any good outreach campaign is to account for the changing landscape of communications by being aware of the emerging ways of communicating with audiences. “As part of Univision’s many efforts to build awareness and accomplish change in the Hispanic community, we have created and promoted digital tools, developed community outreach campaigns and also integrated important messages in to our programing,” explained Ms. Estrada. “You want to reach everybody, and for that you have to use multiple platforms and channels.”

Ms. Estrada has led the development of several programs under the award-winning empowerment platform Univision Contigo, which focuses on four areas important to the Hispanic community including education, health, prosperity and civic participation.

“Ivelisse has been on the field making things happen for a long time,” said Jacob Lozada, UPRAA co-founder. “All of us have a lot to learn from being exposed to role models like Ivelisse.”

“This was an opportunity for women of all backgrounds and all ages to learn from each other,” said Cristina Bartolomei, moderator of the event and member of the steering committee. “We made a conscious decision to participate in this event because, even though we live abroad, we want  to learn new ways to give back to Puerto Rico.”

About UPRAA Women's Leadership Series
The Women's Leadership Series is a network series for women members of UPRAA designed as an added incentive to their membership. The series brings UPRAA women together through professional development activities, including a breakfast and luncheon series with inspiring women leaders, as well as a mentoring circle for rising and established women leaders within the membership. The creation of this series is the result of a global movement to empower women and reduce the gender gap in senior positions in all sectors.

About the keynote speaker:
Ms. Ivelisse R. Estrada has been Senior Vice President of Corporate and Community Empowerment for Univision Communications Inc. since 2004. Ms. Estrada, who joined Univision in 1991, is responsible for the overall development and coordination of community relations strategies for Univision Communications. Previously, Ms. Estrada was Director of Corporate and Community Relations for Univision Television Group where she supervised the public affairs and community efforts of Univision Television Group's owned-and-operated stations. Ms. Estrada earned her Undergraduate Degree in Liberal Arts from Barnard College in New York City and Master's Degrees from Princeton University and Harvard University.

UPRAA celebrates its tenth annual Charity Golf tournament to benefit Hispanics

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This year’s golf tournament included an air show, a group of wounded warriors and numerous women golfers.
Washington, DC (September 18, 2015) - The Association of the University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA) celebrated its annual Hispanic Charity Golf Classic on Friday, September 18, 2015, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. The successful tournament raised $30,000 for UPRAA’s Hispanic Scholarship Fund. This year’s tournament marked our tenth anniversary and broke the record of having the most players, including wounded warriors and women golfers.

Jacob Lozada, co-founder of UPRAA, shared how “throughout the years, this annual fundraising event has become more and more popular and is most acclaimed in the Hispanic community. This tournament is a good way to get involved and support our Scholarship Fund and also play in the exclusive golf course where Presidents play!” UPRAA’s Annual Hispanic Charity Golf Classic is the main source of revenue for the non-profit organization.

This year, the tournament was more special than ever, as the Andrews Air Show Rehearsal was taking place and all players enjoyed the spectacle of different aircraft in action such as the F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon and WW-II era P-51 Mustang, as well as and the legendary para-commandos with the American flag. For the first time, we had the largest ever group of wounded warriors and women playing from UPRAA’s newest women leadership program: UPRAA Women.

This prestigious event was attended by Dr. Uroyoán R. Walker-Ramos, President of the University of Puerto Rico, and Dr. John Fernández-Van Cleve, Dean of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. Among the main sponsors were Andrews Federal Credit Union, Forestall Capital, CSC, Hewlett Packard Caribbean, AARP and Univision.

In the last ten years, UPRAA has granted over $100,000 in scholarships to Hispanic students thanks to the annual Hispanic Golf Classic. "UPRAA is extremely grateful to our sponsors, friends and alumni to help us achieve this significant fundraising to help the future of our island. Thanks to them we strengthen our mission of improving the quality of life of our students, who are the future,” said Leonardo San Roman, President of UPRAA.

 

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UPRAA joins the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC)

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You can help too by designating UPRAA (#44202) as your charity of choice starting September 1st.
You can help too by designating UPRAA (#44202) as your charity of choice starting September 1st.

The Association of University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA) Board of Directors is proud to announce that UPRAA is now part of the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area (CFCNCA).  The CFCNCA is a great opportunity to help our Hispanic scholarship fund and charity efforts.

During the 2014 campaign, the CFCNCA raised over $49 Million for distribution among all participating charities.  UPRAA encourages everyone to donate during this year’s campaign from September 1, through December 31, 2015.  Your generous contribution to UPRAA via the CFCNCA will help Hispanic students achieve their educational dreams and aspirations.

During the past 10 years, UPRAA has awarded over $100,000 in scholarships to Hispanic students who have demonstrated commitment to public service, academic merit, and financial need.  Our scholarshp programs have also supported the Carlos Rosario Charter School in Washington DC, the HOME organization in Fredericksburg VA, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, the Family Services, Inc, in Maryland and the “Centro de Servicios Abriendo Nuevos Surcos” in Puerto Rico. UPRAA is a volunteer-based organization; all funds raised go directly to scholarships and charity.

Join your fellow federal employees who are making extraordinary things possible with their CFCNCA donations.  Every gift, large or small, is greatly appreciated.  Donating is simple and secure.  We encourage you to share this message to your friends and family that are working for the Federal Government. Together we are stronger and can have a bigger impact in the lives of Hispanic students.

Starting September 1, 2015, Here’s how you can donate:

  1. Go to: www.cfcnca.org.  Contribute online or complete a paper pledge form at your organization. You can also donate through payroll deduction (the most convenient way to give to UPRAA) or by credit card, debit card, eCheck, cash, or check.
  2. Designate UPRAA as your charity of choice by using: Code# 44202
  3. Rest assured that your contribution is definitely making a difference!

For help making your pledge, visit www.cfcnca.org or call 202-465-7230.

 

“Together we can make it possible!”

UPRAA Awards Scholarships to Outstanding Students

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San Juan – As part of its mission to support Hispanics achieve their career goals, the Association of University of Puerto Rico Alumni and Friends Abroad (UPRAA) awarded scholarships to 12 outstanding students for their academic excellence.

The President of the University of Puerto Rico, Dr. Uroyoan Walker Ramos, received the delegation of UPRAA, headed by its president, Leonardo San Roman, and Vice President, Álida T. Rodriguez, and the students awarded with distinction. The scholarship recipients were selected by UPRAA’s Scholarship Committee based on a set of evaluation criteria including academic performance, letters of recommendation and personal statements.

UPRAA President Leonardo San Roman explained how over the years, UPRAA has become the liaison between Puerto Rico and the diaspora of Boricua professionals who are committed to the future of Puerto Rico and are investing in education. A selected group of highly qualified students were awarded $12,000 in scholarships and were recognized for their academic accomplishments.

In the past 12 years, the UPRAA has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to graduate students from the University of Puerto Rico through the generosity of alumni, friends and its annual fundraiser, the Hispanic Charity Golf Tournament.

UPRAA would like to announce a new round of scholarships thanks to the support of the Ford Foundation. This Scholarships Program targets students planning to pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at any of the University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) 11 campuses. The STEM scholarship application package is available at www.upraa.org. Deadline to submit complete application packages is October 15, 2015.