National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 27 Years of Latina Leadership  

LLL Class of 2009 with NHLI President Cristina Lopez

Latinas Learning to Lead Program

Sponsored by:


The Ford Motor Company

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Graduates of the Program

Latinas Learning to Lead Class of 2011

Sonia Alvarez  

Sonia Alvarez
Canutillo, Texas

*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Sonia Alvarez is a third year student at the University of Texas pursuing a degree in Social Work. Passionate about bridging services and educational resources to minorities and at-risk populations, Sonia has interned with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and mentored/tutored through Casa Maraniella. Adventurous and with a love for dance, Sonia also enjoys engaging in cultural exchanges with international students on campus and learning new languages. Sonia studied abroad in Spain last summer and hopes to keep traveling the world to expand her cultural competence and gain a greater understanding of world relations.

amber campa  

Amber Nicole Campa
Donna, Texas
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Amber Campa is a rising sophomore at Boston University, studying Mechanical Engineering. She is a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and will be the organization's Treasurer in the Fall. Inspired by volunteering in Texas on a regular basis during high school, she currently works as the Outreach Coordinator with students in Roxbury, the "heart of Black culture in Boston," and has volunteered with these children on a bi-weekly basis through the organization of their Science Club. Amber's academic achievements have been recognized through receipt of the the prestigious Gates Millenium Scholars Program Scholarship Award.

nayely chavez  

Nayely Chavez
Pacoima, California
Nayely Chavez is a second year student at the University of California, Berkeley. She plans on majoring in Public Health with a focus on Health Policy and Management. Her love for teaching has moved her to volunteer with the Peer Health Exchange for the last two years. Through this program, she teaches a Rape and Sexual Assault workshop in several high schools in Oakland, California. She is also an active member of the Cal Undergraduate School of Public Health Coalition where she participates in health related volunteer events. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and scrapbooking.

asia garcia  

Asia Garcia
Lawrence, Massachusetts
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Asia Garcia will be a second year student at Brandeis University this fall. She was part of the university's Transitional Year Program and will continue this year to focus her studies on Latino and Latin American studies as well as Anthropology or International and Global studies. Fluent in both Spanish and English, she aspires to volunteer with more organizations benefiting immigrants, whether undocumented or not, offering educational resources otherwise not provided by the government. Previously an instructor to Spanish speaking adults on basic computer skills, Asia wishes to continue doing similar work in the future.

adelvia gomez  

Adelvia Gomez
Boston, Massachusetts
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Adelvia Gomez is a rising junior, pursuing a double major in Psychology and Gender Studies and a double minor in Hispanic Studies and Education at Brandeis University. She has devoted more than one hundred hours to volunteer service that includes conducting research for an educational marine biology camp, working in an orphanage in Honduras, assisting in seminaries in countries like Cuba, and community organizing in Boston. She is currently serving her fifth year in a children's academic program in which she counsels and guides children ages five to eighteen, helping them take a more positive path in life.

karina gonzalez  

Karina Graciela Gonzalez
La Puente, California
Karina Gonzalez is a rising senior and will receive her Bachelors of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning with an emphasis in Policy from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Energized by serving inner-city youth in East Los Angeles, she has volunteered with several organizations, mainly Volunteers of America, to serve low-income families and troubled youth with resources and services towards self-sufficiency. She is currently a writing tutor and workshop facilitator to UCSD freshmen trying to fulfill their writing requirement. She is also a tutor and advisor to high school students through Reality Changers, San Diego.

stephanie landaverde  

Stephanie Landaverde
East Ellijay, Georgia
Stephanie Landaverde is a fourth year student at the University of Georgia, working on a B.B.A in Management Information Systems. Stephanie recently completed a 4-week program in China focusing on Globalization and information technology. In the fall, she will be serving as the President of the Hispanic Student Association and hopes to use her position to increase higher education opportunities for Latinos and women in the state of Georgia.  After graduation, Stephanie plans to use her degree to develop new technologies to help companies be environmentally friendly while maintaining high profits.

melissa macaya  

Melissa Eleni Macaya
San Antonio, Texas
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Melissa Macaya is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Latin American Studies Honors and Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Government. Melissa serves as the Spanish editor of the Student Journal of Latin American. She has undertaken additional leadership roles on campus as a Vice-President of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Vice-President of the UT National Association of Hispanic Journalists Chapter. Melissa also studied abroad in Spain and conducted field research on censorship in Havana, Cuba. After graduation, she plans on pursuing graduate education and a career that mixes her love for journalism and Latin American affairs.

maritza mantilla  

Maritza Lizbeth Mantilla
Irvine, California
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Maritza Mantilla is currently a third year student at University of California, Irvine (UCI), double majoring in Political Science and International Studies. Her passion for International Politics led her to intern in Washington D.C. for Women In International Security, a global NGO. In her pursuit to contribute at a global scale, she mentors/teaches high school students in English and Spanish in a series of workshops designed to prepare them for higher education and inform them of issues relevant to them and the world. She is also currently serving as UCI's Community Service and Leadership Program's Support and Development Coordinator.

mayra martinez  

Mayra Alejandra Martinez
Las Vegas, Nevada
Mayra Martinez is a rising senior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), working towards a degree in Social Work with a minor in drug prevention. Mayra has volunteered with numerous groups including the Student Organization of Diversity Affairs. Before transfering to UNLV, she attended the College of Southern Nevada where she organized and became president of the Student Organization of Latino (SOL). An advocate for families, Mayra plans to complete a dual graduate program with law and social work and one day open a nonprofit organization dedicated to legal assistance and family advocacy.

tatiana medina  

Tatiana Medina
Wesley Chapel, Florida
Tatiana Medina recently finished her Associates of Arts from Hillsborough Community College. In the fall of 2011, she will be transferring to Florida International University where she plans to major in international business and minor in international relations. As the oldest of her siblings and the first to attend college in the US, she strives to be the best possible example for her younger brother and sister. Her active involvement at Hillsborough Community College earned her a position as a Student Ambassador of her campus and she currently enjoys volunteering to help other students succeed in college.

tanairi ochoa  

Tanairi Ochoa
Phoenix, Arizona
Tanairi Ochoa, a sophomore at St. Mary's University, is the first in her family to attend college. She is an Honors student studying International Relations and Political Science. Raised in Arizona, she continues to be a proud and active alumna of Aguila Youth Leadership, a program that prepares Latino/as for college. Passionate about serving others, Tanairi volunteers through the Marianist Leadership Program. She also serves as Sophomore Senator in the Student Government Association and tirelessly advocates for immigration rights and passage of the DREAM Act. In the future, she hopes to become an immigration lawyer to protect and help the Hispanic community.

celeste orta  

Celeste Marie Orta
San Antonio, Texas
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Celeste Marie Orta is a rising sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin and would like to major in International Relations with a minor in Business Foundations. Last spring, she interned for her Congressman Charles Gonzalez in his San Antonio, TX office. Celeste currently holds several leadership positions in organizations such as the Longhorn Scholars, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Latino Leadership Council, and Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA). As a future Hispanic professional, Celeste's plans are to help every child succeed.

carol pereales  

Carol Perales
San Antonio, Texas
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Carol Perales will be a senior at the University of Texas at Austin this fall. She will be graduating in May with a Bachelors of Art in Sociology and American Studies, with a minor in Psychology. Carol is currently a member of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Inc. a service organization dedicated to helping the Hispanic community and developing sisterhood and leadership. She has volunteered with several community organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, the UT Freshman Admission Center and Latinas Leading Tomorrow, an afterschool program empowering Latina youth.


Juana Karina Plascensia
Portland, Oregon

Karina Plascencia is a rising sophomore at Georgetown University, majoring in International Economic Development. She enjoys learning about diversity and foreign cultures and is currently studying Arabic, with plans to begin learning Portuguese in the fall. Karina is very active on campus, serving in the School of Foreign Service Academic Council and also as Community Service Chair of MECHA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán). She has also tutors elementary school students one-on-one through DC Reads and volunteers with the Hispanic Catholic Ministry on campus.

sabrina pratts  

Sabrina Joy Pratts
Seymour, Connecticut
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Sabrina Pratts is a rising junior at Boston University, working towards a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from the School of Management. She is a Student Manager at Warren Dining at BU and a volunteer for numerous organizations. For the past three years, Sabrina has been a volunteer counselor at a camp for children affected by HIV and AIDS. She is also active in the campus community, volunteering her time as an Eboard member for Alianza Latina as well as for various school events such as Relay for Life, a fundraiser for cancer research, and BU's Multi Cultural Weekend.

francisca rodriguez  

Francisca Javiera Rodriguez Montoya
Burke, Massachusetts
Francisca Rodriguez Montoya, a rising sophomore, attends Mount Holyoke College, a women's college in Massachusetts, where she plans to major in Biology or Chemistry and minor in French. She fences sabre, a faster-paced type of fencing, and volunteers in the Best Buddies program at Berkshire Music Academy for students with special needs. Francisca is also the vice president of the Biology club and belongs to four committees in the Student Government Assembly. In high school, she tutored Chemistry and now continues to work as a personal tutor in Massachusetts. In her spare time, Francisca enjoys attending lectures.

erika santacruz  

Erika Santacruz
Baldwin Park, California
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Erika Santacruz is rising senior at the University of California, Irvine, working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Chicano Latino Studies. She is passionate about bringing change through education and seeks to empower other Latino students through her volunteer work. Erika currently tutors young children at several elementary schools, reads in Spanish to Spanish speaking toddlers, and advises high school students on life skills and getting into college through the Early Academic Outreach Program. Her leadership on campus also includes serving as founder and treasurer of the Feminine Leaders in Outreach of La Raza (F.L.O.R.).

bianca tellez  

Bianca Annette Tellez
El Centro, California
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Bianca Annette Tellez graduated with an Associate's Degree in Social Sciences from Imperial Valley College and is now a senior at the University of California Irvine, majoring in Criminology, Law & Society, with a minor in Conflict Analysis & Resolution. Bianca enjoys helping her community, especially around issues of civil rights, criminal justice, international law, immigration and coalition peace building. She has served as a tutor for students with disabilities and was a leader and team organizer for the Criminology Outreach Program. Raised in a rural border town, she is particularly interested in assimilating cultural disparities and reaching potential agreements in the peace process.

sara torres  

Sara Janese Torres
Salt Lake City, Utah
Sara Torres, a rising junior, attends the University of Utah and is working towards her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and a minor in Chemistry. Motivated to serve her community, she became an activist in the Mestizo Arts & Activism Project, informing Latino/a youth of opportunities to pursue post-secondary education. She also joined the Social Justice Scholars through the Honors College, working with her peers to bridge scholarly work with activism in the community. Sara has also served as a tutor in the Adelante Program for underprivileged children and currently works full time at a hotel.

yesenia vallejo  

Yesenia Marisela Vallejo
Compton, California
*Building Latino-Jewish Bridges on Campus Fellow
Yesenia Vallejo is currently a junior at the University of California, Irvine with a major in Criminology, Law and Society and an intended minor in Chicano/Latino studies. Inspired and determined to make a change in her community, Yesenia started to work with MESA, a program that helps educationally disadvantaged students go to college and particularly emphasizes engineering, math, and science as future careers for underrepresented minorities. Yesenia is also training to become a REACH (Reaffirming Ethnic Awareness Community Harmony) peer facilitator. Yesenia enjoys working with K-12 students and role modeling for them that college is a real possibility.

tania veloz  

Tania Veloz
Brooklyn, New York
Tania Veloz is a junior at The College of New Rochelle, majoring in Business with a minor in French. On campus, Tania is vice-president of the Latin American Women's Society, a member of the cross country team, and a Wellness Coach, educating other students about health and wellness. Passionate about service to others, Tania also volunteers off-campus as a tutor for students learning English as a second language and is an active volunteer in her church. Tania plans to become a Certified Public Accountant with the goal of owning her own business and being a leader in the business community.