National Hispana Leadership Institute
Program Structure
Current Participants
Latinas from Prior Years
How to Apply

The National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) is the premier leadership training institute for Latinas in the country. The Latinas Learning to Lead Institute is an expansion of the outstanding work of the National Hispana Leadership Institute.w

Meet the Latinas Learning to Lead
Class of 2005

Ivet Aldaba, from Las Vegas, Nevada, is a Junior attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas majoring in Communications and Counseling.  She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: gift wrapping for low income families, Bowl-A-Thon to raise money for breast cancer, "This is my life", a pregnancy prevention program, and serving as a facilitator for the Latino Youth Leadership Conference.

"My immediate reaction was "Wow!" I am thrilled, excited, but most importantly humbled to have been chosen. I have seen the impact the program has had on my friends who have participated.  I will represent Nevada, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Hispanic community to the fullest with pride and joy."

Guenny Barriga, from Port Chester, New York, is a Junior attending Fordham University majoring in Accounting and Business Administration. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: serving as a translator for day laborers at meetings and providing them with answers in regards to their civil rights. Guenny was an active member of the Accounting Society at her college.

"I am honored to be a part of this prestigious program. I also feel very blessed to be one of the chosen few. They have truly inspired me to become a positive reinforcement for young Latinas."


Brenda Bautista, from Chicago, Illinois is a Sophomore attending Denison University majoring in Political Science and Economics. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: volunteering at the Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, co-chairing the immigration strategy team of the Organization of the North East, being Treasurer of Denison's Fuerza Latina, serving as a Latino community representative on the Denison Student Senate, and tutoring at Centro Romero.

"I feel extremely honored and grateful to be one of the 21 young Latinas chosen to be part of this prestigious leadership institute."


Miyenu De Montis, from Miami Beach, Florida, is a 2005 graduate from Miami Dade College-Wolfson Campus and will be continuing her studies at Florida International University as a Junior majoring in Business Administration.  She has worked as the Historian, Chair of Community Service, Chair of Multicultural Day and a Senator for the Student Government Association; is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and a Student Ambassador for Miami Dade College. She has organized events at her campus including Multicultural Day, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Thanksgiving Drive for the Dominican Foundation.

 "I am thrilled and honored to have the chance to be part of this year's leadership institute that brings together girls that are leaving an impact in their community. Also, it is a great opportunity to network with women around the US and learn how to make this moving force of Latina women stronger."

Mirtha Lizette Estrada from San Francisco, California, is a Junior attending San Francisco State University majoring in International Relations. She was the past Chairperson for the National Issues Commission, YMCA Youth and Government Program in California, has volunteered at the San Francisco food bank, St. Anthony's dining center, a soup kitchen, and mentored and tutored a second grader. 

"I feel very honored and for me, this program is an opportunity to see women using their education and skills — women who are bettering their lives and dedicating themselves to the betterment of our people.  I am also excited and feel empowered to connect with other young Latinas who have social change and community as their focus."

Roselis Frias, from Union City, New Jersey, is a Senior attending Kean University majoring in Social Work and Psychology. She was a mentor in the Gear-up Program, Assistant Treasurer of the Association of Latin American Students at Kean University, and participates in the Hispanic Association of Higher Education.

"I feel very proud of being selected to this prestigious program, which will enhance my knowledge as a Latina and a growing leader in the United States.”

Teresa Grado, from Kansas City, Kansas, is a Junior attending Harvard College majoring in Government. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: the United Way Youth Action Council and student recruitment for the Harvard Financial Aid Initiative.

"I am deeply honored to be chosen as one of the young Latina leaders who will soon be entrusted with the privilege of guiding the Latino community toward a promising and successful future." 

Mariana Kihuen, from Las Vegas, Nevada, is attending Georgetown University majoring in Government and English. She tutors at-risk minority students at elementary schools in D.C.; summer volunteer for the Democratic National Committee and the Nevada State Democratic Party; is a member of the Georgetown University Judicial Hearing Board and M.E.Ch.A. de Georgetown and representative for the National Association of Hispanic Publications; as well as a motivational speaker at numerous Latino youth events throughout the U.S.

"As the Latino population in the U.S. continues to grow, I am honored and humbled to be selected to participate in an organization that will train the leaders who will develop, define and defend the roles my community has played and will play in this country. I am excited to join a network of talented Latinas that share the same passion for community and country, and look forward to helping my colleagues lead America into the future."

Lynna Martinez, from Cleveland Ohio, is a Senior attending The Ohio State University majoring in International Studies and Spanish. She has worked with the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Esperanza Scholarship Fund, Habitat for Humanity, served on the Hispanic Student Advisory Council at Ohio State, served as an Executive Board member and Programming Committee Chair for Alpha Psi Lambda, the nation's first co-ed Latino interest fraternity, and is a member of Folclor Hispano, a student-based dance ensemble at Ohio State.

 "I am extremely grateful for being given this wonderful opportunity to participate in this leadership institute. It is an honor to be one of 21 powerful Latinas who are looking forward to making a difference in our world.  I am looking forward to meeting other young Latinas, learning from my role models in NHLI, and serving as a role model to other Latinas in the future."

Melissa Montoya-Torres, from Sacramento, California is a Sophomore attending the University of California at Davis majoring in History. Her community service record includes: interning with Senator Deborah Ortiz, serving as a 4th grade class helper, participating in Alternative Break exploring poverty in San Francisco, volunteering at a homeless shelter, a food bank in San Francisco and a Christmas gift give-away.

"I am very honored to be selected as one of the 21 participants. I am excited to meet other motivated Latinas who are going to have a positive impact on the community."

Maria Luisa Parra-Sandoval, from Las Vegas, Nevada is a Sophomore attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas majoring in Political Science. She has volunteered in the following capacities: voter registration, UNLV Student Organization of Latinos Dream Act Campaign, the Cambridge Community Center, El Dia de los Ni–os at the Clark County Government Center, Gear Up, and on the Kappa Delta Chi's "This is My Life" program.

"It is an honor to know that I will be surrounded by 20 other Latina women who are dedicated and passionate about community service and who are change agents in our society."


Ana Perez, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a Junior attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee majoring in Architecture. She has participated in "Freedom by Design," a project led by architecture students with the purpose of remodeling a church in the south side of Milwaukee, and served as a volunteer at Centro Guadalupe and at Head Start in Madison.

"I am planning on taking full advantage of this opportunity by learning as much as I can.  I am especially excited about being able to mentor young girls when I return."

Gisel Ramos, from Provo, Utah, is a Junior attending Brigham Young University majoring in French and Spanish Translation. She has volunteered at the Hunger Banquet, and the Special Olympics in Provo, Utah. Also, she has written and recited poetry for conferences in Utah and Mexico, tutored students in Spanish and French, and worked on public relations in the Mexican Student Association at BYU.  She is currently attending workshops to be an interpreter in hospitals and in the court system and performs in Mexican and Peruvian folk dances at BYU.

"I am happy to be able to serve other women and perhaps to be an influence to other Latin women who are struggling to adapt to different cultures or situations. I also feel very grateful to my God, my parents, relatives and friends who have taught me to always reach out to other people. I believe we live to serve and while we serve, we learn to care for others."

Aisha Rivera, from Tampa, Florida is a Senior attending the University of South Florida majoring in Microbiology.  She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: member and Vice President of Internal Affairs of the Latin American Student Association (LASA), Judeo Christian Health Clinic medical interpreter, a USF College of Medicine research assistant; Meffitt Research Center student researcher and the McNair Scholars Program.

"I think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I look forward to taking full advantage of the knowledge and resources provided to me, so that I can apply this experience to help organizations, others who seek guidance and myself to set and reach goals." 


Carolim Rivera-Rosario, from Humacao, Puerto Rico is a Junior attending the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao majoring in Social Work. She has worked on services directly related to her church, such as visits to the elderly at different asylums, singing in the church choir, collecting clothes for the people affected by hurricanes on the island and preparing different topics to present at religious retreats for the young.

"I feel privileged to have been selected to participate in this Institute. I will be able to develop my skills to help other Latina women and serve them as best as I can. I feel that I will be a role model for the younger generations of Latina women who I will have contact with as I complete my baccalaureate degree in Social Work and begin to work in this field."

Alejandra Rodriguez, from Brownsville, Texas is a Sophomore attending the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southwest College majoring in Nursing. She has volunteered for the Beeping Easter Egg Hunt with the Texas Commission for the Blind, Buena Vida Coat and Toy Drive, and Día de los Niños, an exciting event where migrant pre-school children had the opportunity to explore a world of adventure through hands-on activities at the local museum.

"I am very happy and honored to receive such a prestigious scholarship and very proud of representing the young Latina women from South Texas. I feel the great responsibility to further develop my education and leadership skills. My Hispanic values combined with my leadership skills will make the difference in our country. Being a part of NHLI is an asset in my personal and educational life."

Leticia Rodriguez, from Pacoima, California is a Junior attending Stanford University, majoring in Political Science. Her community service record includes: Community Service Work Study Intern for Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC), and for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 715; tutor and mentor for elementary school children in East Palo Alto; tutor for Adult English Language Learners at Stanford and Pacoima; and ballet folklórico at Stanford University.

"I am both amazed and thrilled that NHLI chose to support me in my efforts to ensure that the voice of disadvantaged communities is heard in all sectors of the U.S. This program is not only about our careers and our lives; it is also about assisting us Latinas in creating a more just society.  I feel honored to be a part of a group of dedicated, socially aware Latinas who are passionate about making a positive difference in this world."

Selina Gallego Rodriguez, from Tucson, Arizona, is a Junior attending the University of Arizona majoring in Sociology. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: mentoring youth at Hohokam and Valencia Middle School with Tucson's United School District's Mexican American/ Raza Studies Department, Outreach Coordinator for the Cesar E. Chavez Conference and the Chicano por La Causa's Xinachtli Youth

"I truly believe that this Institute will help me become a stronger contributor to my community.  Furthermore, I believe that it will help me develop a greater insight into the building process that we as a Latino community must engage in, in order to create greater and stronger pathways for those who come after us."

Daisy Talavera, from Avondale, Arizona, is a Sophomore attending Arizona State University majoring in English. Her community service record includes: President of the Team Trio organization, student government Senator, Alternative Spring Break in Tijuana, Mexico to build homes for the poor and a St. Louis the King parish youth group facilitator.

"I am honored and grateful to participate in such a prestigious program that will help me develop the leadership skills I already have in order to better serve the Hispanic community."

Lynn Thomasson, from Potomac Falls, Virginia is a Junior attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Journalism. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: writing for Endeavors Magazine and Science Carolina, English as a Second Language Instructor, and serving as a student leader for the Carolina Office of Leadership Development.

"I am excited to participate in this opportunity that will allow me to better serve the Hispanic community." 

Rocio Villalobos, from Austin, Texas, is a Senior attending the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Early Childhood Education-Bilingual. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes: tutoring at several Austin schools such as Metz Elementary and Ortega Elementary and working for the East Austin environmental justice group PODER for the past year and a half.

"I am extremely honored and privileged to have been chosen to participate alongside such strong Latinas. There is a lot we can learn from each other and I know the experience will help me grow in every aspect of my life."


Back to top

National Hispana Leadership Institute Selection Criteria & Cost NHLI News Calendar of Events The  Mujer Award Our Corporate Sponsors Alumnae Information Employment Opportunities Resources & Links Articles about NHLI Become a friend La Tiendita