National Hispana Leadership Institute - Celebrating 27 Years of Latina Leadership  

Latinas Learning to Lead Program

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The Ford Motor Company

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Graduates of the Program

Latinas Learning to Lead Class of 2003


Karemi Alvarez is currently a Freshman attending San Diego State University, where she is majoring in Music. She was selected to this program because of her community service record, which includes: being a volunteer Latin dance instructor for young adults and adolescents, working on the theatre production “Ghost of the Gods”, being President of her senior class at Lazaro Cardenas High School, and working at the Parent Institute for Quality Education where she is responsible for translating and assisting classes.



Priscilla Beas, from Indio, California, is a Junior at the University of California, Irvine and is majoring in Sociology. Her community service includes mentoring and tutoring children at several surrounding schools in her area ranging from kindergarten to high school. Priscilla also takes part in an outreach program at her university that targets students from underserved communities to get on the college-bound track.



Gabriela Bermudez is a Senior attending Syracuse University in upstate New York. She is double majoring in International Relations and Spanish. Gabriela has been active in her community for many years. She works with the Gear Up Program as a mentor for two high school sophomores in Syracuse, NY, she works in the Office of Supportive Services at SU and is a teachers assistant in a second grade class at the Martin Luther King School through the Literacy Corps. Gabriela is also a Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Scholar and is currently conducting research with a mentor on Latino gender roles and how it affects the transition to higher education.



Christine Cruz Boone, from Granada Hills, California, is a Senior at California State University, Northridge. Christine is majoring in Communication Studies. She was selected to this program because of her extensive community service record, which includes working with the Southern California Urban Debate League, which facilitates debate programs in under funded high schools. She also has a long time involvement with the Bakersfield St. Vincent de Paul Society and is a national AmeriCorps member.



Dominic Duran is from Los Angeles, California, and is attending the University of Southern California. She is a Senior majoring in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and is also pursuing minors in Business and Sociology. Dominic was selected for this program because of her community service record, which is diverse and extensive. She is currently the Vice President of the Color Blind Cinema Society and the Latino Student Assembly Representative for Nuestra Alma Latina. She is the Gala Coordinator for the Latino Business Student Association and is the Social Chair, Public Relations Chair, and Historian for Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc. at USC.



Vanessa Ferniza, a Sophomore attending the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is majoring in Political Science and Spanish. She is very active in her community. Vanessa teaches students from elementary school about Cesar Chavez and the impact he has had on labor rights, interprets for Spanish speaking high school students previewing college, and speaks with students from Centro Hispano about personal experiences and motivates them to go to college.



Alina Hernandez, who resides in Portland, Oregon, is a Senior attending the University of Oregon majoring in Spanish and Journalism. Alina was selected because of her various community service activities such as working with middle school students and helping them with their homework and teaching them to be proud of their Latino heritage. She is also a tutor at the HEP program at the University of Oregon and is currently a member of MECHA.



Tamara Lam-Plattes currently lives in New York, New York and attends Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Tamara is a Senior obtaining a double major in Political Science and Hispanic Studies. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes working at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center in San Antonio, Texas; tutoring at the Alfred Lima Elementary School in Providence; and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.



Ana Bertha Leon is attending San Jose State University majoring in Social Work. She is extremely active in her community and was selected to the program because of her service. Ana has served six years as the Youth Project Coordinator in Barrios Unidos/Caminos del Arte, has been a group leader for the Young Women Empowerment Project (YWEP) in Catholic Charities, and has participated in the Cesar Chavez Day in San Jose, California.



Jennifer Marlene Lopez, from Las Vegas, Nevada, is currently a Senior attending the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is majoring in Communications and has an extensive community service record. Jennifer serves as Vice President of the Latino Youth Leadership Alumni, was a facilitator in the Latino Youth Leadership Conference, is a member of the Best Youth Council and the Public Relations Student Society of America, UNLV Chapter.



Patricia Madrigal is a Sophomore majoring in Education at Washington State University. She is very active in her community and serves at the Odd Fellows Assisted Living Center in Walla Walla, Washington where she plays games, sings, and interacts with elders. Patricia also serves at the Walla Walla homeless shelter where she makes room for new families and helps prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner, and she also tutors and mentors younger students.


Keila Molina hails from San Luis, Arizona, and attends Biola University in California. Keila is a Junior majoring in Social Sciences and has an extensive community service record. She is a Senator in the Biola University Associated Student Government, is the President of the Unidos Club, a leader for the Spring Break Mexico Mission Trip, and is a member of the Biola Gospel Choir.



Christina Pacheco, from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, is a Senior at the University of Minnesota, Morris majoring in both Political Science and Latin American Studies. Christina was accepted into this program because of her community service record. She does community outreach and organizes farm workers in rural Minnesota, works as an English as a Second Language teacher, and is involved in service learning, where she taught basic Spanish to third graders.



Laura Peralta, from Anaheim, California, is a Senior attending the University of California, Irvine. Laura is majoring in Sociology and Political Science. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes having volunteered with ReLeaf Anaheim and the annual distribution of Christmas baskets at Jackson Elementary in Santa Ana. She also volunteers at a Catholic worker house in Santa Ana, the Think Together Tutoring Program, and the LBSA Toiletry Drive for the Los Angeles mission.



Krystal Reyes is a Junior attending New York University where she is majoring in Political Science and Spanish Literature. Krystal is from Moline, Illinois. She is very active in her community and has been the Director for the past two years of Women and Youth Supporting Each Other, a mentoring program for eighth grade girls. She is also the Secretary of the Student Activities Board at NYU and is a Resident Assistant at the University, assisting undergraduates with their transition to college.



Graciela Rodriguez-Santos lives in Riverdale, Maryland and attends Howard University in Washington, D.C. She is a senior majoring in Nursing. Graciela was selected because of her community service record, which includes volunteering with members of the Howard University Nursing Students Association in various community activities, and being a member of the Socialization to Success Advisory Board. She also holds workshops for faculty and students to learn how to communicate with Latino patients and volunteers to teach medical Spanish at local hospitals.



Maria G. Romero is a Freshman attending California State University, Sacramento majoring in Business Administration. She is extremely active in her community and is a student panelist at the Migrant Education Youth Leadership Conference, tutors at the East Union High School in Manteca, California, and volunteers at the Cesar Chavez Leadership Conference. Maria also is a member of the French Camp Church Choir and MAR (Mujeres Ayundando la Raza).



Ester “Marie” Salazar, from San Antonio Texas is a Senior attending the University of Texas at San Antonio majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Early Childhood. Ester Marie was selected because of her extensive community service record such as being a member of the Student Alumni Association, and volunteering at events such as the Diploma Dash, Alamo Heights Night, and Gala. She also volunteers at the Valley Grande Manor Retirement Home and the Sunrise Retirement Home and serves as the Corresponding Secretary of the International Reading Association Student Organization.



Marisol Trevino, from Rock Island, Illinois, has finished her Associates Degree from Black Hawk Illinois and will be transferring to Illinois State University in the Fall. Marisol will be pursuing a double major in Business Administration and Spanish. She was selected because of her community service record, which includes assisting Toys for Tots in Davenport by assisting in collecting and wrapping toys for underprivileged children. She also has volunteered with the Mexican Consulate serving as a translator, and volunteers at the registration table at the annual Viva Quad Cities Fiesta event. This summer, she is participating in Learning to Lead, a summer leadership development institute by Western Illinois University and she is also a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.



Jessica Vasquez is a Junior at the University of California majoring in Ethnic Studies. She is very active in her community and was selected because of her service. Jessica is an Early Academic Outreach Program Outreach Coordinator at Tennyson High School, and a youth organizer for TOGIL, which implements leadership training for students at Berkeley High School. She serves as Co-Chair of MEXA at Berkeley, and takes part in various other volunteer projects throughout her community.



Stephanie Wasserman-Soler from Coral Gables, Florida is a Senior attending the University of Miami majoring in Psychology. Stephanie was selected because of her extensive community service record, which includes working as a camp counselor, visiting nursing home residents, and peer advising for University of Miami students majoring in Psychology. She is President of Psi Chi (Psychology Honor Society) and is a member of the National Society for Collegiate Scholars and Phi Beta Kappa.