Being or becoming a role model does not happen overnight. Like anything, it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and motivation to keep the momentum going. Great leaders start with the youth that are inspired by others in some way to achieve great things and having programs that can jumpstart it, makes this possible. One such program is the Hispanic Role Model Program where founder and President, Dr. Ivonne Diaz-Claisse was able to sit down with Latin Trends to talk more about this program.
LatinTrends (LT): What is your role within the Hispanic Role Model Program?
Ivonne Diaz-Claisse (IDC): I am the President and CEO of the non-profit organization HISPA, which stands for Hispanics Inspiring Students’ Performance and Achievement. As our name suggests, we are dedicated to contributing to America’s future by inspiring Latino students’ academic success. With our HISPA Role Model Program, we have built a network of Latino professionals who serve as active Role Models in the classrooms of the communities where they live and work.
LT: Why was the Hispanic Role Model Program started and how long has the program been running?
IDC: The official program started in 2008 as a way for professionals to give back to the community and the goal at the time was to get 100 volunteers in 100 hours, which was reached. We just recently had our 5th kick-off event in New York City in September 2013.
LT: Are there certain requirements for becoming a role model?
IDC: Role models join us through our partnerships with Employee Resource Groups, Alumni Networks and Professional Associations. The requirements to become a role model are professional development, have a high level of employment, academic achievement and involvement with government. It is about mobilizing people that can educate and tell their professional story with the youth.
LT: In what states can prospects find your program and what youth group does the program target?
IDC: Our program targets students that are in middle school and we are located in New Jersey, San Antonio, Texas, and most recently, New York (New York City). Overall there are about 1,000 registered volunteers.
LT: Why are you extending the program to New York? Are you targeting any specific areas?
IDC: Approximately 40% of students in the NYC Public School system are of Hispanic background so the need for Hispanic role models is great. Many of our role models are in STEM careers so they will share their educational and professional stories in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. As funding allows and is secured, we will be expanding to more areas.
To find out more information about the program check out HISPA.