September 2, 2008

Hispanic Scholarship Fund to Induct Five Exemplary Latinos Into Its Prestigious Alumni Hall of Fame

WASHINGTON, Sept. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Five extraordinary Latinos will be inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Alumni Hall of Fame at its seventh annual gala September 17, 2008 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. They will join a select group of Latino professionals who have been recognized for their personal achievements, contributions and service to America, including former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza and Time Warner Vice President Lisa Quiroz.

This year's inductees include an educator whose work goes beyond the classroom; a leader in education, community involvement and philanthropy; a Cuban immigrant who became President & CEO of a leading telecommunications company; a recognized researcher in drug safety; and an acclaimed pianist who performs and composes Latin Classical music.

HSF, the nation's preeminent organization supporting Latino higher education, aims to inspire future generations of Latino college graduates by honoring Latinos who have excelled in their fields. The HSF Alumni Hall of Fame was created in 2002 to honor Hispanics who demonstrate the power of higher education and to highlight how attaining a college degree can change individual lives and society as a whole for the better. The honorees' lifetime challenges and subsequent accomplishments illustrate the possibilities unleashed through higher education and personify the mission and values of HSF.

Each year, HSF selects four outstanding HSF alumni who were aided by an HSF scholarship while in college. A fifth individual, while not a former HSF Scholar, is selected for his or her success and excellence. Awards are given in five categories (translated from Spanish): The Optimist, The Humanitarian, The Victor, The Motivator, and The Rising Star.

This year's awards and respective inductees, representing achievements in the medical, academic, corporate and public policy fields, will go to:

-- The Optimista, Joan Sotero Alvarez, High School Principal, Corpus Christi, TX. As an English teacher, Joan provides his students much more than grammar lessons. He has mentored more than 150 students who were at risk of failing or dropping out. He is teaching his students to care for and respect their community by founding King Productions, an organization that promotes community involvement. The teenagers clean fences and walls marked by graffiti, as well as learn and perform hip-hop at community events. He was awarded the CCISD Teacher of the Year award within the two years of beginning to teach. He is a teacher despite repeatedly failing to meet the Texas state testing scores as a high school student; he persevered and became the first person in his ancestral family to earn a college degree. Proving to his students that an education is possible, he invited them, along with their parents, to his graduation ceremony when he received his master's degree.

-- The Altruista, Luis Ubinas, President of the Ford Foundation, New York, NY. Luis uses his leadership skills and experience to inspire others and to guide the foundation's support for thousands of non-profits working to create opportunities and improve lives in marginalized communities around the globe. Before becoming the ninth president of the Ford Foundation in January 2008, he was a director at McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm where he worked for 18 years. To introduce and cultivate diverse talent, Luis founded McKinsey's Latino recruiting and mentoring group. He has served on the boards of Leadership Education and Development (LEAD), a national organization that provides educational opportunities to low-income African American and Latino high school students, the Bay Area United Way and the Steppingstone Foundation.

-- The Triunfador, Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility. A native of Cuba, Ralph came to the United States by himself at the age of 10. Despite being separated from his family, living in a foreign country and not being familiar with the language or the culture, Ralph was able to earn a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University and an MBA from Northern Illinois University. He also completed the Executive Program at the University of Virginia. In 1974, Ralph began his distinguished career in telecommunications as a Management Assistant with BellSouth (then Southern Bell). He worked his way up to directing all of BellSouth's Telecommunications Network Operations for Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. He then served as President-BellSouth Latin America, with overall responsibility for BellSouth's Central and South American operations in 11 countries. Appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Cingular Wireless in 2004, he led the company through the largest merger in the history of the wireless industry. In late 2007, he was named president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, helping revolutionize the industry with the launch of the iPhone.

-- The Inspirador, Evelyn Rodriguez, Vice President and head of Global Pharmacoepidemology, Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Mountain Lakes, NJ. Evelyn is a recognized leader and researcher in drug safety and the science of pharmacoepidemiology. She has over 34 years' experience in clinical medicine and is board certified in Pediatrics, Public Health and General Preventive Medicine. She also demonstrates leadership, organizational and management skills through studies, publications and presentations at scientific meetings, public hearings and FDA-sponsored advisory committee sessions. For 13 years, she has provided federal service as a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. In 2000, Evelyn received the Arthur Flemming Award for Excellence in Science. She has reached out to Latinos, interested in the medical field, for 15 years as an active participant in the Mentorship Program for Hispanic Medical Students with the International College of Physicians and Surgeons. Evelyn has raised three children, who are currently college students despite disabilities they have encountered.

-- The Brillante, Gabriela Lena Frank, Composer and Pianist in Latin Classical Music, Berkeley, CA. Gabriela is a world-renowned pianist and composer. As one of the few Latina composers in a male dominated field, Gabriela regularly incorporates Latin American art, poetry, and folk music into western classical forms that reflect her Peruvian- Jewish-Chinese heritage. She shares her love of music with the community as a performer and teacher, traveling throughout the United States and Latin America. Born with a moderate-to-profound neurosensory hearing loss that was not detected until she was in kindergarten, Gabriela was recently recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Letters and hailed as representing "the next generation of American composers."

"We are proud to honor these inductees because they personify the mission and values of HSF," said Frank D. Alvarez, HSF President & CEO. "They are an inspiration to aspiring Latinos everywhere. Their success stories are testimony to the impact of higher education and the tremendous difference it makes in a life."

Alvarez said the inductees serve as positive role models for Latino students, which is a trademark of previous HSF Alumni Hall of Fame honorees. "Annually, the inspiring stories of HSF's inductees put a face on our work and demonstrate the power of higher education," he said.

About the Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Founded in 1975 as a not-for-profit, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) is the nation's preeminent Latino scholarship organization, providing the Latino community more college scholarships and educational outreach support than any other organization in the country. During the 2007-2008 academic year, HSF awarded nearly 4,100 scholarships exceeding $26.8 million. In its 33-year history, HSF has awarded in excess of 86,000 scholarships, worth more than $247 million, to Latinos attending nearly 2,000 colleges and universities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For more information about HSF, please visit:

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

CONTACT: Chino Chapa, +1-415-808-2350, [email protected], or Olvia Angulo,+1-415-808-2351, [email protected], both of Hispanic Scholarship Fund

Web site: