We have been honored to have many talented Hispanic role models participate in our program.

They have shared their stories and provided great advice to our students.

They are an inspiration!

Justice Sonia Sotomayor - Supreme Court

Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a true role model for the national Hispanic community. Her incredible life story of growing up in the Bronx, New York, to becoming the first Hispanic, and third female justice voted to the Supreme Court, is a testament to the power of perseverance, and the importance of a great education.  Sotomayor was raised by her mother after her father passed away when she was only 9 years old. From a very young age she was determined to become a judge, and was influenced by the Nancy Drew detective series. She graduated from Princeton University summa cum laude, and went on to the Yale Law School. For over 20 years, she has worked as a judge at nearly all levels. She continues to fight for diversity and rights of the Latino community, and remains very close to her mother and family.

Manny Gonzalez, Jeanette Acosta and Diana Zarzuelo 

White House Interns


Ms. Acosta, Ms. Zarzuelo and Mr. Gonzalez each share two things in common: they are working together in the White House Domestic Policy Council during the summer of 2011, and they are all passionate about education especially within the Latino community. Ms. Acosta, originally from California, has worked extensively with non-profits and other organizations and is focusing on the rights and education of the children of migrants. Ms. Zarzuelo started an after-school program for Latino families in her hometown in Texas, and focuses on improving the education system through a psychological lens. Both Ms. Acosta and Ms. Zarzuelo are completing their graduate school studies at the Harvard Kennedy School, and are on the staff of the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. Mr. Gonzalez, also from Texas, is completing his PhD in Higher Administration Education at the University of Texas at Austin, and is the first in his family to go to college.  He mentors high school and college students to provide the same encouragement and support he received as a youth.


Jose Barahona - Pollo Campero Restaurants

Jose Barahona is a successful entrepreneur (businessman) who is most well known for his popular chicken restaurants, Pollo Campero. He brought Pollo Campero to the United States and now owns 7 restaurants in Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. Born on a farm in El Salvador and one of 12 children, Sr. Barahona immigrated to the United States when he was 23 years old and worked at Suburban and Sibley Hospitals here in Washington DC area, where he met his wife. He has started and runs many businesses, and is continuously coming up with new ideas.  He returns frequently to El Salvador and supports many schools, charities, and farms there.



Emilio Garcia - Ruiz - The Washington Post

Mr. Garcia-Ruiz is a journalist for the local award-winning newspaper The Washington Post, and has built up an impressive career over his 25 years at The Post where he is widely recognized for his excellent leadership and reporting.  Mr. Garcia-Ruiz has been the Sports Editor, the Local News Editor, and the Copy/Night Editor, and is currently the Editor of Strategic Projects where he focuses on the Post's digital technologies and online stories. Mr. Garcia-Ruiz has written and worked for newspapers since he was a college student at the University of Maryland.

Dr. G. Vike Vicente - Eye Doctors of Washington

Dr. Vicente is one of the best and most respected doctors in the Washington DC area, as voted by his colleagues and the Washingtonian magazine. Dr. Vicente is a pediatric ophthalmologist (an eye-doctor for children) who specializes in strabismus and pediatric eye surgery. Dr. Vicente lived in various countries across South America and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. He has studied at numerous universities and graduated with honors, and in addition completed a fellowship at the Harvard-Boston Children's Hospital before joining the Eye Doctors of Washington, where he currently works.


Rodolfo Guzman - Jose Andres Think Food Group

Rodolfo Guzman is the Head Chef of the Jaleo restaurant in Washington, DC, and is one of the most well respected chefs in the area. Born in Bolivia, Mr. Guzman immigrated to the United States at the age of 23, and focused on becoming a chef. Often juggling two jobs at once, Mr. Guzman worked his way up the restaurant industry. In 1999 he began working with Jose Andres, his mentor, business partner, and good friend, and in 2001 was appointed Head Chef of Jaleo. He aspires to open his own restaurant someday.

Martha Diaz - Hip-Hop Association

Martha Diaz is the founder and president of the Hip-Hop Association, whose mission is to spread social justice, education, and media reform, while keeping the true spirit of Hip-Hop alive for future generations.  In addition, Ms. Diaz has created an international Hip-Hop film festival, the Hip-Hop Education Initiative, and has recently published her own book, Fresh, Bold, and So Def: Women in Hip-Hop Changing the Game.  Ms. Diaz is also a mother, community organizer, educator and social entrepreneur.  

Laura Quiroga - GALA Hispanic Theatre

Laura Quiroga has worked for GALA Hispanic Theater for over ten years where she is currently the Artistic Director for the Children's Theater (GALita).  Besides having been an assistant director and a stage manager, Ms. Quiroga is also a professional dancer and has performed locally and internationally.  In 2003 she received the Office Award from the League of Washington Theaters for her unwavering dedication to GALA Theater.

Maruja Ubelaker - Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool

Mrs. Maruja Ubelaker is a well-respected art teacher at the Arlington Unitarian Cooperative Preschool, where she has taught for almost 20 years. Mrs. Ubelaker was born and raised in Ecuador, and studied archaeology before deciding to fully dedicate herself to education. She started teaching kindergarten in Ecuador, and when she moved to the United States with her husband, she received her BA from Marymount University in Virginia.

Paula Alvano - The Nature Conservancy

Mrs. Alvano is a financial analyst under the grants services network at the Nature Conservancy, the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect important lands and waters. Mrs. Alvano was born in Guatemala, raised in Honduras, and studied at the University of the Americas in Mexico. She worked in Washington DC and Maryland, including at the Marriott International Corporate Headquarters in Bethesda before joining the Nature Conservancy in 2005.