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16th Annual NY Youth Awards @ Viacom HQ!

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

High-Achieving Youth Promoted as Role Models, Connected to Large National Network and Receive Educational Grants

NEW YORK, NY – The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) and its sponsors honored 21 Latino high school seniors from the Houston region for their accomplishments in the classroom, community and their focus on various categories during the 16th Annual New York Regional Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards on December 16 at Viacom Headquarters. HHF also promoted the young leaders as role models for their peers through social media as they move forward to college and provide them with grants, which can be used for their education or social entrepreneurship to support their leadership for years to come.  Past Youth Awardees joined elected officials, educators, community and business leaders, and families in celebration of the students’ achievement. After the Regional Youth Awards Ceremonies in 10 markets, one recipient was chosen in each of the categories to attend the National Youth Awards in San Juan, Puerto Rico in January 2015 with celebrities.  (Recipients’ average GPA is over a 3.5). The Youth Awards Ceremony took place at Viacom Headquarters – The Lodge 7th Floor – 1515 Broadway New York, NY 10036 (reception at 4pm and ceremony at 5pm).

  • Business & Entrepreneurship – sponsored by BBVA Compass

◦                     Gold: Joselyn Matamoros, Susan E. Wagner High School

◦                     Silver: Jailene Villaroel, Susan E. Wagner High School

◦                     Bronze: Samantha Somple, Burr & Burton Academy

  • Community Service – sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive Company

◦                     Gold: Keyla Ynoa, Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science

◦                     Silver: Nicole Mejia, Cab Calloway School of the Art

◦                     Bronze: Jackie Nicholson, Gardner High School

  • Education – sponsored by Southwest Airlines

◦                     Gold: Daniel Brioso, West Hempstead High School

◦                     Silver: Paola Cespedes, Walt Whitman High School

◦                     Bronze: Lisa Nealis, Kings park High School

  • Engineering & Mathematics – sponsored by ExxonMobil

◦                     Gold: Sophia Kioulaphides, The Bronx High School of Science

◦                     Silver: Dominick Peluso, Ramapo Senior High School

◦                     Bronze: Jennefer Montaleza, Benjamin N. Cardozo

  • Healthcare & Science – sponsored by CVS Health

◦                     Gold: Keli Almonte, Hillcrest High School

◦                     Silver: Diana Paneque, Union City High School

◦                     Bronze: Julia Harrer, Bishop Shanahan High School

  • Innovation & Technology – sponsored by Entertainment Software Association

◦                     Gold: Lilia Escobedo, Ithaca High School

◦                     Silver: Kristal Castro, Hutchinson Central Technical High School

◦                     Bronze: Stephanie Perez, Cornwall Central High School

  • Sports & Fitness – sponsored by NASCAR

◦                     Gold: Juan Guzman, Susan E. Wagner High School

◦                     Silver: Thomas Damiano, Newark Academy

◦                     Bronze: Jessica Torres, Morristown High School


“The Hispanic Heritage Foundation is looking forward to another group of young leaders from the Dallas area that we can count on for the future and right now,” said Antonio Tijerino, President and CEO of HHF.  “We want don’t want to simply honor the outstanding students but more importantly put them in a position from which to lead.  Our model is to support innovative leaders to impact thousands of others in industries and fields which are priorities for America’s workforce. And we are grateful to our dedicated sponsors who also realize the importance of tapping a resource like our Latino youth to move not just our community but America forward.”

After receiving the awards, the students are funneled into HHF’s LOFT (Latinos On Fast Track) award-winning, leadership and workforce development program focused on 10 “Tracks” or fields including healthcare, science, technology, engineering, education, public service, entrepreneurship, media and entertainment, finance and Latinas. Tens of thousands of students and young professionals are connected to each other through the LOFT Network;  thousands are prepared through trainings, priority-field-tailored symposia, workshops, and Charlas (online Google hangouts with experts); and hundreds are placed into internships, mentorships, fellowships and full-time positions with Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.  Join and follow LOFT on Facebook and Twitter.

Youth Awards Regional Ceremonies took place in:

Phoenix, Oct. 21, 2014, Arizona State University

Los Angeles, Oct. 22, 2014, University of Southern California

Miami, Oct. 28, 2014, University of Miami

Atlanta, Nov. 18, 2014, Georgia Tech University

Dallas, Nov. 20, 2014, Southern Methodist University

Chicago, Nov. 24, 2014, Loyola University

Houston, Dec. 2, 2014, University of Houston

San Jose, Dec. 4, 2014, Stanford University

Washington, DC, Dec. 9, 2014, Capitol Hill

New York, Dec. 16, 2014, Viacom

National Youth Awards, January 29, 2014, Puerto Rico

Additional partners of the Youth Awards included: UPS, PhRMA, Google, NRCCUA, Direct Auto Insurance, Rebuild the Dream, Qlovi, Foundation, OCI Group, Es Tiempo, and Voto Latino.

About the Hispanic Heritage Foundation

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation – a nonprofit established by the White House in 1987 – inspires, prepares, and connects minority leaders in the classroom, community and workforce to meet America’s priorities in 10 areas of focus.  HHF also promotes cultural pride, accomplishment, and the great promise of the community through public awareness campaigns seen by millions.  HHF is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and the LOFT Institute is housed at Michigan State University (Visit



Santiago Melli-Huber

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