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Editors: Blánca Vazquez & Teresa Santiago
Typography & Design: Blánca Vazquez

ASPIRA Of New York, Inc

The turbulent 1960’s brought to life the ideas, dreams and goals of the ASPIRA movement. The history of ASPIRA, however, really began much earlier. One could trace the roots of ASPIRA’s mission to the first migrants making the long journey to the United States from Puerto Rico, coming to America to work, to continue their education, or to escape political and economic oppression. These migrants brought with them not only their dreams and ambitions, but also a strong identity with their cultural heritage. It is this sense of identity that has given strength to Puerto Rican communities, and has been the backbone of support for the ASPIRA movement through the years.

In 1961, Dr. Antonia Pantoja, a visionary Puerto Rican social worker, called together a small group of concerned Puerto Rican educators and professionals to try to do something about what had become a devastating high drop-out rate for Puerto Rican youth. They created an organization to work with youth which, in a very short time, began to have a major impact upon thousands of Puerto Rican students: ASPIRA was born.

Dr. Pantoja and her associates communicated to the students their deep conviction that they could and would succeed if they set their goals high and dedicated themselves to the pursuit of educational excellence. They provided leadership development training that instilled an ethic of community service and fostered pride in their Puerto Rican cultural heritage. ASPIRA youth counselors, working with students in high school ASPIRA Leadership Development Clubs, provided college and career counseling, financial aid and scholarship information, and a training ground for leadership in the citywide ASPIRA Club Federation.

Today, ASPIRA of New York provides leadership development and educational programs to thousands of Puerto Rican and other Latino youth in high schools and middle schools throughout New York City. ASPIRA continues to stress the importance of education, community service and cultural awareness but in conditions more difficult than those faced by the first generations of "aspirantes."


Bilingual education was the key issue in the early seventies. In 1972, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF) filed a suit in the United States District Court against the Board of Education of the City of New York on behalf of fifteen school children and their parents, ASPIRA of New York, Inc., ASPIRA of America, Inc., and other organizations. The suit resulted in court mandated bilingual education programs in the school system through the ASPIRA Consent Decree.


In 1987, Puerto Rican and Latino students comprised 33% of the entire student population in New York City, yet not one of the members of the Board of Education was Latino. ASPIRA, along with Puerto Rican/Latino Roundtable, the Association of Puerto Rican Executive Directors, and other community organizations. spearheaded a campaign for Latino representation of the Board of Education. They strongly believed that the interest of Puerto Rican and Latino children were not being addressed. The campaign resulted in the eventual appointment of two Puerto Ricans to the Board of Education, Dr. Luis O. Reyes and Ninfa Segarra, Esq.


In 1991, ASPIRA of New York students became youth advocates at the "Somos Uno" conference. For six months they met and discussed issues that affect Latino youth today. They conducted mini-conferences and prepared a legislative agenda for Latino youth which outlined their pressing issues. The Youth Agenda was presented by the Aspirantes to the Legislators during the conference. This youth legislative process continues today.

ASPIRA of New York, Inc.
470 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 564-6880

Celebrando Lo Mejor de la Comunidad

Exceptional Puerto Rican Youth

Since its inception, Comité Noviembre has placed special focus on educational excellence as the key to the future. This year, three young people are being highlighted for their leadership and commitment to their community.

Carmen Millet

Carmen Millet was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, and raised in the Bronx. She is a very determined young woman who demonstrates strong leadership potential and outstanding insight into the challenges facing New York City youth. Carmen has utilized the ASPIRA Leadership Club at DeWitt Clinton High School as a vehicle to address community issues. A senior, Carmen is Vice President of the ASPIRA Leadership Club. She has been instrumental in facilitating Community Action Projects for the ASPIRA club, including feeding the homeless; providing homework help at The Cove, an after school tutorial program for kindergarden through 7th graders, in the Bronx; offering companionship for the elderly at St. Patrick’s Nursing Home; and participating in the clean-up and beautification of Van Courtland Park . Carmen aspires to teach elementary education and is pursuing admission to Columbia University.

José Cornier

José Cornier is a senior at Stuyvestant High School. He maintains high academic and personal standards for himself as well as a commitment to ASPIRA and the Puerto Rican community. As the student elected President of the ASPIRA Leadership Club at Stuyvesant High School, José is clear that service to the community is key. Via the ASPIRA Leadership Club, José actively participated and coordinated the Cultural Event Presentations. At this event, students and teachers were able to sample the various foods of Latin America and its rich history and culture. In addition, José has addressed homelessness and hunger by volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Attending one of New York City’s top competitive high schools located in Manhattan, José always remembers his roots in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and his parents. José wants to attend Boston University or Tulane University in New Orleans and pursue a career in architecture and business.

Jimmy Ruiz

Jimmy Ruiz is a young scholar and dancer, whose intellectual curiosity, and eagerness to explore new areas of knowledge set him apart from his peers. He is resourceful, dedicated to learning and has high aspirations for his future. He displays excellent leadership skills and maturity, and is admired and respected by his peers.

For the past three years, Jimmy Ruiz has participated in the Einstein Enrichment Program/STEP (EEP), a highly selective state funded enrichment program housed at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which serves academically advanced high school students who aspire toward education and career paths in medicine, health and science. Jimmy’s accomplishments have been manifold at EEP. This summer he served as an intern at a Chemistry lab at Weiler Hospital and at the AIDS Center at Montefiore Medical Center. He received superb evaluations from all the physicians with whom he worked and has earned the highest grades in academic classes in English and sciences. In addition to his academic achievements, Jimmy has displayed a high degree of social awareness. He has participated fully in all of Jacobi Medical Center’s volunteer projects, including their Pediatric Unit’s winter holiday program.

Jimmy has distinguished himself among his peers with a commitment to excellence. As a member of Side Street Kids, he performs community service, maintains high academic standards and volunteers at the Academy, in addition to representing the Side Street Kids at dance venues. In addition, he serves as a mentor to a younger child in their Kid Brother/Kid Sister program. As a mentor, Jimmy provided academic assistance, moral support and supplemental dance instruction to several members of the organization. On or off the dance floor, Jimmy has a successful future ahead of him. His academic achievement, solid social concerns and openness to learning will serve him and his community well in the future.

Comité Noviembre Scholarship Program

Since its inception, Comité Noviembre has placed special focus on educational excellence as the key to the future of the Puerto Rican community. To this end, at its first gala dinner in 1996, Comité Noviembre announced that it would create a scholarship awards program in celebration of its tenth anniversary. This year, the Comité Noviembre scholarship program will award thirty $1,000 scholarships to exceptional Puerto Rican youth. The proceeds from the Comité Noviembre Annual Gala supports the scholarship program.

To be eligible for a Comité Noviembre Scholarship, applicants must be of Puerto Rican descent; have community service experience and extracurricular activity; be enrolled in an accredited college or university by the fall of each year and have a B average or better. The application process includes: an application form, a written essay, two letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, a short biographical sketch and a personal interview for finalists.

Comité Noviembre selected leaders from various sectors in the community who have demonstrated genuine interest in the educational excellence of our youth to serve on its selection committee. The members are: Lourdes R. Torres, director of development, Eugenio María de Hostos Community College; Lorraine Cortes Vazquez, president, Hispanic Federation of New York City, Inc.; Debbie Medina, vice president and director of ethnic publications and sales, New York Daily News; María Rodriguez, MSW, educator; Jane Bello, youth advocate; Blanca Vázquez, MS Ed, MS Journalism; Nydia Novoa Sancho, retired educator; Myrna Santiago, vice president, Office of the Comptroller; Melba Olmeda, director of career development, Bronx Community College; Magda Yrizarry, vice president, Verizon; Teresa Santiago, Chairperson, Comité Noviembre; Rafael Toro, director of public relations, Goya Foods, Inc.; Nereida Andino, vice president, Chase Manhattan Bank; and Edwin Lopez, Business Representative, Local Union 3.

To receive a copy of the Comité Noviembre Scholarship application form and guidelines, please call Lourdes R. Torres, co-chair of the Comité Noviembre Scholarship Award Selection Committee at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College, (718) 518-4150.

Comité Noviembre Scholarship Recipients for 2000

Emily E. Acevedo, Le Moyne College

Paulette Jane Alston, Aquinas High School

Arleny Alvarez, SUNY in Albany

Shamari Aponte, Marymount College

Taína Borrero, Baruch College Campus High School

Elizabeth M. Castro, August Martin HS

Myra Davila, Monsignor Scanlon HS

Margarita De Jesus, Monsignor Scanlon HS

Michael Fuentes, Xaverian HS

Elizabeth McWilliams Hernandez, Bard College

Frances Illo, SUNY Geneseo

Johan Marie Lopez, Suffolk Community College

Ramon Fernando Martinez, Iona College

Jennifer Melendez, Sonderling HS

Stephanie Mendez, Baruch College Campus HS

Jessica Mercado, John F. Kennedy HS

Janelle L. Muniz, John Jay University

Natalia Ortiz, Baruch College Campus HS

Amber Tatiana Peterson, Bronx Leadership Academy

W. Julian Gerena Quiñones, University of Hartford

Mayrlin Yoiset Rivera, Stonybrook University

Trinity Rivera, Pace University

Evelyn Rodriguez, Cornell University

Irene Rodriguez, Manhattan Center Science Math

Jose Sanchez, Jr., Grover Cleveland HS

Michael Anthony Sanchez, Evangel University

Christina Marie Santiago, St. Joseph’s College

Angel O. Torres, John F. Kennedy HS

Lynelle Torres, Fordham University

John Velazquez, SUNY at Oswego

Eugenio María de Hostos
Community College

Eugenio María de Hostos Community College was created by an act of the Board of Higher Education on April 22, 1968, thus satisfying the demands of Puerto Rican and other Hispanic leaders who urged the establishment of a college to serve the needs of the South Bronx. In September of 1970, the College admitted a charter class of 623 at the site of a former tire factory at 475 Grand Concourse. Enrollment grew rapidly to more than 2,000 students by June of 1974. In the same years, the State Legislature acted to ease an increasing space shortage by passing a special bill to acquire the "500 Building" across from the original site. Also, in the same year, Hostos was granted full and unconditional accreditation following a highly favorable evaluation by the Middle States Association.

The fiscal crisis of the mid-1970’s resulted in an effort to merge Hostos with another institution as a cost-saving measure. This effort was rebuffed by strong College and community opposition which led the State Legislature to include a guarantee of Hostos’ existence in the Landes Higher Education Act passed on June 9, 1976. Since the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, enrollment at Hostos has grown steadily. To meet this strong interest in the College, the new campus has six buildings, three of which have been specially designed to meet the College’s needs. Hostos can boast about its classrooms in science, math, writing, and computer labs; excellent physical education facilities; and new theaters.

The College is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. The Allied Health programs are accredited by the appropriate agencies, including the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the New York Department of Health. Of the faculty, 49% hold doctorates and 38% have master’s degrees. The student population is diverse with nearly all cultures represented, the highest concentration coming from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Central and South America. Financial assistance is provided to all eligible students and nearly 99 percent receive some form of Federal or State aid.

The College’s mission is that of providing "educational opportunities leading to socio-economic mobility for first and second generation Hispanics, African Americans, and other residents of New York City who have encountered significant barriers to higher education."

Hostos Community College
The City University of New York

500 Grand Concourse
Bronx, New York 10451
(718) 518–4444

Hostos Center for Arts and Culture
450 Grand Concourse
Bronx, New York 10451
(718) 518–6700

Puerto Rican
Legal Defense and Education Fund

Juan A. Figueroa, Esq., President and Legal Counsel
Carlos G. Ortiz, Esq., Chair of the Board


The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), a national civil rights organization, exists to ensure that every Puerto Rican and other Latino is guaranteed the opportunity to succeed. Through policy analysis, advocacy, litigation, and providing educational services, PRLDEF strives to secure and protect the political, economic, social and legal rights of our community. PRLDEF has taken a high profile role in a number of important community issues such as supporting President Clinton’s clemency offer to the Puerto Rican political prisoners; working with Dominican and Mexican immigrant organizations and leaders in the Badillo Must Resign! Campaign; joining with others in raising concerns about the Naval bombing exercises on the island of Vieques; being a leader in the national Latino "brownout" of the television networks; the development of a Puerto Rican Racial Justice Project, and many other issues.

Sara Rios, Esq., Director of Litigation

Since its inception in 1972, PRLDEF has initiated hundreds of cases to combat discrimination in significant areas such as education, housing, employment, voting and language rights. PRLDEF has successfully argued landmark cases, including several before the United States Supreme Court. Recent cases include the defense of remediation programs in the senior colleges of the City University of New York; the protection of community resources from privatization by the City of New York such as CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center in the Lower East Side and the Community Gardens citywide; the defense of the language rights of Latino workers; fair access for Latinos to public housing in the Williamsburg and Seward Park projects; and the continuing defense of bilingual education through the monitoring of the ASPIRA Consent Decree with the New York public schools.

Angelo Falcón, Senior Policy Executive and Director
PRLDEF Institute for Puerto Rican Policy

Our new PRLDEF Institute for Puerto Rican Policy (IPR Division) compliments PRLDEF’s litigation and advocacy efforts with research, community organizing, legislative advocacy and media strategies. Current initiatives include the Latino Economic and Welfare Policy Project, the Census 2000 Project, the Latino Nonprofit Study, and media advocacy through our close collaboration with the New York chapter of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. The IPR Division publishes the quarterly newsletter Political Social, the IPR Datanotes series, IPR Policy Briefs and the NHMC New York Media Notes newsletter.

Educational Services
Ileana Infante, Education Program Administrator

PRLDEF’s Education Program aims to ensure that Latinos and other students of color attain complete and equal access to professional education, particularly in the field of law. We provide thousands of students with admission information, workshops, prep courses, scholarships and networks to broaden access to professional career opportunities. This year we are holding PRLDEF’s Law Day at Pace University Law School in White Plains to expose undergraduates to law school opportunities; are holding a series of LSAT preparatory workshops; and are working with the Puerto Rican Bar Association in the implementation of our Legal Mentor/Mentee Program, matching students with attorneys.

Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund
99 Hudson Street, 14th floor
New York, New York 10013
Phone: (212) 219-3360, (800) 328-2322
FAX (212) 431-4276
E-mail: PRLDEF@aol.com

Table Of Contents

Message On Behalf Of Comité Noviembre 2000
Comité Noviembre - Fifth Annual Gala
Gala Foto Album (PuertoRicans.Com)
History And Mission
About The Poster
About The Artist

Comité Noviembre 2000 Spokesperson Dave Valentín
Celebrities Come Out For Comité Noviembre

Celebrando Lo Mejor De Nuestra Comunidad
ASPIRA Of New York, Inc
Exceptional Puerto Rican Youth
Comité Noviembre Scholarship Program
Eugenio María De Hostos Community College
Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

Taíno: Ancient Voyagers Of The Caribbean
El Museo Del Barrio
New Boricua Books

National Congress For Puerto Rican Rights
History Revealed: FBI Releases Files On Independence Movement
Las Carpetas: The Book
Institute For The Puerto Rican / Hispanic Elderly
Day Of Community Service And Social Responsibility

Vieques And The U.S. Military: The Struggle Continues
Intergenerational Message From Vieques

In Memoriam Adelfa - Vera Puerto Rican Nacionalista
In Memoriam - Paul Ramos Health Care Advocate

Comité Noviembre De New Jersey, Inc
New Jersey 2000 Honorees

Poster 2000
Poster 1992
Comité Noviembre - 1999

Copyright ©Comité Noviembre 2000 / Reprinted With Permission


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Copyright © 1999-2002 / Talí Lamourt-NYBoricua / All Rights Reserved / Updated: November 15, 2003