Hispanic Heritage Foundation Presents the 23rd Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards on Capitol Hill to Honor Latino Leaders

Mathematician Richard Tapia and College-Bound Engineering Student Featured Alongside Celebrities and Elected Officials at Star-Studded Event

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) will present the 23rd Annual Hispanic Heritage Awards on Capitol Hill on September 29, 2009, as six Latino leaders in various categories will be celebrated for their achievements in their field and in the community. Included in the program will be mathematician and Professor Richard A. Tapia who will be honored with the Hispanic Heritage Award for Math and Science, and college student Carolina White who is the National Recipient of the Youth Award for Math and Engineering. Both awards are sponsored by ExxonMobil as part of the company’s commitment to advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in the U.S.

“We celebrate the achievements of Dr. Tapia and Ms. White and for being an inspiration to future math and science leaders from the Hispanic community.”

In addition to Dr. Tapia, the 2009 Hispanic Heritage Honorees include:

  • Rock superstars Maná presented with the first “Green” Award
  • Artist Romero Britto presented with the Humanitarian Award
  • Animation Figure Dora the Explorer with the Education Award
  • Boxer Oscar de la Hoya with the Sports Award
  • Singer Olga Tañon with the Arts Award
  • Senator Robert Menendez with the Leadership Award

After the ceremony, the guests will attend the Honorees’ Reception, which will feature a stage production with performances by Olga Tañon, Chichi Peralta, Don Omar, Cristian Castro, and La Quinta Estación. During the reception, Mexican cuisine will be prepared by America’s Top Chef Winner Rick Bayless.

“We are privileged to pay tribute to the 2009 Honorees who will certainly carry on the great tradition of past Honorees,” said HHF Chairman Dr. Pedro Jose Greer, Jr., who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom last month and the Hispanic Heritage Award for Leadership in the nineties. “The Honorees represent the tremendous contributions Latinos make in America and the Youth Awardees the great promise of what’s to come. And America is in great need of more engineers, scientists, mathematicians and educators to move our great country forward. We are grateful to ExxonMobil for their support and vision in that regard.”

Richard Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach. Tapia's current Rice positions are University Professor, Maxfield Oshman Professor in Engineering, Associate Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education.

Tapia was born in Los Angeles to parents who separately emigrated from Mexico as young teenagers in search of educational opportunities for themselves and for future generations. The first in his family to attend college, Tapia went on to receive B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles. Tapia has authored or co-authored two books and more than 100 mathematical research papers and among his many honors, he was the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1996 President Clinton appointed him to the National Science Board, where he served until 2002, and from 2001 to 2004 he chaired the National Research Council's Board on Higher Education and the Workforce. He has received the National Science Foundation's inaugural Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring; the Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the Distinguished Service to the Profession Award from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics; the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Mathematical Society; and the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

“ExxonMobil is honored to continue its support of Latino organizations that recognize the contributions of men and women who are making a difference in the critical fields of math and science,” said Truman Bell, senior program officer, Education and Diversity, at ExxonMobil. "We celebrate the achievements of Dr. Tapia and Ms. White and for being an inspiration to future math and science leaders from the Hispanic community."

Carolina White will be honored with her 2009 National Youth Award for Engineering and Mathematics and will be joined onstage by her fellow Youth Awardees in other categories. She was awarded the Houston Regional Youth Award as a senior at Friendswood High School in Friendswood, TX. She is currently a freshman at Rice University majoring in nanotechnology and electrical engineering.

ExxonMobil created the Engineering and Mathematics Youth Award in 2001 to inspire, encourage and prepare young Latinos for a career in the fields of math and science. Since then, hundreds of high school seniors have been honored and received nearly a million dollars in educational grants. Additionally, the company focuses a significant portion of its philanthropy on initiatives that encourage students, particularly minorities and girls, to take an active interest in math and science, encourage the professional development of highly qualified teachers and promote involvement of women and minorities in these subjects.

The Hispanic Heritage Awards were created in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and the White House to commemorate the creation of Hispanic Heritage Month. The Hispanic Heritage Awards will take place at the Senate Russell Building, Russell Caucus Room, Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill. The event will serve as a culmination of the year-round mission of HHF, which identifies, inspires, prepares and positions Latino leaders in the classroom, community and workforce (visit www.HispanicHeritage.org).


for the Hispanic Heritage Foundation
Kim Quirk, 214-373-1601

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