Alex Brody is a student at Georgetown College in Kentucky where he is pursuing a degree in athletic training. Alex is extremely proud of his Puerto Rican heritage on his father’s side, particularly the strong family values that have become a cornerstone of his family interactions. He has incorporated many of these values into his own daily life, providing leadership both as a resident assistant and at college retreats, while also leading weekly services at a homeless shelter in Kentucky. He is an avid soccer player and musician, and has worked as an intern at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports in Florida.
Stefan Orduña-Momcilovic is a recent graduate of the McKinley Classical Leadership Academy, where he was valedictorian and a member of the National Honor Society. He will be attending Washington University in St. Louis where he intends to pursue a degree in economics and international business, while eventually becoming involved in international law. He hopes to use his degrees and experiences to solve trade disputes and increase business ties between nations, thereby improving diplomatic relations across the globe. He is an avid tennis player and a travel enthusiast. His mother is from Bosnia and his father is from Mexico, which means he is proficient in both Serbo-Croatian and Spanish.
Paola Rodriguez is a recent graduate of Fort Zumwalt West High School. She will be attending the University of Missouri in Columbia where she plans on pursuing degrees in Political Science and Journalism. Originally born in Puerto Rico and proud of her roots, Paola has spent the majority of her life in the Midwest, a region she is also proud to call home. She has been active throughout her high school career: volunteering with various organizations in the greater St. Louis area, writing and editing for her school newspaper and being a member of her school marching band.
Brandon Vazquez is a recent graduate of Lutheran High School of St. Charles County. He will be attending DePauw University in Indiana where he hopes to study violin performance and chemistry. With both of his parents being from Mexico, Brandon is extremely proud of his Mexican heritage. At age 11 he joined his father’s mariachi band, and ever since he has seen music as a great bridge between cultures, performing with the band at local hispanic events or fundraisers. He even hopes to start a mariachi band at DePauw, where he will be able to continue to spread awareness about Latin culture.
Estefania Cruz Casillo is a recent graduate of Francis Howell North High School. She will be attending the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where she is enrolled in the College of Science and Engineering. Originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico, Estefania has become an active member in her both her school community and the greater St. Louis region. She has participated in engineering institutes and internships at Wash U and Boeing, was a member of the National Honor Society for three years and is a classical fencer.
Juan Pérez-Ortiz is studying Physical Education and Health at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Originally from Puerto Rico, Juan is extremely passionate about his field of study, and has given extra thought to his role as an educator and how he can impact the lives of his students. He believes strongly that every student is entitled to a safe and positive environment, and sees great value in special education programs in schools. He is a member the the Missouri Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, an organization he represented as a Missouri delegate at the SHAPE America National Convention in Nashville.
Michael Pichardo is studying Systems Engineering and Finance at Washington University in St. Louis. Both of Michael’s parents emigrated from Cuba, and Michael has grown up with a strong understanding of what it means to work hard and support a family. Now that he is older, Michael recognizes the importance of giving back to both his family and the community. At Wash U he co-founded a chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and his group goes out of their way to give back to the St. Louis community through resume workshops and recruitment events. His other interests and passions include soccer, basketball and Latin music.
Yamilka Jimenez is from Puerto Rico and recently graduated from Liberty High School. She is going to Central Missouri University in Springfield, MO. She is planning to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design.