Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino


2013 Campaign Design Contest Winner

Posted on 05/01/2013 @ 03:32 PM

Ana Maria Villegas Wins 2013 Friends of the American Latino Museum Design Contest

As we conclude our second annual American Latino Museum Campaign Design Contest, we are proud to announce the winner is Ana Maria Villegas, a mother of 2 from Coral Springs, FL!

Ana Maria Villegas

Ana Maria Villegas

The Design Contest gives all 330,000 of our supporters the opportunity to submit a design and showcase their talent. Ana Maria was chosen as one of our top 5 finalists, and after thousands of votes were counted, her design won!

2013 Campaign Design Contest Winning Design

In receiving news of winning the design contest, Villegas, the mother of two who came to the United States from Mexico City almost 2 decades ago stated: “I felt very excited to participate in the design contest and support a national campaign that acknowledges the need to recognize the diverse Latino community for its valuable contributions to our country. I believe this is a great opportunity to encourage unity among cultures and I feel especially privileged and honored that my artwork is able to spread this message and play a part in the building of the American Latino Museum.”

Villegas describes her design as an original pastel painting that portrays “the innocence and excitement of a Latino child being immersed within a new culture integrating Latino and American richness. The feathers represent the indigenous roots, as I found them in Native American and Aztec headdresses. My belief is that unity flows through music and dance as a universal language. This is symbolized by the guitar as well as the yellow folk dress, flowing with endless possibility from the child. The American flag is in the background waving in the same motion.

She will be flown to Washington, D.C. for a special unveiling event, and her design will be part of a national media and outreach campaign. Most importantly, Ana Maria now has a place in the historic effort to create a National American Latino Museum!

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Campaign Design Contest Winner

Posted on 06/14/2012 @ 05:48 PM

Salomé Castro and Luis Fitch worked together to design an image to kick off the 2012 campaign for the American Latino Museum. Their design will be found on posters, t-shirts, and more at its unveiling on July 8th, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

The contest was the first of its kind for the Friends of the American Latino Museum, and it showed the tremendous support for the American Latino Museum campaign. It also revealed the immense talent of the Latino community as we received entries in graphic design, paintings, sketching, and needlework.

Salomé Castro

Salomé studied Fashion Design at Parson's School of Design in New York and obtained a degree in Graphic Design from Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Since then she has been doing freelance design work. Her work eventually led her to accept an internship with Luis Fitch at UNO Branding. As her final project for UNO Branding, Salomé accepted the Friends of the American Latino Museum's challenge and the public decided she had the best design. Her work will set the American Latino Museum campaign apart and lead it down the path toward its creation.

Luis Fitch

Luis Fitch is the founder and creative director for UNO Branding ( UNO Branding is a cross-cultural design agency that tries to work towards promoting brands that connect with Hispanic consumers. His work has been utilized by many companies including Target, Nike, and Best Buy. It is his and the company's belief that to advertise to the people one needs to know the people.

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Today is historic!

By Henry R. Muñoz III on 11/15/2011 @ 11:26 AM

Henry R. Muñoz III, Chairman

Today is historic. The bi-partisan legislation authored by Senator Robert Menendez, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Marco Rubio, moves us closer to the day when the contributions of Latinos to every aspect of American History and Culture are celebrated on our National Mall.

As Chairman of the Commission to study the feasability of a National Museum of the American Latino , indeed as one of the more than Fifty Million United States citizens of Latino Heritage, I want to thank Senator Menendez, Majority Leader Reid,and Senator Rubio for their leadership and belief in the importance of establishing the Smithsonian American Latino Museum, to illumnate the American Story for all.

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American Latino Museum Survey

Posted on 10/18/2011 @ 02:21 PM

We are so grateful for your support of our efforts to build a museum dedicated to the celebration of American Latino heritage on the National Mall.

The American Latino Museum Commission has been submitted its report to Congress and we are now proceeding with additional steps to bring us closer to the realization of this dream.

You can help us get there by answering this short survey. This museum belongs to all Americans and we want everyone to share their opinions about the museum and its mission.

**This survey is no longer available.**

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Salazar endorses Latino museum plan

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 11:00 AM

Ken Salazar, Interior Secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is endorsing a federal commission's call to build a national museum devoted to American Latino art, history and culture next to the Capitol as part of the Smithsonian Institution.

In an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the commission's report Thursday, Salazar said he would urge Congress to approve creation of the museum. He said such a building on the Capitol's grounds would be in keeping with the National Park Service's plan for the National Mall, which calls for overhauling the nearby Capitol reflecting pool as a civic square.

Many contributions of the nation's Latinos, dating back to before the nation's founding, have never been recognized, and they deserve a space on the National Mall among the nation's top cultural attractions, Salazar said.

"My own view is America's strength in the future is dependent upon America being inclusive of all of its people," he said. "In the United States today, we have about 50 million-plus Americans who are of Latino descent."

A copy of the commission's report obtained by the AP said the museum would represent Latinos where their heritage has been absent at the Smithsonian.

"The mall, more than any other public space in our country does indeed tell the story of America, and yet that story is not complete," wrote commission chairman Henry R. Munoz III.

A 1994 Smithsonian report entitled "Willful Neglect" found U.S. Hispanics were the only major contributor to American civilization not permanently recognized at the museum complex.

The Latino museum would join the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian and its planned National Museum of African American History and Culture, slated to open in four years. There has been some hesitance in Congress to add more ethnic museums for fear that they could appeal to segregated audiences.

The commission tried to head off such arguments from the start.

"This is not a museum for Latinos. This is a museum that more fully describes what the American story is," Munoz said in an interview. "The historical myth of the United States begins with 1776 and the Mayflower, totally ignoring the fact that we were here well before then and have been contributors to the development of this country in every single way."

Munoz said he envisions a lively, interactive space with performances and perhaps a plaza that allows programs to spill out onto the Capitol grounds.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Capitol site over others. It would fall outside an area where Congress has banned any new construction on the mall, officials said.

The report lays out a case for retracing 500 years of Latino history with roots in Europe, Africa, Asia and from indigenous people. It notes Spanish explorers were first to land in Florida decades before English settlers founded Jamestown, and they created outposts that eventually led to the founding of San Francisco and Santa Fe, N.M. It details Latinos' contributions to the military, the economy and the arts.

At the same time, many groups want to add museums on the National Mall, including efforts to recognize women's history, gay history and the history of immigration.

"The history of all peoples has got to be told across America," Salazar said, but the Latino museum proposal was a "definitive plan that addresses the history of 1/6 of the population," he said.

"We can't deal with the whole world right now, but I think the time is now to do something like this."

Federal budget constraints could be the biggest hurdle. The commission's report calls for building a $600 million museum with Congress providing half the funds and private donations covering the remainder.

Salazar, one of the highest ranking Hispanics in government, pledged to help raise millions of dollars to privately fund the museum's construction — and, if necessary, more than half the cost. He previously advocated for the project as a U.S. Senator.

President George W. Bush signed legislation establishing the Latino museum commission in 2008, and President Barack Obama, along with congressional leaders, appointed a 23-member commission. It includes Eva Longoria from TV's "Desperate Housewives," producer Emilio Estefan and others for their expertise in museums, fundraising and Latino culture.

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To Illuminate the American Story for All

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 08:33 AM

Henry R. Muñoz III, Chairman

As we prepare to stand before Congress today and respectfully submit our final report on the feasibility of creating a National Museum of the American Latino, to be located on the National Mall in our nation's capital, I would like to take a moment to consider again the questions that we have been pondering and studying since 2009: Should there be a National Museum that reflects the contributions of Latinos to every aspect of American society and culture? Should this proposed museum be part of The Smithsonian, a venerable institution whose mission has always, unwaveringly, been "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge?" The answer is a resounding yes.

Click here now to Download the final report to the President and Congress of the United States titled “To Illuminate the American Story for All”.

For two years we have studied what the museum might look like and researched what Latinos would like to see in such a museum. We applaud the Smithsonian's desire to imagine itself as a place that more fully reflects the diversity and depth of American civilization and values in all its multicultural beauty by joining us in the noble effort. It is our belief, as the report will show, that there must be a living monument that recognizes that Latinos were here well before 1776 and that in this new century, the future is increasingly Latino, more than fifty million people and growing. The Smithsonian Institution American Latino Museum will serve not only as a monument for Latinos and a testament to our important contributions to American history and culture, but also as a 21st Century learning laboratory rooted in the mission that every American should have access to the stories of all Americans.

I would like to thank my fellow members of the National Museum of the American Latino Commission, and especially the thousands of American citizens, in communities across the country, who have worked so ceaselessly, enthusiastically, and tirelessly with us over the last few years. With your continued support our dream of creating The Smithsonian American Latino Museum in Washington, D.C. will soon become a reality.

With much gratitude,

Henry R. Munoz III Chairman

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New American Latino Museum Video

Posted on 05/05/2011 @ 07:54 AM

The Commission has released a new video about the National Museum of the American Latino. Eva Longoria shares the story of the Commission’s hard work over the past year, and chronicles the Commission’s outreach to Latinos across the nation. Before you read the report tomorrow, please share this video with your friends, and let them know why you support the American Latino Museum.

To view this video, you will need to install the Flash Player.

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Rita Moreno - Actress

Posted on 04/28/2011 @ 12:43 PM

Rita Moreno

Rita Moreno is a Puerto Rican singer, dancer and actress. She is the first and only Hispanic person and one of the few performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony and at the time the second Puerto Rican to win an Academy Award.

Moreno was born Rosa Dolores Alverío in Humacao, Puerto Rico, to Rosa María, a seamstress, and Paco Alverío, a farmer. She moved with her mother to New York City at the age of five. She began her first dancing lessons soon after arriving in the United States from a friend of her mother, a Spanish dancer called Paco Cansino, who was the uncle of Rita Hayworth. When she was 11 years old, she lent her voice to Spanish language versions of American films.

She had her first Broadway role — as "Angelina" in Skydrift — by the time she was 13, which caught the attention of Hollywood talent scouts. She appeared in small roles in The Toast of New Orleans and Singin' in the Rain, in which she played Zelda Zanners. In 1956, she had a supporting role in the film version of The King and I as Tuptim.

In 1961, Moreno landed the role of Anita in Robert Wise's and Jerome Robbins' film adaptation of Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's groundbreaking Broadway musical, West Side Story, which was played by Chita Rivera on Broadway. Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for that role. Moreno went on to be the first actress (and the first Hispanic) to win an Emmy (1977), a Grammy (1972), an Oscar (1962) and a Tony (1975).

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Jesse Treviño – Master Artist

Posted on 04/27/2011 @ 03:53 PM

Jesse Trevino

Jesse Treviño was a year into art school on a scholarship at the Art Students League of New York when a letter from Uncle Sam arrived in the mail, informing the then- 19-year-old native of San Antonio's West Side that he would be going to Vietnam.

Two months later, on Feb. 23, 1967, an explosion from a booby trap knocked him face down into a rice paddy. Treviño watched the muddy water turn red as he lay dying. As a medic's morphine began flowing through his veins, the soldier had visions of his mom, 11 brothers and sisters, and the people and places of his neighborhood that he loved so much.

"I started thinking about the guy who sells raspas, and I said to myself, 'I bet I could make a great painting of him,' " Treviño said, "and I started thinking about all the paintings that I had done as a kid and still wanted to do. Here I was in the middle of this rice field, and I was thinking as an artist."

Treviño returned to San Antonio, but soon began to lose movement in his right arm and hand. Two years later, his arm had to be amputated because of extensive nerve damage.

"I had to learn to use my left hand," he said. "Having been in New York and studying art on a scholarship and then getting to the point where I couldn't even write my name, it was hard. I felt disconnected from what I used to do." After receiving a bachelor's degree at Our Lady of the Lake University, Treviño enrolled in UTSA's graduate art program.

Today, Treviño, 63, is among the university's list of distinguished alumni. His work is well known and revered throughout the city, notably Spirit of Healing, a ceramic tile mural of a guardian angel and child on the façade of Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital, as well as the towering sculpture Our Lady of Guadalupe Veladora at the Guadalupe Theater in his neighborhood.

Two of his other works— Mis Hermanos and Tienda de Elizondo—are part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian's American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

"It means everything to me," the artist said. "Ever since I was a kid, I knew what museums were, and it was the ultimate place to have your works shown if you were an artist."

Arturo Almeida, art specialist and curator for the UTSA Art Collection, said Treviño is one of the most admired artists around the Alamo City. "His work profoundly captures all the grace and poetry of his community," he said.

Treviño recently collaborated with architect Gabriel Velasquez on the design of a 130-foot steel Hispanic Veterans Memorial sculpture to be erected in the middle of Lake Elmendorf on the West Side. The work, which is expected to be completed in about a year and a half, will feature gigantic dog tags representing various branches of the military.

"It will be a monument to honor all veterans, alive or dead. It's a structure, too, that people wouldn't expect to see on the West Side, and it's something people will come to see from all around the country," Treviño said. Treviño once thought he had to travel to New York or California to find his place in the world. Now, he just looks around the backyard of his home/studio on Guadalupe Street on his beloved West Side.

There's a 5,000-pound, steel-and-concrete, two-sided bench commemorating former City Councilman Enrique Barrera that's still in the works. Next to it is a sculpture of the Virgen de Guadalupe and a wall fountain with the soothing sound of trickling water, surrounded by trees, plants and artwork.

By Rudy Arispe

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Jim Plunkett, Football Champion

Posted on 04/25/2011 @ 06:06 PM

Jim Plunkett

James William "Jim" Plunkett (born December 5, 1947 in San Jose, California) is a former American football quarterback who played college football for Stanford University, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and professionally for three National Football League teams: the New England Patriots, San Francisco 49ers and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. He led the Raiders to two Super Bowl victories (XV and XVIII). He is the only eligible quarterback to start (and win) two Super Bowls without being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Plunkett was born to Mexican American parents with an Irish-German great-grandfather on his paternal side. Plunkett's father was a news vendor afflicted with progressive blindness, who had to support his blind wife along with their three children. In an effort to aid the family's financial situation, Plunkett worked a series of odd jobs while growing up, including serving as a gas station attendant, grocery store clerk and as a laborer on construction sites. In an acknowledgement of his Mexican roots, Plunkett chose the fictional character of Zorro as his hero.

Jim went to William C. Overfelt High School in the 9th and 10th grades and then transferred and graduated from James Lick High School both of which are located in East San Jose, California. Plunkett showed his talent for tossing the football by winning a throwing contest at the age of 14 with a heave of over 60 yards. Once he arrived at the school, he played quarterback and defensive end for the football team, with his athletic ability also helping him compete in basketball, baseball, track and wrestling.

Upon entering Stanford University in , Plunkett endured a rough freshman campaign after being weakened by a thyroid operation. His performance originally caused head coach John Ralston to switch him to defensive end, but Plunkett was adamant in remaining at quarterback, throwing 500 to 1,000 passes every day to polish his arm. He earned the opportunity to start in 1968, and in his first game, completed ten of thirteen passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns, and never relinquished his hold on the starting spot. Plunkett's arrival ushered in an era of wide-open passing, pro-style offenses in the Pac-8, a trend that has continued to the present.

His successful junior campaign saw him set league records for touchdown passes (20), passing yards (2,673) and total offense (2,786). This display of offensive firepower led Washington State coach Jim Sweeney to call Plunkett "The best college football player I've ever seen." After his junior year, Plunkett became eligible to enter the NFL draft, which would have given him a chance to earn a large roster bonus for himself and his mother. He passed up the chance at a paycheck, however, so that he could set a good example to the chicano youth he had tutored. In his senior year,1970, he led Stanford to their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1952, a game that ended with a 27-17 Stanford victory over the favored Ohio State Buckeyes.

With eighteen passing and three rushing touchdowns added to his 2,715 passing yards on the year (which broke his own conference record), Plunkett was awarded the 1970 Heisman Trophy and the pml award given annually to the top college football player in the country. Though he had set so many records on the season, 1970 had been the "Year of the Quarterback," and Plunkett beat out Notre Dame's Joe Theismann and Archie Manning of Ole Miss to win the award. He was the first Latino to win the Heisman Trophy. Aside from the Heisman, he captured the Maxwell Award for the nation's best quarterback and was named player of the year by United Press International, The Sporting News, and SPORT magazine. In addition, the American College Football Coaches Association designated him as their Offensive Player of the Year. He became the second multiple recipient of the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy, awarded each year to the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. Plunkett received the Voit Trophy in both 1969 and 1970.

Before Plunkett entered the NFL, he played in James Lick High School, and is in their hall of fame wall in the James Lick gymnasium, also UCLA coach Tommy Prothro had called him the "best pro quarterback prospect I've ever seen", echoing Sweeney's words from the year prior. His excellent arm strength and precision made him attractive to pro teams that relied much more heavily on the passing game than most college teams of the late 1960s. In 1971, he was drafted with the first overall pick in the NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Plunkett owns the distinction of being the only player of Hispanic heritage to be drafted with the first overall pick in the NFL draft. The Patriots finished the season at 6-8, fourth place in the AFC East.

Plunkett's first game was a 20-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots' first regular-season contest at Schaefer Stadium. New England also influenced the AFC East championship race, as Plunkett's 88-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass to former Stanford teammate Randy Vataha on the final day of the season dropped the Baltimore Colts to a 10-4-0 record and into second place in the division behind the 10-3-1 Miami Dolphins. Two weeks before the Patriots defeated the Colts, Plunkett engineered a 34-13 victory over the Dolphins.

Plunkett's touchdowns dropped and his interceptions rose in the following seasons, however, and he struggled with injuries and a shaky offensive line for the rest of his tenure in New England. By 1975, the Patriots drafted Steve Grogan, who would become a fixture with the club for 16 seasons, and under the leadership of coach Chuck Fairbanks, New England's offense became more run-oriented, led by Sam Cunningham.

In 1976, Plunkett was traded to the San Francisco 49ers, and led the team to a 6-1 start before faltering to an 8-6 record. After a 5-9 season in 1977, the 49ers released him during the 1978 preseason.

Plunkett then joined the Oakland Raiders in 1978, serving in a reserve capacity over the next two years, throwing no passes in 1978 and just 15 passes in 1979. However, five weeks into the 1980 NFL season, his career took a major turn when starting QB Dan Pastorini fractured his leg in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 33-year-old Plunkett came off the bench to relieve Pastorini, throwing five interceptions in a 31-17 loss. The Raiders, however, believing that Marc Wilson did not have the experience they wanted, called on Plunkett to start for the remainder of the year. In his first game as a starter, he completed eleven of fourteen passes with a touchdown and no interceptions. Plunkett guided Oakland to nine victories in eleven games and a playoff berth as a wild card. Plunkett led the Raiders to four playoff victories, including the first-ever victory by a wild card team in the Super Bowl, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10 in Super Bowl XV. Throwing for 261 yards and three touchdowns, Plunkett was named the game's MVP; subsequently, Plunkett has the distinction of being the first minority to quarterback a team to a Super Bowl victory and the only Hispanic to be named Super Bowl MVP. In addition to this, he became the second of four players to win the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP, Roger Staubach before him, and Marcus Allen and Desmond Howard after him.

After returning to the backup role in 1983, Plunkett again assumed starting duties, this time after an injury to Wilson. The Raiders advanced to Super Bowl XVIII, where they defeated the Washington Redskins, 38-9. Plunkett completed 16 of 25 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown in the game.

Plunkett spent most of his last three seasons either injured or as a backup. He retired after the 1986 season, and is currently the fourth-leading passer in Raiders history.

Currently, Plunkett does a post-game radio show of Raiders games, and is a co-host of several Raiders TV shows. A feature film based on his life is in the works.

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Joseph H. De Castro, Medal of Honor Recipient

Posted on 04/25/2011 @ 11:57 AM

Corporal Joseph H. De Castro (November 14, 1844 – May 8, 1892), was the first Hispanic-American to be awarded the United States' highest military decoration for valor in combat — the Medal of Honor — for having distinguished himself during Pickett's Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg of the American Civil War.

De Castro was the Massachusetts State flag bearer of Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry, an all volunteer unit. The unit participated in the Battle of Gettysburg at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania as part of the III Corps 3rd Brigade, U.S. Army under the command of Colonel Norman J. Hall.

On July 3, 1863, the third and last day of the battle, his unit participated in what became known as Pickett's Charge. Pickett's Charge was a disastrous infantry assault ordered by Confederate General Robert E. Lee against Major General George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge. During the battle, De Castro attacked a confederate flag bearer from the 19th Virginia Infantry regiment, with the staff of his own colors and seized the opposing regiment's flag, handing the prize over to General Alexander S. Webb. General Webb is quoted as saying, "At the instant a man broke through my lines and thrust a rebel battle flag into my hands. He never said a word and darted back. It was Corporal Joseph H. De Castro, one of my color bearers. He had knocked down a color bearer in the enemy's line with the staff of the Massachusetts State colors, seized the falling flag and dashed it to me". On December 1, 1864, De Castro was one of seven men from the 19th Massachusetts Infantry to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Sergeant Joseph H. De Castro Rank and organization: Corporal, Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., July 3, 1863 Born:Boston, Mass. Date of issue: December 1, 1864 Citation: Capture of flag of 19th Virginia regiment (C.S)

After the war De Castro entered the regular army and served for a few years. De Castro married Rosalia Rodriguez and in 1882 moved to New York City. There he was an active member of the Phil Kearny Post, number 8 GAR. He was recently employed by the NY Barge Office when on May 8, 1892, he died in his home at 244 West 22nd Street. His funeral was held at the 18th Street Methodist Church and he was buried at Fairmount Cemetery (Section 2, Lot 300, Grave 2) in Newark, New Jersey.

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Do you know the Nobel Laureates among Hispanic Americans?

Posted on 04/22/2011 @ 03:17 PM

In every step of America’s scientific and technological advancements, Latinos have helped guide the way. Latinos have contributed much in the fields of medicine and science, making discoveries that have generated new methods to understand the scientific phenomena of the natural world.

In 1959, Dr. Severo Ochoa won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for his discovery of RNA (ribonucleic acid), one of the chemical building blocks of life.

Severo Ochoa

Severo Ochoa

In 1968, Luis Alvarez won the Nobel Prize for his work in subatomic particles. As a professor at UC Berkeley, he helped develop microwave beacons and a new theory on how the dinosaurs became extinct.

Luis Alvarez

Luis Alvarez

In 1995, Mario Molina won the Nobel Prize for chemistry research that helped the world create a solution for the threat that chlorofluorocarbons pose to the earth’s protective ozone layer.

Mario Molina

Mario Molina

To learn more about these Nobel Laureates visit the official website of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Severo Ochoa

Luis Alvarez

Mario Molina

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Latino Leaders in Space and Science

Posted on 04/19/2011 @ 12:31 PM

Latino astronauts have been making history at NASA since 1986, when Franklin Chang-Diaz, a Latino of Costa Rican descent, became the first American Latino to serve on a space mission. Chang-Diaz served seven missions, and made innumerable contributions to American exploration in space. Since Chang-Diaz’s first mission, ten Latinos have followed in his footsteps.  Latino astronauts have become pioneers for the entire community, breaking barriers and inspiring achievement in science and technology. Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina astronaut in space in 1993, and Jose Acaba, a former high school science teacher, became the first Puerto Rican in space in 2009. Acaba and Jose Hernandez, the son of Mexican migrant farm workers, served on NASA’s shuttle mission STS-128  in 2009—the first NASA mission to have two Latinos on its crew.

Joseph Acaba

Joseph Acaba

JOSEPH M. ACABA—Born in 1967 in Inglewood, CA, and raised in Anaheim, CA. Acaba, a former science teacher, was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 2004 as part of the Educator Astronaut Program. Now a fully trained mission specialist, he will conduct two spacewalks during the Space Shuttle’s STS-119 mission to the International Space Station. Acaba also is a former Peace Corps worker who spent 2 years in the Dominican Republic. He enjoys outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and scuba diving. He also enjoys reading, especially science fiction. He received a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1990 and a master’s degree in geology from the University of Arizona in 1992.

Fernando Caldeiro

Fernando Caldeiro

FERNANDO “FRANK” CALDEIRO—Born June 12, 1958, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but considers New York City and Merritt Island, FL, to be his hometowns. NASA selected Caldeiro as an astronaut in 1996. In 2006, he joined the Agency’s WB-57 High Altitude Research Program at Ellington Field, and he conducts atmospheric research experiments carried aboard the WB-57 aircraft. In 2002, he was appointed to serve in the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. He enjoys building, flying, and racing his own experimental aircraft, in which he has logged more than 500 hours of flight time. Other interests include snorkeling, amateur radio (KE4RFI), and metalworking. He received an associate’s degree in applied science in aerospace technology from the State University of New York at Farmingdale in 1978, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona in 1984, and a master’s degree in engineering management from the University of Central Florida in 1995.

Franklin Diaz

Franklin Diaz

FRANKLIN R. CHANG DÍAZ (Ph.D.)—Born in 1950 in San José, Costa Rica. Chang Díaz became the first Hispanic astronaut when NASA selected him in 1980. He is a veteran of seven space flights: STS-61C in 1986, STS- 34 in 1989, STS-46 in 1992, STS-60 in 1994, STS-75 in 1996, STS-91 in 1998, and STS-111 in 2002. He logged more than 1,500 hours in space, including 19 hours during spacewalks. He received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1973 and a doctorate in applied plasma physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. Chang Díaz retired from NASA in 2005.

Sidney Gutierrez

Sidney Gutierrez

SIDNEY M. GUTIERREZ (Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Ret.)—Born in 1951 in Albuquerque, NM. NASA selected Gutierrez as an astronaut in 1984. He is a veteran of two space flights. He served as the pilot on STS-40 in 1991 and the commander on STS-59 in 1994. He received a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1973 and a master’s degree in management from Webster College in 1977. Gutierrez retired from NASA in 1994.

Jose Hernandez

Jose Hernandez

JOSÉ M. HERNÁNDEZ—Born August 7, 1962, in French Camp, CA, but considers Stockton, CA, to be his hometown. In 2004, NASA selected Hernández as an astronaut. He had joined the Agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston as a materials research engineer in 2001. He will serve as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle’s STS-128 mission, targeted for launch in 2009. Hernández grew up as one of four children in a migrant farming family from Mexico. He learned to speak English when he was 12 years old. In 1999, the Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists honored him for his professional and community contributions. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of the Pacific in 1984 and a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California-Santa Barbara in 1986.

Michael Lopez-Alegria

Michael Lopez-Alegria

MICHAEL E. LOPEZ-ALEGRIA (Captain, U.S. Navy, Ret.)—Born May 30, 1958, in Madrid, Spain, and grew up in Mission Viejo, CA. NASA selected Lopez-Alegria as an astronaut in 1992. A veteran of four space flights, he has logged more than 257 days in space and performed 10 spacewalks totaling 67 hours and 40 minutes. He was a mission specialist during Space Shuttle missions STS-73 in 1995, STS-92 in 2000, and STS-113 in 2002. Between September 2006 and April 2007, he served as the commander of Expedition 14 on the International Space Station. During that mission, Lopez-Alegria conducted five spacewalks for Station assembly and maintenance and conducted nearly 500 hours of science operations. As a pilot, he has accumulated more than 5,000 hours in 30 different aircraft. He enjoys sports, traveling, and cooking, and he is interested in national and international political, economic, and security affairs. He speaks Spanish, French, and Russian. He received a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1980 and a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1988. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in national and international security.

Christopher Loria

Christopher Loria

CHRISTOPHER J. “GUS” LORIA (Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps)—Born July 9, 1960, in Belmont, MA, but considers League City, TX, to be his hometown. NASA selected Loria as an astronaut in 1996. He was assigned as the pilot for Space Shuttle mission STS-113, but he requested a reassignment due to an injury sustained at home and its subsequent impact on his training. Loria received a bachelor’s degree in general engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University in 2004. Loria retired from the astronaut corps in 2005.

Carlos Noriega

Carlos Noriega

CARLOS I. NORIEGA (Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, Ret.)—Born October 8, 1959, in Lima, Peru, but considers Santa Clara, CA, to be his hometown. NASA selected Noriega as an astronaut in 1994. He is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions: STS-84 in 1997 and STS-97 in 2000. He has logged more than 481 hours in space, including more than 19 hours conducting spacewalks. Noriega retired from the astronaut corps in 2005 and now is a part of the Constellation Program at Johnson Space Center. He enjoys skiing, running, and spending time with his five children. Noriega received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Southern California in 1981, followed by a master’s degree in computer science and a master’s in space systems operations from the Naval Postgraduate School in 1990.

Ellen Ochoa

Ellen Ochoa

ELLEN OCHOA (Ph.D.)—Born in 1958 in Los Angeles, CA, but considers La Mesa, CA, to be her hometown. She is the first and only female Hispanic astronaut to fly in space. NASA selected Ochoa as an astronaut in 1990. She spent nearly 1,000 hours in space during four Shuttle missions: STS-56 in 1993, STS-66 in 1994, STS-96 in 1999, and STS-110 in 2002. She now serves as Deputy Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Ochoa is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Harvard Foundation Science Award, Women in Aerospace’s Outstanding Achievement Award, and the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award. She is a classical flutist and pilot, and she also enjoys volleyball and bicycling. Ochoa received a bachelor’s degree in physics from San Diego State University in 1980, followed by a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1981 and 1985, respectively.

John "Danny" Olivas

JOHN D. “DANNY” OLIVAS (Ph.D.)—Born in 1966 in North Hollywood, CA, and raised in El Paso, TX. NASA selected Olivas as an astronaut in 1998. In 2007, he flew on the STS-117 Shuttle mission and conducted two spacewalks. Olivas conducted the first-ever on-orbit repair of a Shuttle during a spacewalk. Olivas will serve as a mission specialist on the STS-128 mission, targeted for launch in 2009. He enjoys surfing, hunting, fishing, and spending time with his five children. He received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas-El Paso, a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Houston, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering and materials science from Rice University.

George Zamka

George Zamka

GEORGE D. ZAMKA (Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps)—Born in 1962 in Jersey City, NJ, and raised in New York City; Irvington, NY; Medellín, Colombia; and Rochester Hills, MI. NASA selected Zamka as an astronaut in 1998. In 2007, he served as the pilot on the Shuttle’s STS-120 mission to the International Space Station, his first space flight. Zamka will serve as the commander of the STS-130 crew. As a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, Zamka flew 66 combat missions over occupied Kuwait and Iraq during Desert Storm. He enjoys bicycling, scuba diving, and boating. Zamka received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984 and a master’s degree in engineering management from the Florida Institute of Technology in 1997.

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