Top-notch Hispanic students get professional development boost at high-powered institute.

In four intense days, thanks to the Karen Marquez Institute (formerly the Hispanic College Fund), Daniel Zamora, an accounting major in the College of Business Administration at Florida International University (FIU) and 34 other college students from across the country, gathered in Washington, DC where they advanced along their career path. Members of this elite group—chosen from almost 600 applicants and awarded cash scholarships—are now armed with contacts at enterprises from coast to coast, a network of other talented Hispanic students and the skills they need to succeed in their careers. They also know that a commitment to community service fits into the profile of a leader.

The 2009 Karen Marquez Institute participants at the White House

“I was pleased to represent FIU though I was surprised to be selected because the institute focuses on science, engineering, technology and math, and said Zamora, who was named “National Student of the Year” by the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA) in the fall of 2009. “Fortunately, they place business under math.”

The institute built in time for sight-seeing, including Capitol Hill.

Industry-leading companies sponsored sessions and presented on topics from résumé writing to developing an elevator pitch to fine-dining etiquette. The participants also got to see the sights in the nation’s capital, meet with congressional representatives, and learn about immigration public policy and how to obtain security clearance.

Gala is highlight but the work goes on.

At a gala awards ceremony and dinner, the students had the chance to thank the sponsors.

Daniel Zamora thanked Ford Motor Company for its sponsorship.

“My scholarship came from Ford Motor Company, and I was able to express my gratitude publicly and got to sit with them at the dinner,” Zamora said.

His take-away went far beyond the skills he refined. Acting on the organization’s focus on giving back, Zamora wants to bring the institute’s programs for high school students—the Hispanic Youth Institute—to FIU.

“The youth program starts with the Hispanic Youth Symposium, which takes place on a college campus and I hope to have FIU be one of those locations,” he said.

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