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Washington, D.C. - The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) National Internship Program attracted a record crowd to the 10th Anniversary Gala of what today is the nation's largest Hispanic college internship program.

""The sheer excitement and high caliber of celebrants were outstanding testament to the remarkable success of a program that is opening so many new doors to college and career opportunities for our nation's youngest and largest ethnic population,"" said HACU President and CEO Antonio R. Flores following the Gala late Wednesday July 10, at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Washington, D.C.

""The support from our sponsors, our partners and our guests at the 10th Anniversary Gala inspires us to aim for even greater achievements in our efforts to promote workforce diversity and a better future for our nation's Hispanic higher education students,"" Flores said. ""My congratulations to all of our current and former interns, who surely will be among our nation's leaders in the years to come.""

Since 1992, the HACU National Internship Program has introduced more than 3,800 top Hispanic college students to career and professional development opportunities through paid internships with federal agencies and private corporations throughout the United States.

More than 500 guests attended the Gala, including 250 current and former interns, members of Congress, the White House Administration and other distinguished guests at the celebration of a program that is ""making a critically needed difference in efforts to end the historic under-representation of Hispanics in the federal work force and in private-sector management ranks,"" Flores remarked.

The students joined a stellar roster of speakers and guests, including: U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin; Dan Blair, Deputy Director, Office of Personnel Management; Congressman John Boehner, Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce; U.S. Representatives Javier Becerra and Joe Baca of California, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Leslie Sanchez, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanic Americans, U.S. Department of Education; National Council of La Raza President and CEO Raul Yzaguirre; Partnership for Public Service President Max Stier; Deputy National Science Foundation Director Joseph Dordogne; El Paso, Texas, Mayor Ray Caballero; Assistant Agriculture Secretary Lou Gallegos, and Assistant Education Secretary for Legislative and Congressional Affairs Rebecca Campoverde.

Other distinguished speakers and guests included representatives of the Navy, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Justice and the Marriott Corporation.

HACU offered praise and formal recognition to HACU National Internship Program 10th Anniversary event sponsors, including the Central Intelligence Agency, National Hispanic Coalition of Federal Aviation Employers, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Veterans Affairs, Eastman Kodak, Freddie Mac, Marriott International and Univision.

""Without the support of our sponsors and our long-term partners, we would not be enjoying the tremendous success and national attention to our shared mission to promote creating a public service sector and private sector workforce ranks more reflective of our diverse citizenry,"" said HACU National Internship Executive Director William Rafael Gil. ""We owe our profound thanks to the dedication of our partners and supporters for their continuing support and commitment to opening so many new doors to opportunity for all Americans.""

The HACU National Internship Program has received formal recognition from the White House and Office of Personnel Management for promoting workforce diversity and for directly introducing Hispanics to federal career opportunities. Hispanics currently represent only 6.5 percent of the federal workforce -- 4.6 percent below the current Hispanic civilian labor employment level.

A recent survey of HACU National Internship Program students shows that more than 70 percent are interested in pursuing a career in the federal government as a direct result of their internship experiences. Indeed, many former interns now are full-time federal employees.

""In all honesty, I would not have thought of working for the federal government without being introduced to it by the HACU National Internship Program. The internship opened my eyes to how rewarding federal service can be,"" said Daniel Macias, a recent graduate from California State University at San Bernardino who now is a full-time employee of the National Institutes of Health.

California State University at San Bernardino is one of more than 320 HACU member and partner colleges and universities serving the largest concentrations of Hispanic higher education students in the United States.

The National Institutes of Health, where Macias served as a HACU National Internship Program intern before becoming a full-time employee, is one of dozens of federal and corporate partners who each year work through the program to offer paid internships to students whose fields of study and career interests best match partnering agency and corporation interests. ""At the National Institutes of Health, we're recruiting the best minds in the world to do the research to find cures for cancer and for so many other diseases. Wow! I'm playing a part in that,"" Macias said.

""The HACU internship experience provided me with the exposure to the most important issues affecting the United States and the world,"" said Rafael E. Resto-Olivo, a recent graduate from the HACU member Rio Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico who now is a full-time employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. ""After being a summer intern at the CIA, I was offered and accepted a position in the CIA Graduate Fellowship Program. Then I officially joined the ranks of a world-class organization,"" Resto-Olivo said.

""The HACU National Internship Program was the decisive, motivating factor that led me to choose a career as a public servant,"" said Cyrus Salazar, a recent graduate of HACU member New Mexico State University who now is a full-time employee for the National Institutes of Health.

Salazar labeled the program ""a catalyst"" for promoting career goals for individuals and workforce diversity for the nation. ""Americans have grown together from turbulent times to better understanding and compatibility with others. It is up to everyone to ensure that diversity is represented across all walks of life,"" Salazar said.

""The HACU National Internship Program was a great opportunity for me to get to know a diverse group of people who make an impact on other people's lives directly and indirectly. It also helped me land the job I currently have. I became part of that group that makes a difference,"" said Lara Rivera Lopez, a recent graduate of HACU member University of Puerto Rico who now is a full-time employee of the Office of Personnel Management.

""America is one of the most diverse societies in the world. It is important that we reflect that diversity in the workplace,"" Rivera Lopez said. ""To identify similarities will bring us all closer; to use our differences to create more effective and creative work environments and social environments will benefit us all,"" the former intern said.

For more information, contact the HACU National Internship Program in Washington, D.C., at (202) 467-0893, or HACU National Headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, at (210) 692-3805. Ext. 3214. Or visit