In my capacity as a NASA employee and a Huntsville, Ala., community volunteer, I have dedicated myself to the Hispanic community. This motivation springs from my own heritage – devotion to family, history and culture — and from my professional NASA values, which include cultural diversity and awareness. It’s my passion to help Hispanic people in the state of Alabama and around the world; I feels it is most important to help open doors for children and young people, to let them see the opportunities they have to continue their education and develop rewarding careers and fulfilling lives. I believe we should start training and developing the minds of these students to their full potential at an early age, because all children, regardless of their race, deserve the opportunity to succeed.
I have tried to expand awareness of the Hispanic community in Alabama and the needs of our Hispanic youth, seeking to procure grants and build new opportunities for them, from inspiring speaking engagements and hands-on NASA activities to full summer internships. Whenever possible, I participate in public events at NASA and the surrounding community, and have spoken to students — in English and in Spanish — across the area, the state and the nation. I conduct recruiting trips for NASA, and have served as a member of NASA’s Corporate Recruitment Team. Since 2003, I have encouraged scores of students to pursue careers with NASA.
At NASA, we sponsor and co-sponsor events to serve underprivileged and socially disadvantaged Hispanic students, with the goal of raising student awareness, inspiration, community leadership involvement and, in many cases, scholarships for gifted students.
I strive to coalesce the diverse multicultural Hispanic communities, and in particular seek to be an exemplary role model for young Hispanic women. Above all else, I want these students — all of them — to take pride in their lives, to celebrate their accomplishments in education with their families and their communities, and to take their place and find limitless success in the world they will inherit.
For Elia Ordóñez, giving back to her native Hispanic community is paramount in her life. Ms. Ordóñez was born in Moctezuma, Chihuahua, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States in 1974. Ordóñez, who is bilingual, graduated from Athens State University in Athens, Ala., in 1990 with a degree in Business Administration and Management. She began her NASA career at the Marshall Center in 1989 as a cooperative education (co-op) student. Today, she serves as the Hispanic program manager for the Office of Diversity & Equal Opportunity at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Ms. Ordóñez is passionate about her job and dedicates much of her time to serving the Hispanic community in Alabama, working to inspire high school students to follow their dreams and work hard to reach their goals. In 2001, Ordóñez co-founded and became vice-president of the Hispanic Association of Alabama. In 2002, she co-founded the Annual Mi Futuro Hispanic Youth Conference. She served from 2003-2005 as a member of the board of directors of the Latin American Association of Alabama and has also been a member of the NASA Corporate Recruitment Team since 2003. In 2006, she was named National Hispanic Woman of the Year by the Worldwide Association of Mexicans Abroad. She was selected by the House of Representatives of the State of Alabama in 2007 to serve as a member of the Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission for the State of Alabama. In 2008, Ms. Ordóñez was named Woman of the Year by the Hispanic Professional Women’s Association in recognition of her exceptional contribution to the progress of youth and the Hispanic community. She also serves as the point of contact at NASA Marshall for the English Action Plan for people with Limited English Deficiency.