Hispanic Excellence: Standouts in Education, Sports … – NHL.com

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In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Florida Panthers annual ‘Celebration of Hispanic Excellence’ series will recognize South Florida residents making a difference in the local community.
From Hispanic business owners and educators to creators, healthcare workers, activists, executives and more, the Panthers ‘Celebration of Hispanic Excellence’ program recognizes individuals nominated by their peers, colleagues, families or friends for the positive impact they are making in South Florida and beyond.
Honorees’ stories will be highlighted throughout Hispanic Heritage Month at FloridaPanthers.com/VamosGatos and Panthers social media platforms, @FlaPanthers and @FlaPanthersCARE.
Later this season, ‘Hispanic Excellence’ honorees will be recognized during the team’s annual ¡Vamos Gatos! Night powered by Ford on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, when the Panthers take on the Colorado Avalanche at 6 PM at FLA Live Arena. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit SeatGeek.com.
In this week of Hispanic Excellence, the Panthers will highlight honorees in the fields of education, sports and entertainment.
Associate Vice President of Government Affairs and Community Relations & Acting Chancellor – Ana G. Mendez University 
Syndia Nazario-Cardona understands that education influences society, ignites motivation, and creates opportunities for change. She has dedicated her life to helping and empowering others for over 30 years in Florida. She has also worked throughout her career on government relations, social justice, and immigrant issues. Syndia began her professional career as a preschool teacher before becoming director of ASPIRA’s Broward Division, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing students’ education through leadership capacity. While there, her commitment to education and determination to build a new generation of Latino leaders motivated her to raise thousands of dollars for scholarships for youth graduating from high school, resulting in a 92% college placement from the graduates in the program. Since joining UAGM/AGMU, Syndia has expanded her advocacy for access to higher education. She was instrumental in implementing portions of the university’s expansion plan to reinforce its commitment to providing quality higher education to all U.S. Hispanics. Syndia’s greatest satisfaction is having the opportunity to influence students while empowering them for a better future through educational opportunities. Her work has been recognized at local, state, and international levels.
Founder & President – Amerigol International Hockey Association
Juan Carlos Otero has spent the past 31 years using his excellent vision, organizational and communication skills to develop and increase Americhem Pharmaceutical’s presence in Central America and the Caribbean in addition to obtaining key manufacturer representations. His love for the game of hockey and proud Latino roots led him to launch Amerigol International Hockey Association in 2017. The mission of Amerigol International is to provide hockey players from Latin America and the Caribbean an opportunity to showcase their talent by participating in the AmerigolLATAM Cup Tournament. This tournament in only five years has had tremendous growth and helped increase participation not only in these countries, but also given Latinos living in the United States and Canada an opportunity to participate with their National team. Juan Carlos has been dedicated to growing the ice hockey community throughout the Latin community since the beginning of Amerigol. The LATAM Cup has allowed those from Latin countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, etc., to travel and participate in this annual tournament at Panthers IceDen.​
Social Worker – Broward County Schools
Ada Gonzalez is a Broward County Public School Bilingual Social Worker. Her 20-year professional career has encompassed an array of experiences working with children, adolescents, and adults. The student body Ada works with face significant challenges while attempting to learn and grow into the best versions of themselves. Ada sees the challenges and actively seeks ways to reduce or eliminate obstacles standing in the way of student success and wellbeing. Ada has provided many families the food and resources they need through her work with Harvest Drive. She often picks up food, toiletries, clothing, shoes, and household items each family needs and delivers to them. It always brings Ada joy to see her families react positively and express gratitude even though they are going through difficult times. Ada’s interests include spending time with her family and friends, gardening, photography, and travel.
History Teacher & Athletic Coach – Broward County Public Schools
Guillermo Torrentes goes above and beyond his duty as a high school teacher. He also supports the athletic department. He has partnered with the Jason Taylor Foundation in order to teach students about what goes on in the world of sports even if they are not athletes. He does so much for the students and faculty at his school with love and compassion. He is a teacher, mentor, and a father-like figure for his students. Guillermo comes from a family of migrants who came to North America from Central America. He is the first in his family to graduate with a Bachelor’s and Master’s. He is currently on the Board of Directors for the Florida Council of Social Studies for all Broward County High Schools.
Teacher – Seminole Tribe of Florida
Barbara Oliva is a dedicated, Cuban-American teacher with over 15 years of experience helping students in different capacities. Barbara helped bring STEM education to the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ahfachkee School. She also prepared the students for a STEM competition two years in a row. She provided virtual field trips to students during the lockdown and coordinated the after-school program for students throughout the hybrid and in-person learning in order to provide tutoring opportunities for the students to achieve academic excellence. She has mentored students for the last seven years to help them succeed in high school and beyond. Barbara is the first in her family to graduate college/university and to obtain her Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees. She loves animals and recently became a mom to a beautiful baby girl.
Vice President of Finance for Latin America – Live Nation​
Senia Severino is Vice President of Finance for Latin America for Live Nation Entertainment. As such, she leads a full spectrum of accounting and finance operations and oversees joint ventures in Miami (such as Groot Hospitality), across Latin America (including Rock in Rio – Brazil, DF Entertainment – Argentina and DG Medio’s- Chile), and even in Europe (for Rock in Rio Lisboa). Senia’s previous role as Vice President of Finance for Programming for NBC Universal’s Telemundo Enterprises put her at the forefront of strategic planning and financial analysis for some of the world’s most significant sporting events, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France, and even COPA America tournaments. Not stopping there, Senia is a devoted board member of Girls, Inc. of Greater Miami, and, through her tireless efforts, has helped provide tools, guidance, and mentorship to transform the lives of countless young women. Undoubtedly a trailblazer and example for women and minorities, and especially for Latinas, Senia’sproudest achievement is being a guiding light for her two young daughters, who emulate the same passion for achieving greatness, expressing kindness, and leading with grace as their mother.​
Assistant Principal – Lyons Creek Middle School
Dory Vega-Rodriguez is a proud Puerto Rican. She is a first-generation college graduate from Boston College. She is a dedicated educator serving the public school system for over two decades in South Florida. She currently serves as the Assistant Principal for Lyons Creek Middle School, an A school for the fifth year in a row. Dory is tireless in her efforts in advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at her school. She has led countless initiatives celebrating the rich diversity of South Florida to include spearheading the Latinos in Action, to support Latinx students in their academic pursuits. She also spearheaded many events to engage the community in learning about different cultures and aimed to promote collaboration, education, and opportunity across differences. Amongst her greatest achievements is being the mother to two teenage twins and creating a home in South Florida with her husband. In her spare time, Dory enjoys exploring the culinary options in Florida, practicing yoga, traveling, and giving back to her community. ​
Teacher – Miami-Dade County Public Schools 
Diane Berkley was born in New Rochelle, New York and grew up in Hialeah. She began teaching at her church at the age of 13. She learned Spanish in elementary school to communicate with her Cuban grandmother. That allowed her to be teach Spanish for three years. She is currently a Middle School Social Studies teacher in Hialeah.  In 1993, Diane became a Florida Panthers fan. She teaches with a Florida Panthers twist. Her classroom is decked out in a gallery of Panthers memorabilia, creating an environment that not only facilitates learning, but also inclusivity. Her students appreciate the environment and have even asked about some of her posters and photos. In 2004, Diane won the Florida Panthers’ 7th Man contest. You can often find Diane down by the glass during warmups of Florida Panthers games and at a variety of Panthers events.


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