Our speakers represent the Culture, the Community, and the Identity of our Rio Grande Valley (RGV).They are all different, but united on one central belief: Our Youth needs to be engaged in conversations about our RGV.


Basically, they were selected because they possess magic powers… No Joke.


You can tell these people NO and they find a way to make it a YES. They are the luchadores of change, the Walter Mercados of community development, and the cuentos of our current generation.

Cristina Mercado

Health Advocate

Cristina Mercado was born and raised in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and graduated from UTRGV with a bachelor’s degree in Biology.


She started Super Rami, which is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about childhood cancer, after her nephew died. She works everyday to ensure kids with cancer in the Rio Grande Valley live as comfortably as possible, and hopefully get a job in the medical field.

Follow her @cristymdo on Instagram. Or her organization @superramiandfriends


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Nolan Navarro


Nolan Navarro is a Brownsville native and professional model that, at age 21, was featured in
New York’s Fashion Week.


They are now a regular, and through their modeling, they try to send a message about gender neutrality and bullying as they were bullied at a young age for wanting to become a professional model. They inspire those who are too afraid to pursue their dream to push past the negativity and criticism and be themselves.


They have been participating in the New York Fashion Week for four years since they were 19.





Jorge A. Ramirez


Jorge A. Ramirez is a law professor at Texas Tech University, and a past recipient of the university's “Chancellor's Council Distinguished Teaching Award”.


Born in raised in McAllen, Texas, Professor Ramirez left the Rio Grande Valley to pursue degrees in law and economics from Harvard University. He now spends his time giving back to his community and giving back to young leaders.


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Melissa Hinojosa-Zamora

Life Advocate

Melissa Hinojosa-Zamora is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention South Texas Chapter. She has built relationships with members of Congress and state legislators to prevent suicide and potentially implement her program in schools.


In 2012, Hinojosa-Zamora helped create an inaugural walk that raised over $32,000 and had over 1000 participants. Her goal is to educate the public about the mental health and remove the stigma around it as well as reduce the annual rate of suicide.


Gloria De Leon

NHI Co-Founder

Gloria De Leon has served as the Executive Vice President for the National Hispanic Institute since it began in 1982. Born in McAllen, Texas, she grew up to attend the University of  Texas Pan American and eventually receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award.


In 1983, De Leon decided to pursue the vision of creating a leadership institution for Latino youth with Ernesto Nieto, founder and current president of NHI. Together, they formed an organization that has worked with over 120 institutions of higher education and 70,000 high-ability youth from across the nation.


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JM Longoria 


J.M. (Jose Maria) Longoria III was born and raised in the small town of La Grulla, Texas. He attended Rio Grande City High School where he graduated Valedictorian of his senior class. J.M. made the trek to Hollywood shortly after receiving his B.F.A in Design and Certification in Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin. He then attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts - LA.


 J.M. has starred in several short films that have been presented in notable film festivals across the country. He has also been featured in high-profile music videos, including "Somebody's Chelsea" by Reba McEntire, and "Everybody Talks" and "Lessons in Love" by the band Neon Trees.


He's currently starring in the web-based, telenovela "Sin Verguenza." The telenovela centers around a Mexican-American family that must confront serious issues, including HIV. The show won an Imagen Award for "Best Informational Reality Series" in 2013. Most recently, J.M. was named Latina Magazine's "Hot Papi" after an extensive nationwide search.

Mark Hanna

Hanna Solutions 

Raised by his Great Grandparents, Mark Hanna brings an “Old School” mentality to a new generation.


He is an experienced Realtor with a demonstrated history of working in the commercial real estate industry. Skilled in Construction Loans, Coaching, Sales, Management, and Sales Presentations. Strong real estate professional with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) focused in Marketing from The University of Texas-Pan American.


Serving the community that has given Mark so much is very important to him.

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