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4 Hispanic Icons Who Influenced Society

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate and honor people of Hispanic heritage for their contributions to America and the world. In honor of this year’s theme, Prosperity, Power, & Progress, get to know a few individuals who have impacted society.

Dr. Elena Rios, MD, MSPH, MACP

Dr. Rios is the President and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association.

She impacts healthcare through several boards and committees, including the Better Medicare Alliance, Centene Health Equity Committee, and many more. Through her career, she has been recognized with prestigious awards like Washingtonian's Top 500 policy influencers in Washington, DC.

Dr. Rios became a doctor because of her desire to increase access to healthcare and health equity in the Hispanic community as a physician.

Severo Ochoa, MD


Severo was a biochemist and enzymologist who won the 1959 Nobel Prize for the synthesis of ribonucleic acid (RNA). He was the first Hispanic American to earn this prestigious award. For his remarkable impact in science, the asteroid 117435 Severochoa was named in his honor, and he received the US National Medal of Science in 1978.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Ileana holds a career with many firsts: she was the first Latina to serve in the Florida house, the first Latina in the Florida senate; the first Latina to serve in the US House of Representatives, the first Latina and the first Cuban American in Congress, and the first woman to ever be chair of a regular standing committee of the House.

Through her rich career, she has also been an advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and women serving in the military. Ileana announced retirement from her political career in 2017 after 44 years of service.

Cesar Chavez


Cesar was an American labor leader and civil rights activist. After serving in the Navy, he became involved with the Community Service Organization in California, a civil rights organization for Latinix people. Cesar also co-founded the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta and led marches to advocate for Latinx civil rights. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994 following his passing.

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