• Inaugural Women's Conference 2021

    Thank you for your support on the

    Young Women's STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy

    Inaugural Women's Conference held on

    April 10, 2021.

    This event was hosted virtually by our Warrior High Student Council and was open to all ages, all genders, and all those who support our future female leaders! Our student team sought out various women who have stories to share on how they overcame challenges to become recognized as change-makers in their career fields and communities. Four speakers generously accepted our request to represent the female role in the highest capacity. We were so excited for them to share their stories and positive messages on the theme of

    "Be-YOU-tiful: Wellness & Positive Mindset" chosen by our Warrior students.


     Your participation in the first ever YWA Women's Conference helped to generate income for our Warrior Student Council Program. This program seeks to represent the entire YWA student body and their families. As a new school in the EPISD distict, is it our desire to connect events and programs to the greater El Paso area as our students attend YWA from all over the county. We are excited to have our first graduating class in 2023, launching our Warrior Change-Makers! We appreciate your participation and generosity to help the Warrior Student Council provide leadership opportunities, sprinkled in with fun and entertaining events that help solidify our Warrior Sisterhood from grades 6-12.


    Read further on this exciting event from Renee de Santos, Community Engagement with EPISD


    (YOUNG WOMEN’S STEAM RESEARCH & PREPARATORY ACADEMY -- April 15, 2021) — The Young Women’s STEAM Academy inaugural Women’s Conference on April 10 gave students and other participants a chance to hear inspiring stories and messages from successful women leaders in a variety of fields. 

    Featured speakers for the “Be-YOU-tiful” conference included: Emcee Dr. Tamekia Brown, EPISD chief academic officer; Congresswoman Veronica Escobar; Georgina Perez, State Board of Education; Iris Lopez, founder & executive director of “Mija, Yes you Can”; Alejandra Baca-Rodriguez, founder and editor-in-chief of Belle the Magazine; and Crystal Ponzio-Busto, marketing executive of for Netflix. 

    “We were so fortunate to have five amazing women who graciously donated their time and energy to speak and lead at our first conference,” said Naomi Conner of the Young Women’s Academy. “The student committee was so encouraged by their stories they thought to open the conference to all families, all genders, and all who seek to support women in leadership. People registered from El Paso, North Carolina, Florida, Connecticut, California, Tennessee and more.” 

    Brown, who kicked it off with her own story of perseverance and overcoming big obstacles, guided participants through the program.

    “She inspired us all to keep pushing through the hard times because that is what makes us stronger and resilient,” Connor said. 

    Perez shared her story of resiliency during her childhood and how she turned to the library to find peace though the books given to her by the librarian. This small action was significant point in her life as she now fights the good fight to strengthen our Mexican-American and African-American studies in the state of Texas.  

    Baca-Rodriguez left participants with a message on how to embrace fear and use the momentum of fear to move forward. A traumatic event during her adolescent years, left her fearful to leave her home but her parents supported and wanted her to leave her hometown in Mexico and attend college at UTEP.

    “This allowed her to grab a hold of many opportunities to travel around the world and overcome her fear of people and the unknown,” Connor recalled. “Now, she is an advocate for LatinX representation in the wedding industry.” 

    Ponzio spoke to the audience about taking chances and not letting doubt creep in our minds. She shared that school activities would always seem interesting when shared on the morning announcements but never felt like ‘it was for her.’ Then, one day, she noticed her friends taking advantage of opportunities to do cool things, and thought, "Why not me?" It was in that moment, she realized that she could do whatever she wanted to do but it would take her making the first step, a bit of work behind the scenes, and persistence. 

    “This persistence has helped her make sure the LatinX community is being represented in the entertainment industry,” Conner said.  

    Lopez’s presentation focused on mental health and how hard it was to always wonder why she was so different than other people. 

    “With the encouragement of the people who were close to her, she pursued her dreams in the journalism field,” Connor said of the KVIA weathercaster. “She has changed the landscape of how we discuss mental health in the work place and she is paying it forward with her organization, ‘Mia, Yes You Can.’” 

    The students also received video messages from other prominent women: U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar; KVIA anchor Stephanie Valle; Katherine Balogun with 21st Century Women; Valerie Ponzio, singer-song-writer from "The Voice"; and and Angel Mitchell, an aspiring Naval Flight officer. 

    “Each person had an uplifting message on what is Be-YOU-tiful to them, to keep pressing on, and the importance of taking every opportunity presented that will help them,” Connor said.

    Story by Reneé de Santos


    Meet our Change-Makers!


    Crystal Ponzio-Busto  

    Crystal Ponzio-Busto: Marketing Director for Netflix

    Crystal Ponzio-Busto, is a creative marketer who has spent the last eight years at Netflix, working across Original Film, Global Brand and International Marketing. Prior to that, she helped launch rival streamer, Hulu's first orginal series as the company's first dedicated content marketing hire. Having also held digital marketing posts at IFC and brand agency Wieden + Kennedy in NYC in the mid 2000's, her sights has always been set on being part of what is next in the industry. 

    She first become a movie marketing enthusiast during the summer of 1993 where she saw Jurassic Park in every book store, light box, theater lobby and on every Slurpee, lunchbox, and Happy Meal in sight. After attending the 8:30am, showing on June 11, she returned every week that summer and ended up at the movie theater 21 times to watch and re-watch. You could say she is a movie marketer, 28 years in the making!

    She grew up in the border town of El Paso, Texas and a proud graduate of Boston University and the very proud product of public schooling and generous mentoring. 

    Alejandra Baca-Rodriguez

    Alejandra (Alex) Baca-Rodriguez:

    Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Belle The Magazine

    Alejandra (Alex) Baca-Rodriguez is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of the award winning wedding blog, Belle The Magazine and a social media marketing educator specializing in Pinterest. 

    Alejandra is a multi-passionate creative professional with a love for and focus on the wedding industry where she has more than 15 years of experience. She is the go-to wedding expert for bridal fashion, social media, and digital marketing. She attends Bridal Fashion Week every year to preview the new designs from international bridal designers from all around the world. 

    Alex has worked with brands such as Macy's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Colgate, Dove, Westin Hotels, Disney, Crate & Barrel, and many more. 

    She is a proud Latina and champion of the LatinX Event Industry. She is a committee member at the National Bridal Council, the National Events Council, and The Knot's Fellowship of Change. She has contributed her wedding and marketing expertise with some of the biggest national wedding media outlets. 

    She is orginally from Chihuahua, Mexico and moved to the US 20 years ago to attend college. She received a BA degree with a double major in Marketing and International Business with a minor in French from UTEP. She was fortunate enough to travel around the world during her college years and settled down 15 years ago in El Paso with her husband and three boys plus four dogs. 


    Georgina Cecilia Perez

    Georgina Cecilia Perez:

    Democratic member of the Texas State Board of Education

    Georgina Cecila Perez is a Democratic member of the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE), representing El Paso adn the greater West Texas region. Perez served as chair of the School Policing Committee for the Biden-Harris 2020 presidential campaign, developing education policy focused on equity and access for marginalized students of color.

    Born in El Paso, Texas, Perez spent her childhood bouncing between homes and schools. After facing exploitation as a young woman, Perez found refuge in books. Reading provided a lifesaving escape from the trauma of everyday life and served as the foundation of her lifelong devotion to education. Driven by that devotion, Perez led the historic adoption of both Mexican-American Studies and African-American Studies as statewide courses.

    A passionat advocate for literacy, she has worked to coordinate the "Tu Libro'program, which has distributed more than 500,000 books to students who live in rural and impoverished communities in El Paso County that lack regualr access to public libraries. Perez is the author of "Unity Framework: Critial Literacy Lessons" and "Women of the Americas: A Teatro", and the founder of both the Rural Schools of Education program, and Texas Student Civic Engagement Project. 


    Iris Lopez

    Iris Lopez, Founder/Executive Director of Mija, Yes You Can,

    Content Coordinator/Social Media Strategist

    Iris Lopez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Minor in Spanish and a Major in Multimedia Journalism. 

    She began her broadcasting career in radio as "Lily Lopez" on 104.3 Hitfm in El Paso, Texas. Iris then made the move to TV news where she is currently a general assignments reporter, weekend evening weather anchor, and proud creator of the on-air franchise, "KVIA Sunday Funday Moments". 

    Iris' passion for empowering wormen was instilled in her at a young age by her parents, aunts, and grandmothers. Her passion grew even stronger after the relationships she developed with other young female broadcasters who were struggling to find a voice in a male dominated business. 

    Iris' passion to inspire and motivate others is due in large part to her 10-year old son, Jacob. For Iris, being a mom is one of the greatest accomplishments she has achieved and it is what continues to motivate her to inspire our youth. Email Iris at irismijaproject@gmail.com.