Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Antonia Pantoja with President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton, September 9, 1996. The photograph was likely taken in the White House. Antonia Pantoja, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1922, is best known for founding ASPIRA in 1961 to counter a high dropout rate by Puerto Rican youth in New York City's high schools. Pantoja emphasized leadership development and community service, as well as a commitment to educational excellence. In 1968, ASPIRA America grew out of the original organization, now know as the ASPIRA Association, with offices in several states and Puerto Rico. Nydia M. Velázquez was born in 1953 in Puerto Rico, and traveled to New York City to study political science on scholarship at New York University. She completed a master's degree in 1976, and became a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, then at Hunter College (CUNY) in New York City from 1981-1983. In 1983, Velázquez began her political career on the New York City Council. She served as the Director of Puerto Rican Community Affairs of the United States in 1986, and was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1992, representing New York City's 12th Congressional District. Velázquez has served on a number of political committees and caucuses, including the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, the Women's Issues Caucus, the Congressional Children's Caucus and as chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. In 2003, Hispanic Business Magazine named Velázquez "Hispanic Business Woman of the Year."