Antonia Pantoja was born in 1922 in Puerta de Tierra, Puerto Rico. She completed a two year normal school diploma at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and taught for two years in Puerto Rico. She migrated to the U.S. in 1944 to New York City where she worked as welder, enduring long hours and hard work, while experiencing the racism and discrimination facing the Puerto Rican community. She became an activist in the factory she was working, providing her fellow workers with information about their rights and how to form a union. She applied for and received a scholarship to Hunter College, CUNY, where she completed her B.A. in 1952, and later an M.S.W. and a Ph.D. Within Puerto Rican communities Pantoja is best known as a founder of ASPIRA (1961), a Puerto Rican youth organization that sought to support the positive development of Puerto Rican youth in New York City and to improve their educational experiences in the New York City Public Schools. Pantoja first became active in New York community affairs in the 1950s and her moment of ascendancy in leadership and community activism occurred simultaneously with the period of the Great Puerto Rican Migration, a period marked by significant social upheaval for the masses of Puerto Ricans who migrated, the majority to New York City. Pantoja was an early student, practitioner and teacher of community organizing. In 1996 Pantoja was recognized with a Presidential Medal of Honor for her work with ASPIRA. She is the author of several academic articles on community development. Her first and only book, Memoirs of a Visionary, The Autobiography of Antonia Pantoja, joins a small but growing corpus of autobiography by U.S.-based Puerto Ricans. Dr. Pantoja passed away in 2002.