1960 is the year that changed my life and perhaps yours, too. The year symbolizes freedom and opportunity – for myself, my family, and for two million of us throughout South Florida.
It was the year that my family and I emigrated to the United States from our home in Cuba to escape communism. I was only 13 years old at the time. Within a week of arriving in the US, my father sat down my brothers and I and said: “Always be proud of where you came from. Be proud that you are Cuban. Be proud that you are Hispanic. But this, the US, is your new country. Assimilate, learn the language, learn the values, and you are going to be an American now. That was hard to hear for a 13-year-old who could not speak English. It was not until later in life that I fully understood my father’s clarity of thinking and what the move would mean for my future.
1960 was also the founding year of Miami Dade College. MDC opened its doors to 1,428 students. Fifty-seven years later, it is renowned for keeping those doors open for two million South Floridians who have found educational opportunity to pursue their dreams.
To put it plainly, 1960 was the year that the American Dream opened up for so many of us.
I am very grateful for the open doors I found at Miami Dade College, affording me the opportunity to go to college and pave the way for my future when no other college would take me.
After completing my associate degree at MDC in 1967, I went on to pursue a BS, MBA and law degree from the University of Florida. I am proud to have built my career in Miami, where I have practiced securities, corporate and international law for more than three decades and led the law firm of Greenberg Traurig for over 20 years. But, my passion is not limited to the law. I am committed to giving back to the community that gave me my start.
As we celebrate Miami Dade College’s history and tradition of providing educational opportunity for all who seek it, I am proud to declare “I AM MDC.” MDC, in my view, is the secret that makes our unique multi-ethnic and multi-cultural community work so well. MDC is the only institution of higher learning in our community that gives everyone, and I mean everyone, a chance to achieve and succeed. It did that for me. But equally important, the classrooms and hallways of MDC are where we all learn that others from different ethnic, cultural and financial backgrounds are human beings, just like us, and that they have the same aspirations and hopes for their families and children as we do. It unites us. MDC is where our sense of unique community starts!
Learn more about the MDC Office of Alumni Relations at www.mdc.edu/alumni