Miami Dade College Alumnus Named Merrill Presidential Scholar, Headed to Princeton University

MIAMI, May 18, 2016 – Miami Dade College (MDC) alumnus Andy Alfonso has been selected as a Merrill Presidential Scholar, which will be officially awarded at a dinner Tuesday, May 24, at Cornell University. As a scholar, Alfonso can invite a professor who inspired him and contributed to his success. He chose Dr. Rosany Alvarez, mathematics professor at MDC InterAmerican Campus.

“Having a student win an award like this has made me proud beyond words,” Dr. Alvarez said. “I was so honored when I received Andy’s email with the news that he had won the Merrill Presidential Scholar Award and that he had selected me to attend. Watching your students succeed and achieve such great things is one of the reasons I love what I do.”

Alfonso just completed a bachelor’s degree in literature from Cornell University. It’s a huge achievement for a young man who arrived from Cuba just five years ago and felt intimidated speaking a new language. At MDC, where he graduated in 2014, he received the coveted MDC Board of Trustees Scholarship and the President’s Volunteer Service Award for tutoring his peers in math, chemistry, physics, and English. He served as president of the National Society of Leadership and Success and vice president of Leadership and Scholarships in MDC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He also took part in the Harvard-MDC Latino Leadership Retreat and Honors College Salzburg Seminar. In addition, he worked on MDC fundraisers, including TECHO to build homes in impoverished areas and Knit Into Love to help those with cancer.

Dr. Alvarez, recipient of the 2014 Carnegie Foundation/CASE Florida Professor of the Year award, first met Alfonso in her Honors Calculus I class during his first semester at the InterAmerican Campus’ acclaimed Dual Language Honors College Program. She remembers he was a standout student.

“He impressed me immediately. I think he impressed all of his professors,” Dr. Alvarez added. “He started out as a math major, then changed to neurosciences and finally upon transferring to Cornell completed his bachelor’s in literature. I asked him if his doctorate would be in mathematics (I am always hopeful) and he said ‘You never know, but for now it will be literature.’”

Alfonso has been accepted at Princeton University where he plans to pursue a doctorate in literature.