Photo: CUNY Malave Leadership Academy graduation ceremony, held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on May 10th, 2019.
I am an immigrant, an uncle, and a husband currently working in the Healthcare sector for about five years, and this is my story.
I come from a humble beginning where I used to farm the land and milk cows. My hometown, best described as a small village located in rural areas of the province of Limon, Costa Rica. My passion for thinking, solving problems, and learning lead me to study mathematics, computer science, and education. My graduation was in 2002 from the Technological Institute of Costa Rica.
Professionally, I was a Mathematics teacher in a high school for about a year. Then, I decided to move to America and experience diverse life-changing adventures at age 22. Right after my arrival, I quickly realized the challenges ahead of me; one of the biggest, my fluency in English. I knew how to read and write well in English, but I was not as fluent in oral communication.
Based on these challenges, I decided to immerse myself by listening, reading, and speaking only in English. My approach was to minimize my Spanish communication and accept correction from many individuals, who provided great feedback based on my many failed language attempts. At the time, I had not yet found a mentor who could help guide me. This limitation inspired me to find a great role model to follow and
In the meantime, I studied many topics on my own. I am self-taught in many areas. And it was thanks to this never-ending quest for personal growth and development that lead me to discover something innovative at the time […] Data Science. When I realized that my passion involved all the elements that a data scientist possessed, I kept looking in multiple directions trying to find that missing link. It was CUNY SPS, the one answer I got to my questions. By now, 15 years had passed since the last time I set foot in a classroom.
Becoming a Master’s student was not an easy task. I was not working in the field; I had a 15-year gap and a Spanish education. It took me a year to complete my con-validation process. Once complete, CUNY fully recognized my Bachelor’s degree. Also, my acceptance to CUNY SPS became contingent upon taking and passing a one-month intensive program known as The Bridge. These Bridge courses are intended to refresh one’s knowledge and skills but are not meant for individuals who are learning these topics for the first time.
Today, after two and a half years of endless hours in front of a computer screen, I am currently enrolled in my last class: “Analytics Master’s Research Project.” Thanks to my decision to join CUNY SPS, I have participated in diverse leadership events and advocated for CUNY students with many legislators and representatives in Albany and Washington D.C.; visited the United Nations headquarters and learn about the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030; promoted solutions to real-world problems with social impact change with IBM; and learned the importance of volunteering and giving back. The most fundamental takeaway from this process is that I have gained practical communication skills with a leadership vision on a global scale. I made hundreds of new friends and professional contacts around the globe, and I have gotten access to the latest discoveries that humanity has ever made or built in this era.
I find it fascinating that in a matter of only two and a half years my learning experiences, way of thinking and problem-solving abilities have evolved so much. My only wish was that it did not take 16 years for this process to start.
I am genuinely grateful for the opportunities I have received and for past experiences, and I have to thank everyone who made an impact on making it possible. Thus, the reason why I am back to school after 16 years. I hope this story helps others get inspired, overcome fears, and pursue their dreams.
If you would like to know more about my story, you can watch episode 63 from the podcast “At The End Of The Day.”