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Nearly 11,000 Miami Dade College Students Reach for the Stars on May 1

2010 Graduation students

Miami, April 26, 2010 - Representing more than a hundred countries, nearly 11,000 Miami Dade College (MDC) students will receive college degrees at seven commencement ceremonies May 1. Graduates will hear from several renowned keynote speakers including President William Jefferson Clinton, United States Senator George LeMieux (R-FL), Honduras’ President Porfirio Lobo Sosa, former Iowa United States Congressman and National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Jim Leach, Lumina Foundation President and CEO Jamie P. Merisotis, and others.

Meet some of this year’s stellar graduates:

Among many accomplishments, this year’s graduates are leaders in their communities. Barbara Cabrera of the Honors College at Kendall Campus served as Student Government President (SGA) and raised more than $5,000 for cancer research.  After graduating from high school summa cum laude, Cabrera said she turned down scholarships from several universities to obtain a more well-rounded education at MDC’s Honors College. She hopes to attend the University of Chicago and study law.   

Political science major, Yoel Lopez, has his sights set on a career in public service. In addition to his academic responsibilities, Lopez won the 2010 All-Florida Academic Team Award in the State of Florida and was named 2009 Student of the Year for Service Learning at the Hialeah Campus. He interned at the City of Hialeah Mayor’s Office, where he served as the liaison between the campus and Mayor’s Office on Educational Initiatives.

Wolfson CampusTravis L. Thomas wants to be a positive role model for his son. Growing up in an economically challenged area of Coconut Grove, Thomas said education was never a priority, but fatherhood became the motivation he needed. He worked hard, joined the National Society of Leadership and Success to stay focused and last year made the Dean’s List. His next goal is to study dentistry.

Where knowledge flourishes in college, love can bloom as well. Before Ashley Diaz began her studies at MDC’s West Campus, she wanted to pursue a career in psychology. Asiel Roque had his own plans to become a radiologist, but then their paths were merged. Now the couple of nearly two years, both members of SGA and Phi Theta Kappa, is graduating with biology degrees. They plan to attend a Leadership Alliance Summer Research Program at Yale University, Columbia University or the University of Miami.      

Family support can be crucial for a successful education. It was Aunt Betty Bennett who kept Michael Finch II on track while he attended Miami Central Senior High School, many times labeled an “F” school until MDC alumnus Principal Douglas P. Rodriguez and his team helped turn the school around in recent years. At MDC’s North Campus, Finch discovered The Falcon Times, the campus’ award-winning student newspaper. He rose from staff writer to news editor and changed his major to journalism. He’s applying to journalism schools throughout the country.

MDC students show determination leads to success. Yarylys Cardentey, the oldest of seven siblings, will be the first in her family to obtain a college degree a decade after first enrolling at the Homestead Campus. It is a momentous accomplishment for Cardentey, who has been attending school, working with middle school students who have special needs and raising her five children simultaneously. She is now a supervisor for the GEAR UP program at Homestead Middle School and wants to pursue a Bachelor of Science in exceptional student education at MDC.        

Heidi Lazcano, an Honors College student in the Dual Language Program at InterAmerican Campus, began working at the age of 12 to help her mother who has been battling a serious medical condition for years. She participated in the Washington Center Seminars and Presidential Inauguration in 2008, as well as the prestigious Salzburg Seminar. Lazcano has been accepted to Johns Hopkins University. 

At times, it’s the challenges in life that make the victory all the more significant. After her car was hit by a drunk driver in 2006, Medical Center Campus student Karyna Rosa had to learn to walk and talk again. Now, almost completely recovered, she will reach her dream of becoming a diagnostic medical sonographer. Rosa said having been on the patient side taught her to be more understanding and compassionate, qualities she plans to apply in her profession.   

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.