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Miami Dade College Student Juan Valdes Wins 2014 Francisco Foundation Scholarship


Pictured from left to right: Senator and Miami-Dade Commissioner Senator Javier D. Souto, MDC student Juan Valdes and MDC College Provost for Operations Dr. Rolando Montoya

Miami, April 28, 2014 - In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Miami Dade College (MDC) student Juan Elias Valdes has been committed to helping communities in Miami and abroad. Exemplifying what it means to be an all-around leader and passionate advocate for others, he is the winner of the 2014 Francisco Foundation Scholarship Award.

“When I received the call that I won, I broke down in tears,” said Valdes, a 19-year-old history major at the Wolfson Campus’ Honors College. “It is incredible to me that I would have the privilege to be selected to win this scholarship, and for that I am forever grateful to God, my family, my faculty, my friends, the foundation, and MDC for giving me this opportunity.“

The Francisco Foundation selects a student for the $2,500 scholarship annually on the basis of demonstrated leadership, community service, academic excellence, and a love of democracy and freedom.

In addition to exceling academically, Valdes has been active in various campus student clubs and community programs. Since 2013, he’s served as president of the Wolfson campus’ Wesley Bible Club, as treasurer and ambassador of the History Club and a math tutor. In November, Valdes coordinated a fundraiser for the Mission to Haiti Banquet in Weston, which raised over $23,000 to help provide food and health and education needs to over 4,000 children in Haiti.

His future aspirations are to work in education and politics. “I want to educate people and push for reform that will truly benefit people and promote education and sustainability,” said Valdes. “I believe that understanding how we got to the point we are at now is the key to being able to fix today’s problems such as global climate change and the ever-widening wealth gap. My ultimate aspiration is to equip my generation and the generation after to be able to make the world a better place.”

Valdes’ passion for history and his family’s Cuban heritage has also inspired him to write a book about Cuba’s history and the Cuban patriots who went underground against the Castro regime. 

The Francisco Foundation Scholarship was created in honor of Rogelio “Francisco” Gonzalez Corzo, who was executed by Fidel Castro’s regime in 1961 when he was 28 years old for his attempts to subvert the dictatorship. He was the head of the underground anti-Castro resistance effort called “Movement to Recover the Revolution.”

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino Florin, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Kai Hill, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366,, 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.
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