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A Look Back at Miami Dade College’s 2014

This piece was published in the Miami Dade College student newspaper, The Reporter. It’s part of a series of articles I wrote for them between August 2013 and May 2015, now being uploaded in whole to ElMonzon.com.


A stellar athletic year, an array of cultural events and a host of new College programs made 2014 a productive year for Miami Dade College.

In September, MDC President Eduardo Padrón announced $21 million in grant funding from a variety of public and private sources. Some of these grants included $10 million from the Department of Labor to fund the establishment of a Training and Certification program in Manufactured Construction, a $100,000 grant from Citi Foundation to expand the Small Business Education Program/Grow Miami Initiative and a $50,000 award from AT&T to expand the College’s pre-college advisement programs to ten local high schools.

At the Wolfson Campus, a $2.18 million grant from the Knight Foundation facilitated the Idea Center, an entrepreneurial hub meant to promote student startups and business ideas.

“[We want to] build the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to all students,” said Idea Center executive director Leandro Finol.

The College initiated a new bachelor’s program in information systems technology and supply chain management. The College’s School of Entertainment and Design Technology at North Campus also expanded their bachelor’s degree offerings. John Rhames, a former detective and patrol officer at the Riviera Beach Police Department in Palm Beach County, took over as chief of North Campus Public Safety.

The Book Fair featured a new Florida-centric venue called The Swamp featured events like a conversation between musical icons Questlove and George Clinton and a community outreach project entitled #6WordsMiami. Visitors also saw a piece of the Berlin Wall donated to Wolfson campus by the City of Miami on the 25th anniversary of the dismantling of the Wall.

The College’s Entrepreneurial Education Center, or Meek Center, renovated its library with new computers and newly organized workspaces. Workers completed Hialeah Campus’ seven-floor parking garage featuring more than 1,000 parking spaces and a community multi-purpose room.

“The garage is very aesthetically pleasing and welcoming in its design,” Hialeah Campus President Mattie Roig-Watnik told The Reporter last year.

The baseball and women’s volleyball teams had strong seasons. Head baseball coach, Danny Price, was named the Regional Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association for the National Junior College Athletic Association following his 1,200th victory on March 22nd, when the Sharks defeated Palm Beach State College 14-6.

Student life across all campuses offered diverse programming including MDC>AIDS Initiative, a partnership between the College and the Greater than AIDS Campaign.

“On World AIDS Day, all campuses held awareness events to distribute the materials and campaign paraphernalia to students,” said Crystel Lewis, director of Student Life at the InterAmerican Campus. “The morning began with a [livestreamed] lecture by [AIDS United, Inc. President & CEO], Dr. Michael Kaplan … free HIV testing was also held at each campus.”

Vice President Joe Biden addressed one of the largest graduating classes at the Kendall Campus Gymnasium for their commencement ceremony. He recognized the difficult circumstances that many of students present overcame in their studies.

“America is on the cusp of so many innovations that will change the world, and you’re gonna be part of it,” Biden told the crowd.