Interview with Marianne Maduro
Media Credits: Andrea Terrero and Elaia Sainz
Photo Credits: Mateo Medina, Lucas Velarde, Carlen Arevalo, Leticia Bolaños, Olivia Garcia, Maria Jose Vega, Lizt Leon, Javier Vazquez, Marianne Maduro
Written by: Aliane Castillo-Diaz
“It is beautiful to have the opportunity to celebrate our diverse cultures, honor our heritage, and share it with others.”
This edition of Urbana Blogs on First-Generation leaders was chosen to highlight a successful Latina leader within our community and the Honors College's inner circle - offering insight to a leadership approach and distinct perspectives on life. Isn't that the beauty of cultural diversity? Different origins and experiences provide vital building blocks for fresh ideas and methods to address the leadership problems we all face.
Maduro earned an Associate's Degree in Psychology from MDC Kendall in 2001 before transferring to Florida International University and completing a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Anthropology in 2005 and a Master's Degree in Public Administration in 2018.
Maduro, 42, began working as an assistant to the dean of Miami Dade College's Honors College eight years ago. In 2010, she worked as a Corporate Social Responsibility Market Specialist at Bank of America. From 2011 through 2014, Maduro served as a Senior Programs Officer at The Miami Foundation, a local nonprofit. In 2021, she was named manager of the Wolfson Campus Teaching & Learning Center. While there, she worked on the Opening Gateways’ Grant, which focuses on mathematical success and emotional intelligence. Marianne Maduro started as the Honors College interim director at the Eduardo J. Padrón Campus on August 29, 2022.
With that, I asked Marianne Maduro, a caring advisor, and supporter, to join me in sharing some of her insights on the secrets of success, the significance of diversity in the educational community, and what she can offer to those aspiring leaders to aid them in achieving success.
Tell us about yourself.
"I am a first-generation Cuban-American- Miamian. Spanish is my first language, English is my dominant language, but Spanglish is what allows my full self-expression. I love this city and I love this community. My work has been largely focused on the public sector and community organizations. When I am not working, I am either enjoying time with my friends and family or spending time outdoors, tending to my garden, hiking trails, or birdwatching with my husband. I am slowly working towards obtaining my Florida Master Naturalist Land Steward certificate. I love to read, but not having much time to read at the moment, I take advantage of my commute time to listen to audio books. For the past couple of years, I’ve focused on reading books written by women, mostly women of color."
As a Latina female leader, can you tell us about the significance of diversity in the corporate world?
"Representation matters. It is important to see people that look like you in leadership positions because it helps you be able to see yourself there. It is inspirational to see someone and be able to say “Hey, I can do that too.” I don’t take for granted all of the Hispanic and female “firsts” who blazed trails for the rest of us to follow. The more diversity you have on a team, the broader the range of ideas and different perspectives. When I think about diversity I think about all the attributes that shape our experience as individuals in society. Women who have always stretched out a hand and brought me to the table and reminded me that I belong there when I have doubted myself. I am forever grateful for all the women in my life who have helped, guided, taught, inspired, and lifted me."
What are some of your favorite experiences working with Hispanic students in the past?
"When I came to work at The Honors College, in 2014, I thought I would be here for three to four years I have seen students come in shy, afraid to ask questions and develop into confident young adults paving their own path. I’ve watched that transformation happen in just 2 years over and over again. How lucky am I to be able to work at an institution that has that kind of life changing impact on my community?"
What do you think the most difficult thing is about being Hispanic in America?
"When I was younger, I saw myself as both Cuban and American, two separate identities. I never really felt fully Cuban since I had never even set foot on Cuban soil, but I also never really felt fully American. It has taken years for me to reconcile the two identities (Cuban and American) as simultaneously occurring and inextricably connected parts of me.
When I was in high school, I had a short-term position working at an insurance underwriting company as part of my work experience class. The office composition was predominantly white American male. I found myself negotiating which part of my identity I would bring to work with me. I also have a clear memory of being in a hotel pool with my friends when we were about 15 years old. One of my friend’s parents had rented a hotel room and invited us to stay. A group of adults asked us where we were from. They joked about our accents and asked something about whether our parents had gotten here rowing a boat. Again, because of my upbringing in a predominately Hispanic community, it took a minute for me to realize what was even happening. I never even knew I had an accent! My community, in which most people sounded like me and had similar home and family lives, was my American experience.
These are examples of situations that caused me to feel in a way less American or like a different type of American. Even though the employees at the insurance office didn’t intentionally try to make me feel like an outsider like the adults in the pool did, both situations had the same effect on me. Do I belong here? Is this opportunity meant for me? Am I (smart/strong/worthy/American) enough."
As a first-generation student, I take pride in being the first in my family to pursue higher education. Ever since I can remember, school has been my identity. I spent most of my life trying to impress the people around me with all A’s and an impressive resume so I could get into a good college. I feel as if many students can agree. Being a first generation student is a proud accomplishment. On the surface, it means we’re the first to earn a degree in our families. But on a more personal note, it means we’re one step closer to having the life our parents always dreamed for us. Sometimes, we feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. Having a “better life” isn’t about having a 4.0; it’s about letting ourselves live.
Before we’re a first-generation student, we’re human.