The FNU’s 2011 Commencement Guest Speaker, Hiram A. Paz, Esq, had his roots at Florida National University and was an inspiration to all those present.
Hiram A. Paz was born and raised in Santa Clara, Cuba. He arrived to the United States on May 7, 2002, a few weeks before turning 18. In June 2002, Hiram enrolled in Florida National University while he was also finishing his senior year of high school. Hiram received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science with a second major in Philosophy from Florida International University in May 2007. After receiving his Juris Doctorate from Florida International University College of Law in December 2010, Hiram passed the February 2010 Florida Bar and is currently a licensed attorney practicing primarily in the areas of personal injury and criminal law.
Good afternoon, My name is Hiram Paz. I am a former Florida National University student, and today, it is my pleasure and privilege to be a speaker in your graduation ceremony. I want to start by thanking the Florida National University administration and giving a very in special thank you to Maria Cristina Regueiro for giving me this opportunity. It is a true honor to be here today, and to be able to share such a special moment for you and for Florida National University.
Today, I want to talk about things that I believe are important. I do not want to be remembered as that boring speaker in your graduation, although that may be the case, but rather as someone who had a message worth listening to.
The first thing I want to talk to you about today is about DREAMS. For each one of you graduating today, a dream is coming true, one way or another. I submit to you, that in life it is very important to always follow your dreams. I know I have followed
I got to this country just a few days before turning 18, and my dream had always been to become an attorney. Most people thought, and some even told me that it was impossible, and that at my age and with my language barrier, I should not even try. However, I decided to never let anyone discourage me, and I pushed on, trying to achieve that dream. Because I decided to do so, after nine years in this country, I find myself here talking to you, as a lawyer, and I am very proud to say that my journey began at Florida National University. When I talk to you about dreams, I am also talking about perseverance, and about never letting anyone or anything discourage you.
I am sure for many of you here, your dreams are directly connected with your education. Education is a wonderful and empowering tool. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” By embarking on your voyage in Florida National University, you have refined that silver, and have received tools that are imperative in new careers. I encourage you, if it is your dream, to continue your education and create the finest silver you can.
I am also very pleased to see how Florida National University each day takes a step forward in fulfilling a dream, making a difference, and becoming one of best institutions for higher education in South Florida. Many of you are receiving your associate’s degrees
today and thus becoming professionals, ready to go out and practice in your chosen areas. Some others are already receiving your bachelor’s degrees, thus, joining your chosen professions with significant expertise. I also have the vision that some years from today, Florida National University will be already offering graduate programs. I encourage you today to dream, to forget about the economy and to forget about all other negative thoughts, and to set out to achieve the goals that you have envisioned with your new degrees.
Just as you have those that doubted you and you tried to prove them wrong, it is important to always remember those who pushed you and believed in you.
This brings to the second thing I wanted to talk about with you today: GRATITUDE.
Today all of you celebrate a very important milestone in your lives. You all have worked very hard, and have come a long way to make it to this point. However, you did not do it alone. You see you were the ones who read those books, who came to class, and took those exams. You were the ones who had to juggle working a job, sometimes two, and come to school. Some of you were also the ones who had to combine school with raising your children and taking care of your families. That is amazing. Yet along the way, you received the support of your parents, your spouse, and everyone who cares about you.
Just like that, my story is similar to yours. Thanks to years of hard work and perseverance I graduated from law school, passed the Florida Bar, and became an attorney. However, there is no doubt in my mind that a huge part of the reason I made it, was because of my parents, the rest of my family, and also, Florida National University.
When I arrived to this country in early May of 2002, it must have sounded crazy that my goal was to become a lawyer. However, my parents always believed in me. Florida National University Jose Regueiro, believed in me as well. So less than two months after my arrival, I was given the opportunity to attend Florida National University and started taking my first college classes with Doctor Febles. It has been a long road, and there is still a lot more ahead, I hope, in my career, but it all began in here.
So today, I want to thank my mom and my dad, for always being there for me. I want to thank my grandma, and my girlfriend for always being so great and so supportive. I want to thank the Florida National University family, for opening to me the doors of education in this country, and for showing me the way. I want to also for the first time, personally thank Dean Jorge Alfonzo and Academic Affairs Vice-president Caridad Sanchez, because one day they also believed in me, and wrote me recommendation letters to law school.
Today, I encourage you, to the same thing, and go back and show your gratitude to all of those who are also responsible for your achievements.
Lastly, I would like to leave you with a thought about SUCCESS. A wise professor of mine once asked us what that word SUCCESS meant to us, and as it is to be expected, the answers were significantly different. Just as I am sure, they are different in this room. For some of you, success is a day like today, a day where a new professional career begins. Or maybe success is becoming one of the best in your chosen fields. For others, success is being able to attend every one of the
events important in your children’s life. For several of you it may be to combine career and family and be the best you can be at both. In my opinion, success is all about enjoying the journey.
My very wise professor gave us a brand new key, a key that had no indentations. He told us that this key was blank so that we could make the marks, so that we could build our own definition of success, our own journey.
Today, I have provided all of you with a plain key as well, a key that symbolizes your new degrees, that you can fill in with your own dreams, your own definitions of success, and that you can mold into the key that will open the doors that you want to open; much like by attending Florida National University you opened the doors to your education and your future.
I want to leave you all with that last message, whatever you decide to do with your new careers, whether it is to pursue a higher degree, or to get a new and better job, I
encourage you to always enjoy your journey and to fill in the blanks with your own definition of success.
Congratulations to everyone of you graduating today, and to Florida National University for all of its recent achievements.
I wish you all the best of luck in your journey to finding your definition of success. Congratulations!