Florida National Alumna Ms. Mary C. Gomez “… is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1968 to escape from the communist regime and give their 12 year old daughter a better life. Mary was born within two years of her parents arriving in the United States. Mary was born in Bronx, New York to hardship and economic struggle. Her parents relocated to Hialeah, Florida when Mary was 5 years old. Her parents worked multiple jobs in a factory and as janitors to give her a good education and instill in her an honest work ethic. Throughout college Mary worked full time in a law firm, first as a receptionist and then a legal secretary. In law school Mary worked as a Law Clerk, her second and third year. Mary’s life and professional experience have molded her into a compassionate, fair and ethical legal professional.”
Currently, Ms. Gomez is running for Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge. The election will be held on August 26, 2014. Ms. Gomez took time from her very busy schedule to share with us about her humble beginnings, her educational and professional background and how Florida National University was able to help her open the doors to her future.
So you were born in New York and grew up in Miami, which high school did you attend?
I attended Hialeah Miami Lakes Senior High, but because I got married while still in high school and had to work full time, I had to quit school. Florida National allowed me the opportunity to work on my Associate Degree while pursuing my high school diploma. If it weren’t for that I probably would not have gone to college.
How did you find out about Florida National University? Why did you choose FNU?
I found out about Florida National University, which was Florida International College back then, because I lived very close to it. I did not have an automobile at the time as my husband and I shared one, so I needed a place I could walk to. My work was within walking distance as well. I was working fulltime during the day so I needed a flexible program that I could study in the evenings and on weekends. When I went in to inquire about the classes, everyone was very attentive and welcoming. They did not make me feel bad because I had stopped attending high school. The school used to be located in the upstairs section of a shopping center on 12th Avenue if I am not mistaken. This was around 1988.
What was your major?
I received an Associate Degree from Florida National in Paralegal Studies in 1989.
Do you have an advanced degree?
Yes, I have Juris Doctorate’s Degree, Summa Cum Laude from Nova Southeastern University, 1995.
Aside from being an FNU student, you came back as a professor. Can you tell us why you decided to teach at FNU?
I would love to share why I decided to teach at FNU. Basically, I wanted students to see me as an FNU success story and get inspired. I am big on encouraging and empowering others. I saw the opportunity to teach at FNU as a way to pay it forward. I wanted my students to see first hand that if I could realize my dream and career goals being an FNU graduate, then they too can reach as high as they want. A lot of people think, “…well if I can’t go to a big college or university, then I will settle for a school like FNU…” I have often heard people say that when you go to a school like FNU, that it closes doors on bigger opportunities. That FNU is like a technical school. Obviously, we know that that is not the case and I want others to know that as well. Not just hear it in a commercial but see if up close and personal. I am sure like me; there are many other FNU success stories. Frankly, I see my achievements as an attorney and the opportunity to run for Circuit Court Judge, as not only an accomplishment for me personally but a reflection of FNU, which is where I got my start.
Why did you decide to become a judge?
Being a judge is something that I always dreamed of being, but I was too afraid to pursue. I do not come from a wealthy or well-known family. I have devoted my 18 years as an attorney to representing low to middle income clients. Therefore, I am not able to personally finance a political campaign. I first started seriously considering it in 2004. It was not until July of 2013 that I put in my official papers to run for the office of Circuit Court Judge. I have a passion for justice and the Rule of Law. I believe in fairness, impartiality and equality. We may not have a perfect legal system in this country, but it is the best one we have; and it is better than most other countries’ system. I would like the opportunity to bring my skills to the bench to help perpetuate these ideals. I have been a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator since 2006 and the Special Master for the Town of Miami Lakes since August 2011. These positions have helped me develop and improve upon skills that will prove beneficial on the bench.
What can you tell us about the campaign?
As for the campaign, the election will be held on August 26th, 2014. It is a county wide race which means anyone registered to vote in Miami-Dade County can vote. I am running for open seat in Group 27. An open seat means that the Judge who currently holds the position is retiring at the end of his term. So I am not looking to unseat an incumbent. However,
although the seat is open, at the present time I have one opponent. His name is Alberto Milian.
Contributions to my campaign can be made online at www.gomez4judge.com or via check made payable to Mary Gomez, Campaign Account and mailed to: PO Box 4278, Hialeah, FL 33014.
Thank you. Anything else you would like to say to the FNU Community?
Thank you FNU for the opportunity to address the FNU Community and don’t forget to vote for me, Mary Gomez for Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge, on August 26, 2014.