"Education Changed Everything
Born and raised in Miami among a diverse population of Caribbean immigrants. Many considered me to be one of the lucky ones - after being accepted to attend a magnet program at South Miami Middle School located across the county from where I lived.
It's true that I discovered a whole new world. I built strong relationships and was exposed to neighborhoods that did not struggle with the same burdens shouldered by communities like my own. I began to envision a different future for my own neighborhood and promised myself that I would take my new perspective back to a high school in our inner-city, in order to build our schools up with similar programs which give every kid a chance to achieve a better future.
"I BEGAN TO ENVISION A DIFFERENT FUTURE FOR MY OWN NEIGHBORHOOD"
Once in high school, some of my friends and I became laser-focused on making our mark by focusing on winning a award that would show the whole county we were just as gifted as everyone else. We just needed the same opportunities and resources. I was stunned when our goal was realized and my name was called as a recipient of the distinguished Miami Herald Silver Knight Award, an honor rarely bestowed upon a kid from an inner-city school like mine. After college, I experienced success climbing the professional ladder in retail management with respected companies like Target and Nike. Soon after, I transitioned to the world of sports entertainment and began making tracks in the National Football League and Players Association, assisting with coordinating events from the NFL Draft to Superbowl Week.
"Time for a Change"
However, after President Barack Obama was re-elected, I took stock of my life and despite my professional success - I realized something was lacking. I started to feel that familiar pull from the skinny high school kid who fought to create safe playgrounds in Miami, and decided I had to do something bigger, and more meaningful with my life. So, I enrolled in graduate school at FIU where I earned my M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration to pursue the next chapter of my journey. Over the last decade, I have served our community working in the Higher Education, Nonprofit and Performing Arts/Spectator Sports industry.
“People were pouring life into my dreams”
Looking back on my childhood, I still marvel at how my mother was able to juggle it all. She always managed to provide for me and my sister. I also realize how much support I received from my teachers and my community. The education that made my early success possible would have been completely unattainable without my strong mother, public schools, public transportation, and the support of my family and friends. Without public funding for systems and programs that help lift people above life’s obstacles, what chance does a poor kid from one of our neighborhoods in Miami have?
"Serving the Community that Made Me"
Today, I am more determined than ever to continue to give back to the community that made me who I am. From co-founding my local neighborhood association, volunteering as a Citizen-on-Patrol with the Miami Police Department, using my Activist skills to advocate for the passage of the Miami Forever Bond, and as a Mentor to our youth. My passion is fueled by a love of my community, and a deep sense of gratitude for all that my city has given to me.
Image of Michael Hepburn, M.Ed.