Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Student displaced by storm, struggles and perseveres with music

Communications major Jose Vargas, 22, came to the United States on Oct. 8 with a backpack full of all his belongings—two shirts and two pants—and two days later he started class at St. Thomas University. Jose is one of the 90 students from Puerto Rico and other hurricane-battered Caribbean islands that chose to resume their education at St. Thomas.

Jose came to Miami looking for the basic necessities many of us take for granted: running water, electricity and a roof over our heads. But, he also came for the opportunity to continue his education and his music career.

“I’ve been independently writing and producing music since the age of 15,” he said. “After Hurricane Irma it was hard to focus on what I loved the most, my music, but that changed the moment I stepped onto campus at St. Thomas.”

Shortly after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, St. Thomas University began offering free room and board for college students in Puerto Rico and affected islands who wished to continue their studies, and regain a sense of normalcy.

Jose took advantage of this opportunity, which allowed him to refocus on his education and music. Jose credits his dad for the exposure to the music business, and church for the inspiration to pursue his music dreams.

“My dad, Jose, has been in the music industry for years in Puerto Rico. He produced music events for people like Elvis Crespo, Grupo Manía, and Toño Rosario, to name a few.”

But, church is where he found his voice.

“I was sitting in church one day, and was inspired by the choir.”

Immediately after mass, he approached the priest and asked if he could sing with the choir. Soon after, he became a member of the choir and even learned to play several instruments including the piano, bass, and guitar.

His vocal and instrumental prowess can be heard on his first single “Tu lo Llenas Todo” available on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube.

And, in a few days, his newest single “Se Termino,” an ode to the brokenhearted, will be playing on the radio! He wrote “Se Termino” in his dorm room at St. Thomas’ in less than two days.

Jose is currently in the process of shooting the music video in Los Angeles, and a remix is also in the works.

Make sure to follow all his social media adventures and on Spotify: @vargasrhodes.

Friday, January 26, 2018

St. Thomas University breaks ground on Gus Machado School of Business

On Wednesday, Jan. 24, St. Thomas University (STU) broke ground on a brand new business school—The Gus Machado School of Business—thanks to the generous $5 million gift from South Florida business leader Gus Machado.

The ceremonial first shovel signified a major step in future of the state-of-the-art-complex, which will foster the growth of current and future St. Thomas business students.

“It is an honor to have The Machados be part of this transformative project,” said Monsignor Franklyn Casale, St. Thomas University president. “Our business programs have expanded to meet market demand, including new degree programs in Cyber Security Management and Trade and Logistics. This complex meets an important need of the growing business school, and with its many multipurpose uses it will make it be a hub where all students meet and exchange ideas.”

In her speech to the audience, Lilliam Machado stressed the importance of education.

“We wanted to give back, to invest in the future, in education because like Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ My husband and I are very positive that this will make a difference in the lives of many, many students and future generations here in Miami,” said Lilliam Machado.

Cuba native Gus Machado also stressed the importance of a good education and hard work.

“When students walk through the doors of the Gus Machado School of Business, I want them to feel inspired to be innovators in whatever they study; to be leaders for life,” said Gus Machado.

The new complex will include a trading room and a global conference auditorium. Housed in it will be the Center for Cybersecurity; the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; the Center for Sports Administration; and the Center for Trade and Logistics. The Gus Machado School of Business offers 21 different undergraduate degrees and 27 different graduate degrees.

St. Thomas expects the new building to open in 2019.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Groundbreaking ceremony for the new Gus Machado School of Business Complex

St. Thomas University will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new Gus Machado School of Business Complex.

The ceremony will be held at 12:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 24, at the future site of the new building, across the Saint Anthony Chapel on campus.

The new complex will have state-of-the-art classrooms with a robust technology infrastructure. It will include a trading room and a global conference auditorium. Housed in it will be the Center for Cybersecurity; the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; the Center for Sports Administration; and the Center for Trade and Logistics. The Gus Machado School of Business offers 21 different undergraduate degrees and 27 different graduate degrees.

Speakers include Msgr. Franklyn Casale, president of St. Thomas University; Gus and Lilliam Machado, South Florida business leaders and entrepreneurs; Jorge Rico, trustee and co-chair of the Gus Machado School of Business Advisory Board; and Dr. Somnath Bhattacharya, dean of the Gus Machado School of Business.

Gus Machado, a well-respected South Florida business leader and entrepreneur, generously gave the naming gift that makes this new building complex possible. Machado came from Cuba as a young man, became an American citizen, and worked hard to build an auto dealership company. He and his wife Lilliam gave the gift because they want to support the success of young people who come from modest backgrounds.

St. Thomas expects the new building to open in a year and a half.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

STU Alumnus brings book signing tour to Miami

Robert E. Constant '01

Robert E. Constant, a product of Miami Norland Senior High and a 2001 graduate of St. Thomas University, has written the first children’s book about the historic Tuskegee University, where he received his undergraduate education. “Hey Tuskegee!” follows two siblings as they relive the accomplishments of iconic African-Americans, including the university’s founder, Booker T. Washington.

Join Robert, during his book tour, at Barnes and Noble in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Saturday, January 27, 2018, at 1 p.m. He will be on hand for a reading and signing of his children’s book debut. STU caught up with Robert and asked him a few questions about his career and time at St. Thomas.

Tell us about your years at St. Thomas University.
My years at St. Thomas University were fantastic! I spent both years working full-time with the Florida Marlins, planning a wedding with then girlfriend and now wife of 18 years, and studying when I could! Those years were all a blur, but it was such an exciting time to be a part of the sports industry because many of my classmates were already working in the business with organizations and teams like the Marlins, Dolphins, Hurricanes, Panthers and the Orange Bowl Committee. Bringing that sort of experience to the classroom just enhanced our graduate school experience. This was clearly one of St. Thomas’ strengths as a Sports Administration program!

How has St. Thomas helped you in meeting your goals?
STU increased my ability to prioritize as I had a demanding work schedule, but moreover, the experience sharpened my ability in working collaboratively within small groups.

Tell us about your career journey and how you ended up where you are today.
My career journey has been an exciting an unpredictable ride as I have worked for several top universities, but also had the chance to work in professional sports. I never expected to find my way into University Advancement, however, many of the skills I gained in college and professional sports are highly valued as a professional fundraiser. When opportunity knocks you have to determine if the upside is greater than the risk. For me, I continue to believe that making the move to University Advancement has paid huge dividends in allowing me to leverage my skills in strategic planning, marketing, entrepreneurship, teamwork, fundraising and leadership.

So far, what accomplishments, both personally and professionally, are you most proud of and why?
Personally, nothing beats watching the birth of your children and having the opportunity to pass along everything you were taught. Professionally, starting the Regional Major Gift Program at Rutgers University and having a successful 9-year stint rising from the first ever Central Major Gift Officer to leading the Regional Major Gift team as the Associate Vice President.

What is your most memorable experience from when you were a student at STU?
Hands down, it was the night that former Director of Athletics at the University of Miami, Paul Dee, visited class in the middle of UM’s head football coach search. Hearing him describe the experience and how the press was literally following his every move put a lot of things in perspective for me. Given his role at the University of Miami and the time constraints that go with it, I was impressed that he cared enough to still visit our class and share some of his advice and wisdom with us. That moment just underscored the respect he had for the Sports Administration Program at St. Thomas and our very own, Dr. Jan Bell!

What advice would you give to current students and/or young alumni?
Current students and/or young alumni need to follow their heart and use their natural and gained skill sets to focus on opportunities that bring them the most joy! Whether you find a career interest or create something from scratch, always pursue your dreams with an obsession that drives you to seek excellence and a higher level of achievement.

Robert E. Constant is a senior level fundraising administrator with over 20 years of experience in higher education. After receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from Tuskegee University in 1998, Robert earned his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens in 2001.

Friday, January 5, 2018

New bike sharing program comes to St. Thomas University

On Wednesday, Jan. 10, lime green bikes will be taking over the STU campus! LimeBike, a new dock-less bike share program at St. Thomas, allows users to find, unlock, and rent bikes with their smartphones.

LimeBike will provide 120 bikes available for rental at various locations throughout campus, and there’s no kiosk docking station so bikes can be ridden anywhere and parked at any bike rack or designated bike parking area on campus.

The first five rides are free. After the promotional five free rides have been used, a 30-minute ride is only $.50 for STU students and employees who register using stu.edu email accounts.

A kickoff party will take place in the Convocation Hall, Jan. 10, at 12:15 p.m. On this day, bike rentals will be free of charge!

LimeBike provides a free app in the Google Play Store for Android users and the App Store for iPhone users. In the app you will find information on how to use the bikes, bike locations, promotions, and more.

*For security and safety concerns, we advise that bikes NOT be taken off campus after sundown.