This semester two Green School students were named part of a small group of students across the university to be recognized as Worlds Ahead Graduates.
Alfredo Oballos Diaz was born and raised in Venezuela. Through his participation in Model UN competitions at the Universidad Santa María in Caracas, he appeared on national television criticizing Venezuela’s prison system.
Afterwards, he became the victim of political persecution.
In 2014 he fled to Miami, with his mother following a year later. Alfredo worked numerous jobs – from washing cars and waiting tables to working as a teller at Wells Fargo.
He earned his associate degree from Miami Dade College, interned at the Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce and enrolled at FIU as an Honors College student majoring in international relations.
While at FIU, Alfredo interned at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts and was a research assistant for one of his professors and mentors, Ralph Rosado.
Through the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s Global Leaders Fellowship program, Alfredo interned at the office of Congressman Darren Soto in Washington, D.C., where he worked on legislation that included a bill to extend Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans. He also learned about blockchain technology and enrolled in an online blockchain professional certificate at UC BerkeleyX.
Alfredo applied for jobs in D.C. and one week before his internship ended – and a few months before graduation – he landed a job at the Global Blockchain Business Council’s D.C. office.
Alfredo credits his mother for his success, as she worked various jobs at a time to help pay for his studies and supported him fully on his educational journey.
In high school, Kristina Labrada was a happy, energetic cheerleader and member of the homecoming court.
At 16, however, Kristina’s world came crashing down. Kristina was hospitalized for major depression. When she returned to school, friends turned away and other students bullied her for seeking mental health treatment and for the weight gain caused by medication.
For two years, she said she felt numb and as if she was “in a deep hole.” After she graduated from high school, she lost weight but suffered many setbacks – the murder of a good friend; knee surgery; a car accident that led to a difficult back surgery to remove a tumor that was benign, but if undetected could have left her paralyzed.
Kristina refused to give up. She got married and began working for the City of Miami, earning four promotions in five years. Good doctors and her family’s unwavering support helped her keep going, she said, especially her brother Danny, her role model; her grandmother Hilda, who always had a smile despite her own difficulties; her mother Maria, who raised Kristina on her own; and her husband Lander, with whom she has a 10-month-old daughter, Celine. She also credits her professor and mentor “Captain” Bill Press with helping her on her journey to healing.
Kristina, 28, is the first in her family to earn a university degree. She plans to continue working in human resources for the city and pursue her master’s in adult education and human resource development.