Berkeley Today Stories
Berkeley College Leads International Business Student One Step Closer to American Dream
When Hector Cabrera was still in high school, his father was suddenly faced with deportation from the United States. After two years, his mom decided to return to the Dominican Republic with her husband of 35 years. He pleaded with his parents to let him stay in the country on his own, so that he could finish up his high school education with lifelong classmates. Now he is well on his way towards the completion of a Bachelor’s degree in International Business at Berkeley College.
Hector learned about Berkeley College through a friend who graduated a few years ago. When he began searching for his choices in higher education, Berkeley was one of the few schools at the time to offer a major in International Business. He decided to apply, and was accepted to the program - attending classes at the Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses in New York City, and at Berkeley College Online®.
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“I had to work many hours to make sure I could sustain myself, and because I was considered an adult when I started at Berkeley College, financial aid required me to apply independently which made it harder for me to afford tuition,” Hector explained. “The financial aid department and Campus Operating Officers (COOs) really helped make it financially possible for me to attend, and complete my Bachelor’s, which I am very thankful for.”
Living the American Dream
Born and raised in the suburbs of Delaware, Hector and his three older siblings attended school at Red Lion Christian Academy, from pre-school to ninth grade. Hector’s parents first migrated permanently to the United States, where they lived in New York City for nine years. They opened a car dealership - exporting cars to Central America and the Caribbean islands, and later made Delaware their place to call home. A lot of things changed after his father had to leave, and as a sophomore, Hector had to transfer to the public school system, where he graduated from Middletown High School.
It was his childhood experience that enabled him to see the barriers, and problems that his parents had to go through. His interest in International Business sparked during the early teen years. “My parents really gave me the foundation, drive, and morals of who I am today, and still want to grow as,” he said. “Even with the unfortunate circumstances, our family has managed to stick together, and help support one another.”
International Business at Berkeley
One of the features in the International Business program at Berkeley that really stood out to Hector, is that the curriculum really gives students a sense of every major in the business background. “I was able to learn finance, management, as well as marketing techniques - not only here in America, but also in different countries all over the world. I believe that the student/teacher ratio is just right! The ratio was anywhere from 25-30 students for most of my classes, this allows the professor to give students the attention they need, but also allows students to work together when challenging assignments are given,” he said. “Most professors have real-world experience which allows you to learn from someone who can give you knowledge and how these issues that you might be studying may arise in the workplace.”
Career readiness and internship opportunities
During his time at Berkeley College, Hector has had the opportunity to meet with the chairman of Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and provide a favorable impression for future career possibilities. He also landed his very first internship opportunity, with Ai Media Group in New York City. “My responsibility as an intern is to strategically manage client’s media planning for a company that specializes in digital ad marketing. This internship has actually made me want to broaden what I initially wanted to do as a career because I really find the marketing portion of business to be very interesting. I have been in my internship for about three weeks now, so I am still learning. Even so, Ai Media has shown me that they are interested in hiring me post-graduation.”
Overcoming obstacles in college and life
At age 20, Hector moved to Philadelphia, and through that decision, he met his two of his greatest mentors. “I’ve always looked up to John Spagnola because of how he was able to build his career – from an NFL athlete for the Philadelphia Eagles, to holding one of the top-level positions at the high-end Public Financial Management firm,” he said. “This inspires me to realize you can build from any point in your life, but it’s up to you to take the initiative. John has always given me the comfort of knowing I can count on him for education and career advice.”
Hector has known James Mclendon III since he was 18 years old. “James has a great relationship with my family, and has been supportive throughout all of these years. He has been working with Merrill Lynch for more than 15 years, and has a great network and passion in non-profit organizations,” Hector added. “We relate in our spirituality, and he has always reminded me of where I came from – especially during the times when I question myself, or lose track of where I’m going. He has really been a life coach to me and pushes me to see beyond my reach.”
As a current college student who has faced his own challenges, Hector encourages other peers to take their time - not to rush. “Make sure you push to finish with good grades no matter what course it is,” he said. “Finally, make sure to take advantage of all the resources you have available at Berkeley. They have helped me with financial aid and scholarships, great tutors to help with difficult courses, and career counselors who will help polish your resume before you start applying for work. Anyone who may be going through something similar, don’t be scared to speak up and ask for help. You have many resources and faculty who would love to help and direct you to the assistance you need.”