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College Forum Volume 16, Number 5 : Page 2

ALUMNI news Where the Story Begins Award-Winning Writers’ Literary Journeys Started at MDC Nilo Cruz Lin Arison M iami Dade College has helped cultivate some of the most talented, successful minds across all academic disciplines and industries, and literature is no exception. Dozens of acclaimed authors and writers are proud to call MDC a place of inspiration that helped foster their talents and passion and offered critical support on their path to success through creative expression. Road to a Pulitzer For award-winning playwright, screenwriter, professor and MDC Hall of Fame alumnus Nilo Cruz, inspiration came in the form of a play, where he had an epiphany and found his calling. He immediately enrolled at Miami Dade College to study theater. “It didn’t take long for my teacher to identify the writer in me and tell me that I must write plays,” Cruz said. Nurturing his talent, his drama professor incited him to go study with legendary Cuban playwright María Irene Fornés in New York City, which propelled him to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree at Brown University, studying under noted American playwright Paula Vogel. Now a Pulitzer Prize and a Steinberg Best New Play Award winner for his play Anna in the Tropics and recipient of the 2009 PEN/ Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a distinguished American playwright in mid-career, Cruz ’ s life is the stuff Broadway dreams are made of. “I found my voice as a writer in New York, but MDC showed me the way there,” said Cruz, whose play A Bicycle Country recently opened at New York’s Theater for a New City. He is also busy penning an opera commissioned by world-famous soprano Renée Fleming. Paying Opportunity Forward Philanthropist and author Lin Arison is well aware of the crucial role inspiration plays in the arts. She has drawn plenty of it from her life experiences as the basis for her books, including Travels with Van Gogh and the Impressionists: Discovering the Connections and Feast for the Senses: A Musical Odyssey in Umbria . Arison’s writing has reaped the fruits of her inextricable ties to the artistic community – and her community college. “When I went back to school at 32, Miami Dade College opened up my life and gave me the way to think,” Arison said. She attests it was in one of MDC’s programs where she first discovered the “Learn by Doing” system that resulted in her first book, Love Story in Mediterranean Israel . Her mythology class served as the foundation from which she developed critical thinking skills by observing 2 COLLEGE forum a professor who “didn’t pretend From Student that she knew everything and to Professor encouraged me to research the For author, MDC alumnus answers for myself. and Professor Eton Geoffrey “I discovered the practical Philp, inspiration and answers to a fuller life at MDC,” community go hand in hand. added Arison. As co-founder of the A native of Jamaica, he grew up National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and the world-renowned New Eton Geoffrey Philp in a close-knit community. When he immigrated as a young writer to the World Symphony orchestral academy, United States in 1979, Philp never alongside her late husband, Ted Arison, imagined that he’d encounter a community like founder of Carnival Cruise Lines, Lin, now 75, the one he had left behind. But he did. has experienced the power of inspiration as “The first time I heard the phrase from one of a writer and arts benefactor. She is currently my professors at MDC, ‘We’re a family and we working on her fourth book and was recently look out for each other,’ I didn't believe him,” awarded the 2012 National Arts Award by the Philp said. “But at every stage of my academic prestigious Americans for the Arts. career, MDC has helped me with the three essentials of a writer’s life: income, time and support.” Philp’s close connection with the College has also enriched his family life. He met his wife Numerous writers of praiseworthy novels, at MDC, which their two children now attend, short stories, plays, poetry and nonfiction and he currently teaches English and creative embarked on their literary journeys at MDC, writing at the College ’ s North Campus, where including: he is the College Prep department chair. • Liz Balmaseda: Pulitzer Prize-winning MDC also has influenced his writing. In journalist and author of books including I Am several of his works, he has drawn upon people My Father’s Daughter: Living a Life Without and places from campus life to explore the Secrets and Sweet Mary: A Novel themes of individuality, family and community • James Carlos Blake: Critically acclaimed in a Miami setting. novelist and essayist and author of Country of “As the years get closer to my retirement,” the Bad Wolfes , The Pistoleer and In the Philp said, “I can truly say that I am grateful Rogue Blood , among many others for all that the College has done for me, • Johnny Díaz: Award-winning journalist and and I believe with all my heart our credo: author of Miami Manhunt , Take the Lead , ‘Opportunity changes everything.’” Boston Boys Club , Beantown Cubans and – HP The Purging of My Heart • Manny Díaz: Former Miami mayor and author of Miami Transformed: Rebuilding America One Neighborhood, One City at a Time • Emilio Estefan: Celebrated musician, producer and author of works including The Rhythm of Success: How an Immigrant Produced His Own American Dream • Paul George: MDC professor, noted local Published by Miami Dade College, Office of Communications 300 N.E. Second Ave., Miami, FL 33132-2296 historian and author of The Dr. Paul George Send e-mails to Walking Tour of East Little Havana Communications Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Juan C . Mendieta • Andrea Nugent: Nonprofit founder, speaker Marketing Communications Director . . . . . . . . .Irene Giménez Muñoz and author of Mommy Is Still Mommy: Editorial Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dr . Brenda Krebs Cancer Can’t Change That Copy Editors/Contributors . . . . . Monica Roos, Anne-Margaret Swary • Mirta Ojito: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Graphic Designers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pasita Andino, Reynaldo Arroyo, and author of Finding Mañana: A Memoir of Catalina Figueras, Grizelle Paz-Harrison, Shari Robbins a Cuban Exodus and contributor to The Exile Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hector Pino, René Ramos, Stephanie Rodríguez, Walter Villa Experience: Journey to Freedom Photographers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Siulan Chin, Cristian Lazzari, • Carmen Reinhart: Harvard professor, noted Carlos Llano, Joe Ricco, Stephanie Rodríguez national economist and author of This Time is Production Coordinator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Susan Smitherman Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly , For more information about MDC programs, A Decade of Debt and many more call 305-237-8888 or visit • Ana Veciana-Suárez: Syndicated columnist and author of several books, including Flight to Freedom and The Chin Kiss King Noted Authors MIAMI DADE COLLEGE COLLEGE f orum November 2012 • Volume 16 • Number 5

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