(Left) My passport photo. (Right) Papi and me in Havana, 1961

"My Father, My Inspiration" by Susana Rosende

My father, Alberto Carlos Rosende, Sr., has had a great impact on my life, both personally and professionally. He has instilled in me the values of family, hard work, and integrity, as well as the knowledge for the importance of having goals in life, and for never giving up, no matter the obstacles. He also inspired me to earn a university degree.

Born in Havana, Cuba in 1926 to a working class family, my father learned at a young age that earning an advanced education was essential to gaining financial security. After receiving a scholarship to the University of Havana, he endured hardships (such as lacking bus fare or lunch money and needing to share college text books with his twin brother) to earn his Civil Engineering degree.

His professional engineering career was curtailed in the early 1960s, when he chose to leave Cuba during Fidel Castro's revolution, and was then rejected for engineering positions in the USA during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Previously in management, he was forced to start over as a Land Surveyor to support his family.

However, he perservered, eventually landing a structural engineering position in NYC to support his wife and--eventually five--children. After 20 years with the company, he was transferred to Houston, Texas during the oil crisis. In Houston, the company folded. My father was laid off and lost all his retirement benefits.

Undaunted, he found an engineering job at the space program in Florida, where he has been laid off and re-hired numerous times, and is still employed, today, at the age of 77, (even after undergoing prostate and quadruple bypass surgeries).

After my divorce, my father encouraged me to return to college to earn my degree. My parents then welcomed me back into their home, and helped care for my then-two-year-old son, while I worked two jobs and commuted to school.

My father, who prides himself on not missing days from work, took the day off to attend my college graduation. Because of his example, I am inspired as a single mother to continue striving toward new education and career goals, and in turn, to pass my father's values and legacy to my sons.

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