Carlos Curbelo
Class of 1998

I am eternally grateful to Jorge Mas Canosa and his family for facilitating my education at the University of Miami. The Mas Family Scholarship Program is a special gift to the United States and to Cuba and gives life to a wonderful legacy of civic participation.

University of Miami
Business Administration | Public Administration

“I am eternally grateful to Jorge Mas Canosa and his family for facilitating my education at the University of Miami. The Mas Family Scholarship Program is a special gift to the United States and to Cuba and gives life to a wonderful legacy of civic participation.”

Carlos Curbelo was born in Miami on March 1, 1980, to Carlos and Teresita Curbelo, Cuban exiles who fled Fidel Castro’s tyranny in the 1960s. He attended John G. DuPuis Elementary in Hialeah before continuing to Miami’s Belen Jesuit Preparatory School where he served as Student Council President his senior year. Carlos subsequently enrolled in the University of Miami where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration while majoring in Political Science. More recently, he earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, also from UM.

In 2002, just months out of college, Carlos founded Capitol Gains, a public and media relations firm that has done work for South Florida companies as well as state, national, and international political campaigns. In 2009, he was named State Director for US Senator George LeMieux and was responsible for overseeing staff in seven offices throughout the state and advising the Senator on Latin-American policy and Hispanic issues. In 2010, he was appointed by Florida’s Governor to the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), a federally mandated board tasked with prioritizing local transportation and infrastructure projects. Carlos is also the co-founder of Centre Court Charities, a non-profit organization that runs basketball leagues for high school students during the summer months.

In November of 2010, Carlos was elected, with the support of over 27,000 voters, to serve on the Miami Dade County School Board. Miami Dade County Public Schools is the fourth largest school district in the country. Shortly after being elected, he was the only School Board Member in the state asked to serve on the Governor’s Education Transition Team where he was a champion for reform and for equity in funding. On the School Board, Carlos has been a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility, parental involvement, and transparency in the district’s operations.

Marrying Cecilia Lowell in 2006, Carlos decided to settle his family in Kendall where he has lived since 1995. The couple’s first child, Sylvie Marie, was born In October of 2009, and their second Carolina, in May of 2012.

Victoria Otero
Class of 2017

University of Chicago
International Relations

Victoria is of Cuban and Lithuanian descent, a heritage that has given her a fascination with the world’s culture and people. She is passionate about learning, and her interests range from foreign languages to Salsa music to piano playing. Her goal is to one day become a leader that can help those around them achieve a better life.

Sandra Bonito
Class of 2014

Columbia University

Sandra was born in Camaguey, Cuba. She came to the United States at 19 and attended Miami Dade College, where she received an Associate Degree in Arts in Architecture. In 2009, she received the Best Architecture Student of the Year Award and has received numerous recognitions since. Sandra is a Dean’s list student at Columbia and hopes to inspire a new generation of Cuban-Americans to pursue a rigorous education and become leaders of their communities.

Nikolas Gutierrez-Kovner
Class of 2016

University of Southern California
Film and Television Production

Nikolas is passionate about storytelling and moviemaking, and his films and projects have earned him a number of prestigious awards such as first place at the California PTA Reflections Contest and a Regional Gold Key from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards contest of the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers. For his academic successes, he has been recognized by a number of prestigious organizations and was awarded USC’s esteemed Presidential Scholarship.

Michael Castaño
Class of 2016

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Electrical Engineering

Michael was born in Cuba and moved to the United States as a child. He regards the challenges and struggles he faced as an immigrant as his motivation to succeed and become a leader in his community. He is the first in his family to go to college, and after graduation, Michael intends to attend law school and become an attorney in the field of intellectual property.

Marisel Trespalacios
Class of 2015

Johns Hopkins University
Masters in International Economics

Marisel was born in Havana, Cuba, but moved to Portland, Oregon with her parents at age eleven. She graduated cum laude from the George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs. She went on to work on democracy promotion and human rights programs at the Pan American Development Foundation and started an NGO with two friends called Agora Cuba. This fall, she begins a two-year program where she hopes to acquire skills that will contribute to a solid democratic transition and the reconstruction of her birth country.

Lazaro Gonzalez
Class of 2016

Nova Southeastern University

Lazaro was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, but was raised in Miami. An honor roll student his entire life, he graduated from Miami Dade College and was accepted into Nursing school, where he is thriving academically while also getting on-the-job experience working as an EMT. Lazaro’s passion is helping people and proving that one person can make a difference in many people’s lives. He hopes to attain a Doctoral Degree in Nursing and someday create a medical center.

Laura Linchenat
Class of 2010

Florida Gulf Coast University
International Finance | Marketing

Laura was born in Havana, where she lived until the age of 6. She was raised in Fort Myers, FL, and graduated from Florida Gulf Goast a year ahead of schedule, having been on the President’s and Dean’s lists multiple times, among other honors and awards. She looks forward to receiving a Master’s in Accounting, as well as becoming a CPA.

Katerine Medina
Class of 2015

University of Central Florida
Visual Arts and Emerging Media | Marketing

Katerine was born in Holguin, Cuba, and was able to leave the island in 1998 through the lottery system. The move greatly altered her life, opening her horizons to a breadth of opportunities that had previously been unthinkable. She is a first-generation university student whose experiences have instilled a drive of hope, perseverance, and hard work. She hopes to advance her career toward her goal of becoming an Art Director in the Advertising industry.

Joseph Socarras
Class of 2015

University of Miami
Biomedical Engineering

Joseph is passionate about research in the fields of prosthetics, cybernetics, and other technologies that interact with the human body. He hopes to begin conducting independent research in the field very soon and is a part of the pre-Ph.D. program at UM. Outside the classroom, he is actively involved with several different organizations ranging in nature from political to professional. He feels his personal and academic experiences at UM have greatly impacted his life, shaping and preparing him for the future.

Jeremy Ceballo
Class of 2017

Columbia University
International Relations | Political Science

Jeremy was born and raised in Miami, Florida to Cuban immigrant parents who inspired him to pursue his passions. He attended an IB program that allowed him to take advantage of the opportunities he is presented with and has instilled a holistic desire for success and excellence. During his time in New York and whatever may follow, Jeremy hopes to give back to the Cuban community that has nurtured his dreams and has given him the chance to effect a change.

Elaine Cordova
Class of 2017

Florida International University

Elaine was born in Havana, Cuba. At the age of 3, she came to the United States, where she excelled in her artistic and academic pursuits. She was a member of the National Honor Society and the International Thespian Society while also maintaining a job to help support her family. Elaine is proud to pursue her education at FIU and hopes to achieve all her personal and professional goals.

David McCombie III
Class of 2001

"I am grateful for having received the Mas Scholarship and all of the opportunities that it has enabled. Perhaps most importantly, the mentorship and support that the Foundation provided has been instrumental in my professional growth."

University of Miami – Economics | Finance
Harvard  – Corporate Law | Negotiation Strategy

“I am grateful for having received the Mas Scholarship and all of the opportunities that it has enabled. Perhaps most importantly, the mentorship and support that the Foundation provided has been instrumental in my professional growth.”

David McCombie is Founder and President of McCombie Group, LLC—An innovative advisory firm supporting investors and owners across their direct private investments and closely-held operating businesses. A thought leader on private equity, he has been a featured speaker at international investment conferences, and teaches a course at the University of Miami School of Business based upon his upcoming book on the subject: “The Family Office Practitioner’s Guide to Direct Investments.”

David is a former McKinsey & Company management consultant—A specialist in corporate strategy, he managed multiple client teams across a variety of industries to quickly develop strategic recommendations within complex, uncertain environments. In 2009, he was selected as a McKinsey Global Institute Fellow to further develop the firm‘s regulatory capabilities (approximately 10 of 10,000 McKinsey consultants selected/ year). Prior to joining McKinsey, he briefly worked as an associate within the financial institution group at Citigroup Global Banking in New York.

David graduated from Harvard Law School where he focused on corporate law & negotiation strategy, and also did extensive coursework in corporate finance at the Harvard Business School. His thesis, “Hispanic Private Equity: A Cultural Approach to Achieving Superior Investment Returns” was published in the Harvard Latino Law Review. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Miami with a degree in Economics/Finance, where he was a Mas Family Scholar.  He is also a licensed Florida attorney.

Cassandra Pereda
Class of 2017

Emory University
International Relations

Cassandra was born in Miami, Florida, but experienced a big change in her life when she and her family moved to Bascom, Florida at the age of ten. In high school she began volunteering in her community, which sparked her passion for helping others. She combined her love of Cuban culture and her passion of service when she began her studies, and hopes to use these along with the skills she is acquiring at Emory to one day work in the United Nations and fight for Human Rights, especially liberty and democracy.

Carlos Garcia
Class of 2016

Emory University
Business Administration

Carlos was born in Havana, Cuba, but left his homeland by way of Venezuela at just one year of age. He is a well-rounded student whose interests are not limited to one field; from Marine Conservation to finance to salsa dancing, he is well versed in a wealth of subjects. Carlos is currently following the pre-business track in the Goizueta B-school.

Angelo Pis-Dudot
Class of 2017

Yale University
Ethics, Politics & Economics

Born in Miami, Florida, Angelo was involved in debate, multiple service organizations and honor societies, and athletics in high school. In 2012 he earned the rank of Eagle Scout and continued to serve as an adult leader with the scouts once he turned 18. At Yale, he is enrolled in Directed Studies, a yearlong Great Books program for freshmen.

Andro Nodarse-Leon
Class of 1998

University of Pennsylvania
Economics | Systems Engineering

Andro Nodarse-León is a co-founder and Managing Partner of LEÓN, MAYER & Co. Since co-founding LM, Mr. Nodarse-León has worked on the development of the Firm’s private equity and investment banking businesses and has been involved in all of the Firm’s private equity and advisory transactions to date.

Prior to co-founding LEÓN, MAYER & Co., Mr. Nodarse-León was an investment executive at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. (“KKR”) in New York City, where he pursued acquisition opportunities across a number of sectors, including: consumer products, entertainment, hospitality, media and energy. He played a key role in the $1.5 billion acquisition of Sealy Corporation and worked alongside Sealy’s Board of Directors and senior management team to help enhance the Company’s operating performance, eventually leading to a successful IPO.

Prior to KKR, Mr. Nodarse-León was an investment banking executive in the Communications, Media and Entertainment Group of Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York City. At Goldman Sachs, Mr. Nodarse-León advised corporate clients on a number of merger, acquisition and financing transactions, including the $72 billion merger of AT&T Broadband and Comcast and the $9 billion restructuring of AT&T’s investment in Time Warner Entertainment.

Mr. Nodarse-León is currently a Trustee of the Albert G. Oliver Program, a New York City non-profit that helps to place talented Hispanic and African-American students in the country’s best independent private high schools and universities. He is also a Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Cuban American National Foundation, a non-profit institution dedicated to advancing democracy in Cuba. Mr. Nodarse-León is also a Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach (SUNPAC), an organization focused on engaging Hispanics in the political process generally and with the principles of conservative government, in particular.

Mr. Nodarse-León graduated with honors from The University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School and a B.S.E in Systems Engineering from The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He also holds his FINRA Series 79 and 63 licenses.

He was born in Havana, Cuba and came to Miami at the age of 12, where he currently resides.

Alfredo Valdivia
Class of 2017

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Business Administration

Alfredo was born and raised in Hialeah, Florida. His passion is helping others, and he hopes to cultivate it by entering the medical field. A strong believer in the importance of freedom and its role in achieving full potential, he believes that education and pride are key to being cultured and successful. He looks forward to the next four years as an opportunity to expand his capacity to help and lead his community.