Residents in Miguel Cardona's familial hometown of Aguada, Puerto Rico find his rise to U.S. Secretary of Education inspiring.
Cardona was born and raised in Meriden, but both his parents were born in Aguada. The Puerto Rican community has shown its support for Cardona’s appointment and sees him as an example for future generations.
Christian E. Cortes-Feliciano, mayor of Aguada, said in a statement he is proud the nation’s top educator has roots in Aguada.
“Even though Dr. Miguel Cardona was born in Meriden, Connecticut, he has maintained close relationships with his people here, and we hope that he will continue that relationship,” Cortes-Feliciano said.
Cortes-Feliciano provided a photo of himself with Miguel Cardona’s cousin Daisy Cardona, with whom he had spoken in the past week while working on an interview for Telemundo in Puerto Rico.
Julio Quinones, director of education at Carlos Gonzalez High School in Aguada, sees Cardona’s rise as an inspiration to students.
“To see someone reach this position motivates all of us in that education is key to success and achievements. There is nothing more important in a society than education and through that, you can achieve your personal goals and inspire others. In this case, young adults, professionals and adults working toward a better culture and country,” Quinones said.
Cortes-Feliciano wishes the best for Cardona as secretary and is hoping he has a chance to travel to Puerto Rico.
“Personally, I consider that being the son of Puerto Ricans, and being an educator as secretary, represents an example for all the boys and girls of Puerto Rico. First, because there are no limits when we set ourselves clear goals and that the strength of our culture allows us to be and live like Puerto Ricans anywhere in the world,” Cortes-Feliciano said.
While Puerto Rico is a commonwealth, it follows the federal education system curriculum regulations as the states do.
Quinones has more hope than ever now that there is a Latino as Secretary of Education.
“We hope they equally consider Puerto Rico in terms of funding and parity. Maybe now with the new president and Secretary of Education, we will have more equality and variety compared to other states in the nation. Even though we receive many funds, they are not the same as other states and I believe Puerto Rico has the chance to receive that,” he said.
Quinones said is very proud of Cardona and also hopes he visits Puerto Rico to spend time with its educators.
“As a Puerto Rican, I am very proud that he has reached such a title as Secretary of Education, and even more that he is from Aguada. Like all Aguadenos, we are very proud,” he said.
Aguada is a municipality located in the Western Coastal region of Puerto Rico that borders the Atlantic ocean. Its population of 37,954 people is spread throughout 17 barrios and the Aguada downtown area. It’s one of a few towns that claim to be the landing place of Christopher Columbus on his second voyage, but it’s difficult to prove exactly where Columbus landed.
“From now on, we propose to Cardona that when taking his vacations, he considers traveling to the land of his parents,” Feliciano said.
Cardona was confirmed by the Senate on March 1 and sworn in on March 2. Prior to his appointment as education secretary, he was Connecticut's education commissioner and previously served as assistant superintendent and principal in Meriden.