Amanda Dufau was born in Miami in 1976. She is known as “First Generation,” a term that describes her status as the first generation of her family born outside of Cuba.
Amanda’s parents arrived in the U.S. within two years of one another—her mother Silvia in 1968, her father Agustin in 1970.
“In both cases my parent’s families sought a better life than the one afforded them under the Castro regime. My mom was only 14-years-old when her family made the move. She came by plane with my grandparents Jesus and Silvia. My father and his older sister arrived during the Camarioca boatlift a few years later.”
I actually believe that the most poignant Latinarrific thread that runs through my life is the blending of the immigrant work ethic, with the passion for holding family close to the heart.
From an early age, Amanda inherited the Herculean work ethic of her maternal Abuelo (Grandfather), one that has provided her with the fortitude to strive and achieve the many goals she has set for herself throughout her life.
“My Abuelo was heroic in his indefatigable spirit to work in order to support his family. He held down four jobs at once!”
Amanda worked her way through High School so that she could pay her own way to college—never leaning on her own parents for funding. Once enrolled in Miami-Dade she took a job at the University of Miami, which afforded her the opportunity to receive “tuition remission”, a benefit that would ultimately provide her with a free education at UM.
But it didn’t happen overnight—far from it, in fact. Amanda’s two-year stint at Dade actually took six-years to complete.
“I was working and only going to school part time. During this period I married my high-school sweetheart, Eric Dufau.
“During that extended stretch, we also had our first child, Brandon. By the time he was two we’d saved enough money to purchase our first condo in Miami. A year-and-a-half later we upgraded, moving into a townhouse— not long after, our second son, Matthew, was born.”
Amanda finally realized her dream and enrolled at UM, all the while continuing to work in its Medical Billing Department.
Once graduated (with a degree in Human Resource Management), she stayed on at UM—living the American Dream, but always embracing and holding on to her Cuban culture and heritage.
“Living in Miami makes it pretty easy to stick close to the Cuban experience. As a family we whole-heartedly embraced the traditions, superstitions, holidays (such as Noche Buena) and the food of our Cuban ancestry.
“Despite my intense work drive, my family always came first. I credit the ability to strive in the business world, without abandoning family to my upbringing and especially the love and loyalty I learned from my grandparents. I actually believe that the most poignant Latinarrific thread that runs through my life is the blending of the immigrant work ethic, with the passion for holding family close to the heart.”
After 15-years working at UM Amanda was laid off. As her husband Eric’s work was more “vocational than educational” (meaning he often went from one job completed to having to find another), Amanda knew she had to find another opportunity. And of course she did.
“While Eric was employed at the time of my layoff, within three weeks I’d landed another job at an eating disorder center. It wasn’t long before I moved from the Medical Billing Department to Staff Management and Payroll.”
After 4-years she left the Center and decided it was time to go back to school, in order to fulfill her life-long dream of becoming an educator. Amanda took a job at a local pre-school in Miami where she became an Administrator (she currently holds the position of Assistant Director). Amanda recently enrolled back at Miami-Dade, where she is working on her teaching certificate.
As for her grandparents, in 2009 they were featured (with three other families) in the PBS special “My Suitcase Full of Hope: The Story of the Cuban Freedom Flights, narrated by Willy Chirino.”
Asked for a tip for wellness and better living, Amanda was quick to pounce. “In 2011 my blood pressure had skyrocketed due to a variety of stressors. Friends and family suggested running. Next month I’ll be completing my 13th Half Marathon.”
Latinarrific salutes Amanda Dufau!
The American Heart Association recommends forty minutes of aerobic exercise, of moderate to vigorous intensity, three to four times a week, to lower blood pressure or cholesterol, which lowers the risk for heart attack and stroke.
In 2011 friends and family of Amanda suggested running because her blood pressure had skyrocketed. In April 2017, she will be competing in her 13th Half Marathon.
LIFE CHOICES TIP:
Tuition remission is a tax-free subsidized education for their children in the school where they work. Schools may also pay tuition at other equivalent institutions for their staff children if they so wish.
Amanda Dufau cleverly enrolled in Miami Dade College while taking a job at the University of Miami with the benefit of ``tuition remission.
Highly successful people have often had a family member or mentor, as a role model in order to help one achieve goals and dreams.