Cuba Opportunity for Alum McNair
Compiled by Dan Silvia
Jamel McNair, who graduated from the Bachelor of Science in Business program in 2016, took advantage of an opportunity through a program called International Career Studies to travel to and study in Cuba last year. McNair shared some of his experiences from the program.
What were your objectives on the trip?
My personal objectives were one to improve my Spanish and being that I have an Aunt from Cuba, I wanted to see where my family lived and learn more about the area.
As far the academic objectives, I wanted to make sure I was a sponge and made the most of this opportunity. I took notes upon notes and videos of every great experience I could. I wanted to make sure I didn't just pass, but that excelled in each course with nothing less than an A. I woke up each day reminding myself that I was chosen, so I need to deliver nothing but greatness when it comes to submitting work or presentations.
How did you feel about the experience?
I felt honored to represent the University as well as America. From the time I got off the plane, I was embraced with friendship and felt welcomed in Cuba. There was a woman standing holding a card with my middle name and last name. I walk out of the airport and there is a small crowd of people cheering as if I'm someone famous, for about 35 seconds, I felt like Bruno Mars lol.
After my experience, I feel enlightened. For so long we are told one thing, but to see Cuba for yourself in person is priceless. I learned so much about the history of Cuba as well as business practices through my professor Emilio and I learned a lot about art, culture, and enhancing my Spanish through my professor Noemi. I had the pleasure of studying in the Universidad De La Isa which is a popular art, music, and culture university in Playa, Havana, Cuba. Toward the end of my program there were several different universities visiting and doing studies with their class, however I was honored to have clearance to actually study and share the same classroom with the Cuban Students. I really had the chance to see the prospective of the everyday Cuban college student.
What motivated you to pursue your Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Bellevue University?
Having family with a background in education will never let you settle for just enough. My mother is a retired Omaha Public Schools administrator, my brother a high school teacher, and my cousin and mentor is a doctoral finance professor. Not to mention, my youngest brother who will be a business graduate this May. I thank Fayetta Steele for being a positive academic mentor as well as pillar for me at Metro Community College. It was there the foundation for talks about pursuing my education at Bellevue would take place. My wife has been very supportive and encouraging, even now as I get ready to pursue my Masters.
What did you enjoy most about the program? (favorite class, professor, project)
I enjoyed my professor Emilio; he was more of a uncle or grandpa. He took me to the UNEAC, which is the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba. It was here that you would find singers, musicians, Afro Cuban bands..
I had the pleasure of meeting my fraternity brother Shaquille O'Neal and spending some time with him out in Havana as well, he was very proud of me and wished me the best of luck as I pursued my goals and my new marriage.
What are you doing currently as a career?
I currently work as a Marketing Consultant for a firm called Dex Media. I also work for a music publishing company called Brag Media.
How has earning your degree impacted your career and your life?
Earning my degree has impacted my life tremendously, before I was traveling and working as an A&R for Brag Media, which is a New York Based Publishing company. Although you encounter some great opportunities and travel the world, there is nothing like having another degree in your pocket to open up more doors.