Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

J.K. Rowling is working on a Harry Potter prequel! Well, sort of. It’s actually a play, not a new novel, but it does take place before the events of the first book.

“The Cursed Child would ‘delve into what happened to Harry’s parents before they were killed by Lord Voldemort, forcing an infant Harry to be raised in miserable circumstances by his mother’s sister, Petunia, her horrid husband Vernon and their spoiled son Dudley.'”

Read more here

Drawing and Illustrating

While I write and talk a lot about writing, drawing is also one of my early passions. I began writing and drawing almost interchangeably. While I credit my mother for teaching me how to write and for always buying me books to encourage my imagination, it was my father who taught me how to draw.

I began drawing cartoon characters that I saw in TV, and ever since then all of my illustrations tend to be cartoonish, that is, not realistic representations of things. For a long time, I thought that this meant I was less of an artist than someone who was a “classical” painter.

When I was around nine or 10, or perhaps even earlier, I began to write my own comic strips. At first, I used characters that already existed (Batman, Superman, Mickey Mouse), but eventually, I began creating my own superheroes.

Looking back, I think drawing helped me cope with the fact that both my parents were far away. And by creating my own comic strips, I was writing dialogue and creating plot lines that extended into multiple volumes. In other words, I was mixing both things that I loved.

I kept working on comics until I was 13. Being an illustrator wasn’t a hip and cool thing like it is now and I was kind of embarrassed of letting people know that I was into comics, so, sadly, I stopped. I wish I had continued and improved my skills, but alas, I can’t change the thought process of an insecure teenager on the verge of high school.

Fortunately, I did save a bunch of my comics. I have dozens and dozens of original superheroes. Anyone at Marvel or DC hiring or looking for new ideas?

Here are some of my “Superheroes Club” comics

Superheroes Club

And all of my comics

All Comics

Most Influential Mass Media Professors

Apples

Continuing with my post-grad nostalgia, there are a few professors who certainly made an impact in my life while I attended Washburn. Although I did have a lot of wonderful instructors throughout my two and half years, there are a few who stood out and I want to honor them with this humble post. Think of this post as a very long ratemyprofessors.com article.

Since my major was Mass Media, I’ll start with two professors from said department, but will talk about two professors in the English Department (my minor) in a future post.

Mass Media Department

Dr. Stover

I would have to start with Dr. Maria Stover. While I had a few classes with Dr. Stover, there’s one that really made an impact and that’s Media Literacy. I went into the class not really knowing what to expect, but I came out with a whole new perspective in how I see the word.

Thanks to Dr. Stover’s class, I was able to recognize all the gender and racial biases in the media, as well as in my own life. Although I was raised by wonderful women, I certainly grew up in a patriarchal society, where machismo is touted as the norm to follow. However, thanks to this class, a lot of my own biases were removed. Thanks to this class, I began to make smarter decisions as to what toys to buy my daughter. For instance, my daughter doesn’t just have the stereotypical girly dolls, she also has a doctor’s kit, as well as a set of hammer and tools. And that’s just one thing.

Besides those eye-opening lectures, Dr. Stover grew up under a Communist regime, just like me. It’s an unfortunate bond to have, but it was incredible to learn that the hardships she faced in her native Bulgaria, were the same exact things that I faced in Cuba. Dr. Stover also invited me to speak to the entire class about Communist propaganda during one of the lectures, which was a great and wonderful experience.

But besides all that, the thing that I appreciate the most about Dr. Stover is an encouraging conversation she had with me. She told me that it’s not often that she comes across students like me and that I could literally do anything I wanted to. She said that if I wanted to, I could have a very successful career in the Mass Media field. She even encouraged me to pursue my Masters and maybe even teach one day.

It’s hard to overstate what hearing those words from someone you highly respect does to your self-esteem.

Regina Cassell

Although I had Regina early on in my Washburn career, it was online, so I didn’t get to really meet her until this Spring. One thing that immediately stands out with Regina is that she really cares about her students. Because I work full-time, I had a hard time juggling work and school, but Regina was very understanding and flexible.

Someone once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun” and Regina understands that well. In her Creative Media Practicum class (where we created the Mass Media Messenger alumni magazine) she allowed us to be creative, to explore, to have fun. At the same time, she made sure to keep us on task and motivated. And whenever we had a question about something, she would help us out because she does know her stuff.

But the class that really made a difference in my life was the Independent Study class where we put together a live half-hour news show on YouTube, KSWU News. Not only did I learn a lot about cameras, sound, editing., lighting, reporting, etc., I also made a lot of good friends. There were people in that class that I’ve had in previous classes, but given the nature of the studio environment, we got to know each other a lot more. I think one of the best parts about college is getting to know other awesome people and this class made that so much easier.

Finally, Regina also has a literal open-door policy with her current and former students. To celebrate out last KSWU show, she had a party at her home and invited all of us, as well as other Mass Media students. It’s rare to have a professor be so welcoming and accommodating, but Regina made room for all of us and made us feel right at home.


Thanks Dr. Stover and Regina!

I didn’t want to make this post too long, so I’ll be talking about two professors in the English Department in a few days. Those professors are Tom Averill and Liz Derrington.

Las Mujeres De Mi Vida

Finalmente me gradué de la universidad con un título de licenciatura, 14 años después de terminar la escuela secundaria. La última vez que fui a la escuela fue en el Miami Dade College, donde obtuve mi título de Asociado, pero eso fue en 2004. Por desgracia, un título de  Asociado no significa mucho hoy en día.

Gracias al apoyo de mi esposa, pude terminar mi carrera. Y cuando miró hacia atrás en mi vida, puedo ver que siempre estuve rodeado de mujeres maravillosas que no sólo me criaron, pero me enseñaron muchas cosas.

Mi Mamá

going to school
Mis primeros recuerdos de mi mamá son de ella enseñandome a escribir. Yo tenía alrededor de tres años de edad cuando aprendí a escribir mi propio nombre y nunca he dejado de escribir y soñar desde entonces. Y todo comenzó con mi madre, que es una mujer amorosa y maravillosa.

Cuando tenía 11 años, mi madre tuvo que tomar una decisión muy difícil. Ella no fue capaz de salir de Cuba, pero yo si tuve la oportunidad y ella tuvo que elegir dejarmer venir a los Estados Unidos sin ella. Ella optó por darme la oportunidad de vivir en una tierra libre,  ella decidió darme la oportunidad de convertirme en un hombre mejor. Si ella hubiera dicho que no, probablemente estaría en Cuba, bajo un régimen que no sólo destruye la libertad, pero también la esperanza.

Sé que mi mamá lloró todos los días durante 12 años hasta que finalmente nos pudimos reunir en Miami. No fue fácil, pero estoy agradecido por su amor y su sacrificio.

Mi bisabuela

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Como mi madre no pudo venir a los Estados Unidos, mi bisabuela se convirtió en mi segunda mamá. Ella siempre ha estado al tanto mío y siempre me ha cuidado. Tal vez debido a mi situación, ella siempre se encargó de protegerme y de que no me faltara nada. Estoy muy agradecido por ella!

Ella es una mujer maravillosa y es un ejemplo de una persona muy trabajadora. Ha vivido una vida bien difícil. Tuvo que abandonar la escuela a una edad temprana para ayudar a cuidar de su familia, y su esposo (mi bisabuelo) falleció inesperadamente por un infarto.

Mami, como todos la llamamos, es simplemente increíble y estoy muy agradecido a Dios por todos los años que la ha dado. Le pido a Dios que le de muchos más.

Mi Abuela

My grandmother! This was taken this year. Maybe my grandfather took it?
Tati, como la decimos, es como si fuera otra madre para mí. Junto con mi bisabuela, ella me crió y siempre se aseguró de que no me faltara nada. Si yo quería un par de zapatos de baloncesto (sin importat lo caro) ella me los compraba. Su forma de expresar amor es dando y, vaya, ella me debe querer cantidad porque siempre me ha dado tanto!

Tati es muy trabajadora. No he conocido a nadie que haya trabajado tan duro toda su vida sin quejarse. Ella trabaja incansablemente y todo lo que hace es para ayudar al resto de la familia.

Mi Tia

My aunt, on the right, captured in my mom's selfie!

Cuando salí de Cuba a la edad de 11, vine con mi tía, tío, dos primas y mi bisabuela. Mi tía siempre me ha apoyado. Ella siempre me trató como si fuera su propio hijo.

Cuand el programa de ayuda financiera de Miami Dade College me negó la ayuda, mi tía fue y hablo con ellos. No se como lo hizo, pero los convenció de ayudarme. Si ella no hubiera hecho esto, probablemente yo habría regresado a Cuba. Realmente lo consideré. Estaba tan deprimido. Mi mamá había sacrificado tanto para que me convierta en un hombre productivo, y mis posibilidades por poco fueron interrumpidas por falta de dinero.

Además, todo lo que sé acerca de la moda, lo he aprendido de ella.

Mi Esposa

With my gorgeous wife, going out for a date!
¿Por dónde empezar? Creo que todo el mundo sueña con encontrar a esa persona especial, con conocer a esa persona que te hace creer en cuentos de hadas. Mi esposa es esa mujer. Elena es amable y cariñosa y muy inteligente. Gracias a su amor y su apoyo, me he convertido en un hombre mejor.

Si no fuera por su aliento incondicional, no me hubiera graduado hoy.

No sólo es una mujer maravillosa, pero también es una madre buenisima. Ellie y Oliver aún no saben lo afortunados que son de tener una madre tan increíble, pero a medida que crecen, se van a dar cuentas. Su amor por ellos y su dedicación a ellos es increíble y estoy muy agradecido a Dios por haberla encontrado.

——-

Si no fuera por todas esas mujeres increíbles en mi vida, yo no sería el hombre que soy hoy en día. He aprendido mucho de ellas y estoy muy agradecido de haber estado rodeado por mujeres tan increibles y amorosas.

grad

The Women in My Life

I finally graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree, 14 years after finishing high school. I did get my Associate’s degree, but that was in 2004. That was the last time I had gone to school. Unfortunately, an Associate’s doesn’t mean much in the workplace nowadays and I’m sure that in a decade or two, a bachelor’s won’t mean much either.

Anyway, it was a lot of hard work, and I couldn’t have done it without my wife’s support and encouragement. And when I look back at my life, I can see that I was always surrounded by wonderful women who not only raised me, but taught me so many things.

My Mom

going to school
My mom taking me to school. My cousin Danay is in front of us. You can see how happy we were going to school!

 

I have early memories of my mom teaching me how to write my name. I was probably around three years old when I learned to write my own name and I never stopped writing and dreaming since then. And it all started with my mom, who is a loving and wonderful woman.

When I was 11, my mom had to make a really tough decision. She wasn’t able to leave Cuba, but I did have a chance and she had to choose whether to let me come to the United States without her, or to keep me in Cuba. She chose to give me the chance of freedom, the chance to become a better man. Because of that difficult choice she made, I graduated. It all started with that decision. If she had said no, I would probably be in Cuba, under a regime that not only extinguishes freedom, but also hope.

I know that my mom cried every single day for 12 years, until we were finally reunited. It wasn’t easy, but I’m thankful for her love and her example of sacrifice.

My Great-Grandmother

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With Mami at some very formal event. I was around 15 when this was taken.

 

When my mom wasn’t able to come to the United States, my great-grandmother became my second mom. She always looked out for my best interests and always protected me. Perhaps because of my situation, she always took it upon herself to make sure that I was safe, even if that meant being a little strict at times. But I’m very thankful for her!

She’s a wonderful woman and she’s such an example of endurance and hard work. She’s lived a difficult life. From having to drop out of school at an early age to help take care of her family, to her husband (my great-grandfather) dying suddenly from a heart attack.

Mami, as we all call her, is just amazing and I’m so thankful to God for all the years he’s given her. I pray that he gives her many more.

My Grandmother

My grandmother! This was taken this year. Maybe my grandfather took it?
My grandmother! This was taken this year. Maybe my grandfather took it?

Tati, as we call her, is also another mom to me. Along with my great-grandmother, she raised me and always made sure all my needs were provided. If I wanted a pair of basketball shoes (no matter how ridiculously expensive) she would buy them for me. Her main way to express love is by giving and, man, she must love me so much because she’s given me so much!

Tati is such a hard worker. I haven’t met anyone who’s worked so hard all her life without complaining. She works tirelessly and she does it all for the rest of the family, to make sure that all our needs are met.

My Aunt

My aunt, on the right, captured in my mom's selfie!
My aunt, on the right, captured in my mom’s selfie!

When I left Cuba at the age of 11, I came with my aunt, uncle, two cousins and my great-grandmother. My aunt has always been there for me. She’s always treated me as if I was her own son.

I almost didn’t get in to community college because Financial Aid was being ridiculous, but my aunt went to the school and she talked, and somehow she made them accept me. If she hadn’t done this, I probably would have returned to Cuba. I really considered it. I was so depressed. My mom had sacrificed so much for me to become a productive man, and my chances were almost cut short by lack of money.

My aunt is also a hard worker and can talk her way into anything. Also, everything that I know about fashion, I’ve learned from her.

My Wife

With my gorgeous wife, going out for a date!
With my gorgeous wife, going out for a date!

Where to begin? I think everyone dreams of meeting their soulmate, of meeting that one person that makes you believe in fairy tales. My wife is that woman. There’s no else in this life that I’d rather grow old with. She’s kind and loving and very smart. She’s made me a better man, thanks to her love and support.

If it wasn’t for her encouragement, if it wasn’t for her not minding that on my first semester back I spent almost every weekend studying at the library, I wouldn’t be a graduate today.

Not only is she a wonderful woman and wife, but she’s a great mother, too. Ellie and Oliver don’t know yet how lucky they are to have such an amazing mother, but as they get older, they’ll see. Her love for them and her dedication to them is amazing and I’m so thankful to God that I found her.

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If it wasn’t for all of these amazing women in my life, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I have learned so much from them and I’m so thankful to have been surrounded by such strong and loving women.

grad

Graduation!!

I’ll be graduating this Saturday! For those of you who don’t know me, I got my Associate’s Degree from a community college about a decade ago. I wanted to continue to my studies, but several things impeded my progress, but it was mainly money.

Now, ten years later, and thanks to the support and encouragement of my wife, I will finally get my Bachelor’s degree! She’s certainly kept me going when I wanted to give up and there were MANY times.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

Growing up in Cuba, I would have never thought that I would be graduating from a university in the United States. When my family left Cuba, they did so in order for me and my cousins to have a better life, to have a better future. When my parents allowed me to leave Cuba and come to the United States without them, they did it so that I could live freely and choose what kind of man I wanted to be one day.

I’ll be the first person in my family to graduate from college. To most people that probably doesn’t mean much, but it means a lot to me. It means that their sacrifices paid off. Not that going to college is the only thing that validates their sacrifice. College is not for everyone. But in my case, that’s certainly the best way to honor them.

I plan on writing a longer post on this soon, but anyway, I’m graduating!!