MIAMI -- (AP) Eduardo Padron sat in his high school counselor's office, ready to discuss his future and fulfill the promise he had made to his mother before boarding a plane and leaving Cuba.
But the counselor told Padron he wasn't college material. You should apply to a trade school, she said.
"When she said that, the voice of my mother in the back of my head was telling me, 'No, you're going to college and you can do much better,'" Padron recalls.
Rejecting the counselor's advice, he applied to many schools. He was accepted at just one: Miami's community college.
"If I'm passionate about this place," Padron says from behind his desk at Miami Dade College, where today he is the school's president, "it's because of my understanding of how this institution changed my life."
Padron -- a man with a gentle demeanor and determination -- is one of the greatest proponents of the …