Garrison has taken on leadership roles beyond campus
as well, creating a board alongside community members to
raise money for student scholarships, comprised of “people
from all walks of life” who donated at least $1,000 apiece. In
total, the e;ort has raised $415,000, including money from
faculty, and Garrison and his board are currently planning
a $150-per-ticket gala with a student talent show.
“I’ve been able to meet so many people outside the
educational institution, and learn about their businesses
and what they care about,” he says.
Shari Olson, president of South Mountain, says
Garrison has forged numerous connections in the
community in his more than 30 years at the college,
raising money for scholarships both externally and during
three rounds of a campus campaign called Students
Transformed to Achieve Radiance and Success (STARS).
Garrison also has organized community musical
events of various kinds in the campus performing arts
center, built in the early 2000s, for which he served as the
primary designer, she says. “He’s an amazing person,”
Olson says. “Of anyone in the organization, he’s really a
legend. He will leave a legacy when he retires.”
On a national scale, Garrison also is among those
who received AACC’s Distinguished Faculty Recognition.
“That was a shock to me,” he says. “But it’s an honor to be
recognized, especially when I believe we have so many
outstanding faculty members at this college. They’re so
Tibaquirá says the AACC recognition meant a great
deal to him, as well. “It’s an amazing thing to be recog-
nized at a national level for the work I have been doing at
Miami Dade College and our campus,” he says. That work
has included helping students apply for scholarships and
leading an organization on campus that’s encouraged
students to do 1,500 hours of community service.
“For the students, there’s a bigger purpose than for
you to sit in the classroom,” he says. “You take time on a
Saturday to help in an event that relates to the commu-
nity. It’s about making them understand that there’s an
ecosystem that forms. We want to make a student well-
rounded. It’s not just about a 4.0 [GPA].”
Eduardo Padrón, president of MDC, says Tibaquirá has
shown himself to be self-motivated, creative and innova-
tive. Among other contributions, Tibaquirá has facilitated
scholarship essay-writing seminars and brought groups of
students to the Everglades to instill a respect for the natu-
ral environment. “He loves to work with students,” Padrón
says. “He is someone who goes the extra mile all the time,
someone who is very visionary, who is always foreseeing
ways in which students can benefit…He represents servant
leadership at its best.”
Tibaquirá has found the leadership at Miami Dade to
be “100-percent supportive” of his e;orts outside the class-
room, which also have included an all-night dance mar-
athon to raise funds for sustainable agriculture in Haiti
that took in $50,000, and an e;ort to create a safe house for
rape victims in the Congo that brought in $28,000.
“You have an idea, students have an idea, the college
buys into the idea,” he says.
And Tibaquirá feels like the students buy into him,
given their similar backgrounds. “Being in a community
college in the middle of Miami, in an underprivileged
neighborhood, relates back to my growing up,” he says.
“Many of our students are the first generation to go to
college. Many have left college and come back…They relate
to me once they hear the story, where I came from, that I
failed the first time and succeeded the second time, dropping out because of calculus and computer programming,
and now I’m a computer programming professor.”
Ed Finkel is an education writer based in Illinois.
presented in 2014
with the college’s
by President Shari
RIGH T: AACC
Dale P. Parnell