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From hopelessness to Harvard

Mar 4, 2011
by Danielle Marsh, '09

Flagler College – Tallahassee graduate Phil Pradere striving for bigger things

It’s a neighborhood often labeled as “the city of hopelessness,” and it’s not the kind of place that lends itself to big dreams.

But Phil Pradere, ‘10, beat the odds, first graduating from Flagler College’s Tallahassee campus and now going on to get a master’s in finance from Harvard University. Pradere was born in Brownsville, Miami — a community with a sky-high crime rate that had been labeled the “City of Hopelessness.”

He likens his success to going from “pre-determined defeat to pre-destined triumph.”

“If there’s anyone who can get away from that community and do something great, then it’s a big achievement,” Pradere said. “It’s almost like you’re bound there, and I’ve seen a lot of people get stuck … a lot of people give up.”

When he thinks about his accomplishment, he says he is proud to have exceeded everyone’s expectations. Pradere said his faith plays a huge part in his accomplishment. He says if he could go back to his community, he would tell others to have faith.

“It’s a powerful thing, when you know it’s a bad situation you’re in, but that somehow you’re going to get out of it,” Pradere said. “A lot of people don’t have hope, and they hear they’re labeled ‘hopeless,’ and they settle.”

But not Pradere. “He had this grasp of the big picture and understood what he wanted to do,” remembers Assistant Professor Robert Garner, who had Pradere in an Intro to Management class at Flagler’s Tallahassee campus. “I don’t think he saw limitations. I think he just sees a big world out there and wants to get as big a piece of it as he can.”

Pradere graduated in May 2010 from the Tallahassee campus and then moved to St. Augustine to work at the main campus as a data analyst in the Information Technology office. He applied for admission to Harvard’s extension school to pursue a master’s of liberal arts with a concentration in finance. He will take online courses as well as classes on campus.

One of his reasons for choosing Harvard was the students — those who tackle the impossible, Pradere said. “I can’t help but to feel charged and motivated to do great things when I hear success stories of hard-working people,” he said.

He plans to take at least six online courses this spring and then move to Boston to finish his degree on campus.

When thinking of going to Harvard, Pradere has a mix of emotions. He said he ranges from proud and eager to challenged and anxious.

Even though Pradere is planning to take his time, he is looking toward the future and one day solving some of the issues he faced in Brownsville.

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