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Democracy

Cuban immigrant’s reaction to getting his first American paycheck has gone viral

Before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.

cuban immigrant, immigrant stories, yoel diaz

The Cuban and American flags.

An Instagram post featuring Yoel Diaz, a recent Cuban immigrant, is going viral because it shows a powerful example of something many of us in America take for granted. The freedom to earn a paycheck for a day of honest labor.

In the video, Diaz is ecstatic after he opens his first paycheck after getting a job as a seasonal worker for UPS. CBS reports that before coming to the U.S. last year, Diaz made $12 a month as a computer science teacher in Cuba.

"This is my first hourly paycheck that I feel every hour counted," he told CBS News. "That every hour of work has importance in my life and that I know I can work hard for something. I can't compare that emotion with anything. Because I never had that in my country."

The new job was a big change from life in Cuba where he had trouble filling his refrigerator. He told CBS News that sometimes he only had two items: "Water, water, water, five, ten eggs, water."


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“First paycheck in AMERICA!!! This is the American dream!!!” his wife Marissa Diaz of Pheonix, Arizona captioned the post. “There are no words to describe how proud I am of your courage to enter a country and a culture that is not yours. This content is a mini documentary not only for us but dedicated to the many immigrants who sacrifice everything to film what we just filmed. A little bit at a time, with hard work and dedication anything is possible in this country.

Diaz's video comes at a time when Cuba is facing some of its most difficult economic hardships since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution. Widespread food and medicine shortages have led to protests in the streets, a rarity in the authoritarian country.

Diaz moved to America from Cuba to be with his wife whom he met as a child living in the communist country. After moving to the U.S., she shared stories of what life was like outside of Cuba. After the couple got together, Diaz had a choice: to stay in Cuba or go to the U.S. for greater opportunity.

"We want a future, we want a family... wherever you go I go,” he said. “This time, I finally can dream—I can help my family and this is the first step in my new life where I can be whoever I want now,” he said according to The New York Post.

On election day, Diaz shared why Americans should be grateful to have the ability to choose their leaders because where he is from, there is only one party. His perspective is important at a time when many Americans feel the country has been divided by political tribalism.

"Sometimes I see people fight with each other and they don't know the blessing they have. Just that you can think differently is a positive," he said in the video. "To Americans: Think about what you have. You Should stop fighting because it's something so beautiful. To think differently."

Diaz’s appreciation of his life in America is a great lesson to all of us who may take our unique freedoms for granted. America may not be a perfect place, but it’s still a country where people are free to pursue their dreams. Diaz’s story is also a wonderful reminder of the power America has to transform lives through immigration and that it should embrace that opportunity and give the gift to as many people as possible.

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.
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