Activism and Philanthropy

Carlos Perez

Born in Cuba, Carlos Perez immigrated to the United States as a child. As political refugees, his family was separated from many relatives who remained in Cuba. “I grew up not knowing my brothers. I didn’t know my aunts or my cousins. I just got to meet them last year,” said Perez, an alumnus of Nova Southeastern University (NSU), who also serves as director of outreach for the College of Psychology.

After graduating from the College of New Jersey, Perez worked as the director of student life at the University of Michigan—Flint. From there, he moved to South Florida and to NSU, where he earned his master’s degree and his doctorate in education.

At NSU, Perez is proud to support psychology and social sciences graduate programs, including community clinics and alumni initiatives. “I’ve seen so many future leaders … people who became professionals and who are doing all sorts of great things. I think that speaks to the bigger picture of what NSU does,” he explained.

Growing up, Perez remembers his father encouraging his activism and philanthropy. “When we immigrated to this country, my dad put me in a role where I was involved in planning some major events, even political protests. When I was not even an adolescent, I was making signs for demonstrations. My dad was civic minded and involved with scholarships,’’ he said. “There is a counseling concept—master what you suffer, and in that, we pursue a lifework that we are missing in our lives. He probably was missing some of the culture that he lost. Higher education is a rich place to have that sense of community.”

Perez has established a legacy gift at NSU and proposed an endowed scholarship that will feed into the legacy gift. “It would give an opportunity to individuals who are studying, researching, and have an interest in issues involving Cuba,” said Perez, who visited the island twice in recent years. “I went back in December and played Santa Claus and gave out gifts. They are in need. They are hungry. There are kids on the streets without shoes on their feet. There is a great need within the Caribbean, Cuba especially,” he said.

“I applaud the legacy gift. It gives faculty, staff, our friends, and the community a tremendous opportunity to be involved with something special,” he said. “I think we are at the crossroads of something brilliant here, and we are going to see the prestige of the university grow tremendously in the next 10 years. It’s an amazing ripple and you don’t know how far that ripple is going to go.”