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Joe Cruz ’74 #VamosNaranja

Joe Cruz ’74

1. Please introduce yourself, the year you graduated, and what was your major when you graduated?

I grew up in the South Bronx in a single parent home. My Mother always stressed education to me and my sisters. We are all College graduates. I was lucky enough to get into Syracuse University and graduate with a B.A. in Sociology in 1974. My goal was to work in a community agency. I wanted to give back to my community. I worked at the Pasadena Community Agency after getting my M.A. from West Texas State and the Los Angeles Unified school District as a personnel assistant. I moved back to New York in 1980 and an opportunity came my way to work at IBM. After 30 years doing marketing, finance and systems, I’ve retired. Education opened up a lot of doors.

2. What was your Syracuse University experience like when you attended?

We were a small Latino group back in the early 70’s. We were very active politically and approached the University for funding to sponsor various events representing the hispanics on campus. With the funding, we started the Puerto Rican Organization (PRO) and lived in the Puerto Rican Coop at 720 Comstock. We had a lot of cultural events and were very active in the Syracuse Hispanic community. It was important to reflect our culture and music. We sponsored Eddie Palmeri, Mongo Santa Maria and put on a Hispanic play called “Muerte in the Ring”. It was about a fighter called Benny “Kid” Paret. Paret won the world welterweight title twice in the early 1960s and died in 1962 following an unsuccessful attempt to defend the crown in what is considered to be the first ring death witnessed by a national television audience. Before graduating and leaving Syracuse, we decided to be more inclusive of other Hispanics and changed the group name from PRO to OLAS (Organization of Latin American Students). This is now called LA LUCHA.

3. What did you do post-SU?

POST S.U. involved a Masters degree and working in Los Angeles. In returning to the New York area, I mailed out my resume to the top 100 companies from Forbes Magazine and heard from Hilton and IBM. Computers were starting to take off and i wanted to be a part of that technology so I took the offer at IBM. I managed a long career at IBM doing various jobs, and the rest is history after 30 years.

4. What’s the best advice you would give to current students?

Stay confident and understand that with an education there is nothing you can’t do or accomplish. Can a person with a Liberal Arts degree succeed at a computer company? You are at the pinnacle of technology. The advances in science and medicine are infinite. Why not be a part of it? Use your education to open doors and accept the challenges you will face with the confidence that you are educated men and women. Failure is not an option. The reins of leadership and activism are now yours. Make a difference in your communities and your businesses. You are the future and our hope for a better world.