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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I am so pleased to see that the Miami Dade College Land Conveyance Act is before the House today. This is a great example of Federal-local partnerships truly benefiting both Miami Dade College and the Bureau of Prisons. This bill will facilitate the construction of a new educational facility in downtown Miami as well as provide secured parking for the Bureau of Prisons.
Miami Dade College has been an essential institution in South Florida for over half a century. It was born of the idea that anyone with a desire to get a college degree should be given that opportunity.
By 1967, the college was the largest institution of higher education in our great State of Florida. Today, it has built upon that position, and is now the largest institution of higher education in the United States, serving over 160,000 students last year, all the while maintaining an affordable and exceptional course of study.
Miami Dade College has been instrumental in the development and success of thousands of students, and I am proud to say that my father, my brother and I are all graduates of this fine institution. It serves our community with fine distinction. In fact, 96 percent of the students enrolled at Miami Dade College are residents from our local area. Just 2 years ago, the college reached a truly incredible milestone. It welcomed its 1.5 millionth student. We are only a community of 2.3 million, so the sheer amount of lives that the college has influenced is astonishing.
When I say that Miami Dade College is central to the educational, social and cultural fabric of South Florida, know that this is no exaggeration. The college also embodies the essence of diversity. Almost 80 percent of its students come from a minority background. It enrolls more minorities than any other college or university in the United States, and in Florida, 33 percent of all minority students attending community colleges are attending Miami Dade College.
This bill will allow for the much needed expansion of the facilities in downtown Miami, and it will allow the college to offer more courses to more students. All this has been made possible by the stellar performance, leadership and guidance of the college president, Dr. Eduardo J. Padron, himself an alum of Miami Dade College. He is a man of unyielding strength and a passion for education. He has spent his entire career making sure that all students have the tools and the opportunities to succeed. His time at Miami Dade College has been defined by growth and greater academic accreditation. He has truly made a positive difference in the lives of countless individuals, and I commend him for all that he continues to do in support of our college.
I thank the Speaker; I thank the Members who have given me this opportunity, and I urge all Members to vote in favor of this legislation, supporting a fine institution of higher learning and the many wonderful students who will benefit from this expansion.
I thank the gentleman for his time, and I thank my good friend from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) for her time as well.
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