Ernest Segundo '56 has a quiet demeanor. But when he touches on the subject of his formative years at The University of Tampa and what they mean to him, Segundo becomes UT's loudest cheerleader. Adjectives such as "innovative," "best" and "visionary" tumble off his tongue, and it doesn't stop there...Ernest is a man on a mission.
"I'm very strong on education," Ernest says. "If it weren't for the opportunities I received at UT, I don't think I would have been as successful as I have been. My parents were not wealthy people, but they always emphasized education."
Ernest was born in Matanzas, Cuba. In the 1940s his father came alone to the United States, where he first learned of The University of Tampa from a colleague.
"My father came back to Cuba for a visit and told me if I finished school, I could come to the U.S. and attend college at UT," Ernest says. "I was very involved in politics in Cuba, so at the time, school was not so important to me."
However, he decided to accept his dad's offer. When he arrived in Tampa, he went straight to UT and enrolled. It was a new world for the young immigrant. He spoke very little English and was accepted on condition he prove he could be academically successful.
Not only did he prove himself capable, he became a student leader as junior class president, vice president of inter-fraternity and sorority council, and president of Rho Nu Delta fraternity. Upon graduation, Ernest was awarded the UT Achievement Medal for Leadership, the first undergraduate to receive this honor.
Ernest had another surprise waiting for him at UT; he met Connie Felicione '56, his late wife to whom he was married for 49 years. The couple had three children: Ernest Jr., Stephen and Tara Marie.
Prepared for Leadership
With a degree in hand, Ernest secured a position with Mosaic Tile as a sales trainee for Latin America. He ultimately landed a job with Continental Oil Co. (Conoco) and held a number of positions focusing on international sales and marketing.
In 1984, he joined Vista Chemical Co. and was responsible for new business development, marketing and monitoring economic and political developments in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1990, he retired and has focused much of his energy on supporting UT.
Ernest is a former member of the Board of Fellows, and in 1997, joined UT's Board of Trustees. He is trustee emeritus and on the board of the National Alumni Association. In 2002 he was selected for the Esse Quam Videri Outstanding Alumni Award.
"I wish more people would consider a gift that would benefit the University," he says. "I've encouraged others to make a gift and will continue to do so."
When they are not involved in UT activities, Ernest and his wife, Carol, spend much time traveling across the county as well as abroad.
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