Degree: Bachelor of Public Administration
College/School: Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs
In high school, Kristina Labrada was a happy, energetic cheerleader and member of the homecoming court.
At 16, however, Kristina’s world came crashing down. Kristina was hospitalized for major depression. When she returned to school, friends turned away and other students bullied her for seeking mental health treatment and for the weight gain caused by medication.
For two years, she said she felt numb and as if she was "in a deep hole." After she graduated from high school, she lost weight but suffered many setbacks – the murder of a good friend; knee surgery; a car accident that led to a difficult back surgery to remove a tumor that was benign, but if undetected could have left her paralyzed.
Kristina refused to give up. She got married and began working for the City of Miami, earning four promotions in five years. Good doctors and her family’s unwavering support helped her keep going, she said, especially her brother Danny, her role model; her grandmother Hilda, who always had a smile despite her own difficulties; her mother Maria, who raised Kristina on her own; and her husband Lander, with whom she has a 10-month-old daughter, Celine. She also credits her professor and mentor “Captain” Bill Press with helping her on her journey to healing.
Kristina, 28, is the first in her family to earn a university degree. She plans to continue working in human resources for the city and pursue her master’s in adult education and human resource development.
By Amy Ellis
Senior Communications Manager
Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs