Santiago Bolivar

Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration

College/School: College of Business

Santiago Bolivar immigrated to the United States from his native Colombia when he was 14 years old. His mother, who was divorced and laid off from work, found a job opportunity in Florida and was sponsored by a company. She sold the family’s belongings to pay for their immigration to the U.S. Upon arrival, the four stayed with an aunt and shared a one-bedroom apartment, sleeping on an inflatable mattress in the living room.

School began the day after he arrived, and Santiago thrived, earning good grades and a Bright Futures scholarship. After some time, Santiago obtained his green card, his parents reunited, and his father immigrated to the States to join the family.

But then the 2008 recession hit. The company that had hired his mother closed and the family lost everything they had worked for — the cars were repossessed, the house went into foreclosure, and a church provided their food.

Santiago found a job as a part-time bank teller and kept getting promotions. After 10 years, he is now a vice president and small business banker for Bank of America in Broward County. Over the past 10 years he has been working on a bachelor’s degree, as his life commitments allowed. 

Santiago has opened two businesses, recently bought a home for his mom, continues to be involved in three volunteer groups with Bank of America, and will be graduating with honors.

He wants everyone to know that nothing is impossible.

By Ana Acle-Menendez
Writer, College of Business.