EICC students will ‘conquer something beautiful.’
Struggles in life are real, but when you couple a dream, hard work, education, and a never-ending stream of inspiration, a new path appears, as it did for Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ (EICC) graduate Pedro Gomez ‘06.
“EICC has programs that expand your mindset to the point where you can see the impossible can be possible,” said Gomez, who is the global brand ambassador and factory spokesperson for Drew Estate Cigars. “Based on my education, I had the opportunity to pursue this career and grow with the company. I feel blessed to be part of this amazing school institution.”
That was one of the messages he shared with the 2023 graduating class during a speech at Scott Community College (SCC).
Gomez grew up in Estelí, Nicaragua, a city he describes as “one of the toughest places I have ever lived in my life.” He wanted a better life and knew college was the path. His goal was to study international commerce in the U.S., and he applied to the Central American Scholarship Program for the opportunity to do so.
“It was like a dream come true. Being from Nicaragua, getting a visa is like winning the lottery. So, imagine what it's like to be awarded a full scholarship and attend a community college where you know you're going to have so many opportunities,” Gomez said. “EICC is an institution that provides you the tools and path to succeed.”
And, the inspiration, too.
Gomez’s first language is Spanish, and learning a second wasn’t easy. His English as a Second Language instructor at SCC was more than supportive. “He told me to be patient, to persist, study hard, and always be hopeful. His words were an inspiration, and not just to me, but for others in the class, too,” Gomez said.
“My other instructors were also amazing. Every teacher taught me so many things, not just about the subject matter, but also great things about what the real world is all about. Because what you experience in college is very different to what you are going to face once you are in the labor market,” he added.
After graduating with his EICC associate’s degree, he joined Drew Estate Cigars in 2006 as the assistant manager of operations. He witnessed the company's growth from a small factory to a global player selling premium cigars in 75 different countries, and his career took off.
Gomez was promoted to the director of international sales, then the director of tourism, before accepting his current post as global brand ambassador. He travels across the U.S. and abroad, including Europe and Asia. Along the way he carries his EICC experience and provides others with a stream of inspiration.
“No one wants to face struggles, but a struggle is not a failure. It defines what your goal is going to be. So, for the students out there who are doing their best and facing challenges and difficulties, I will tell you, don't give up. Don't give up because around the corner you will conquer something beautiful, not just for you, but something beautiful for your family, for your loved ones, the community and everybody. You are going to change lives,” he said.
“EICC really set me on a path where I could find my purpose and my mission; not just to help me and my family, but also to help my community,” he said. “At the end of the day, it's not about how much you can grow in life but the impact that you can have on the young generation, providing them opportunities and footprints for people to follow,” Gomez said.