By: Yasmin M. Kicinski Anazagasty
Leaders are willing to accept the challenge society has entrusted them. We need leaders to encourage us, to guide us, to provide answers to the all the problems we are facing. Even those leaders, who we may not follow, are needed to debate their ideas to the common table.
One of our student leaders is Gerardo Cruz Ortiz. He is a student’s representative in the Students Council of the UPR of Mayagüez. Gerardo likes to wear polo shirts, which fit well with his conservative views. He is tall and on the muscular side. Always ready to smile. His black hair is cut short.
He is involved in many political organizations like the Puerto Rico Statehood Student Association, the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Party. “I have a passion for political service (serve the people), so I’ve always had a goal to contribute to the development of my country.”
“I have had the opportunity to participate in various educational projects with the purpose of improving the political knowledge in PR.”
These educational projects have been carried out through conferences, workshops, and talks with country’s political leaders, “to achieve a solution to the problem of the status, it is imperative to achieve a change in the public opinion of the people and that is done right through the political education.”
Gerardo comes from a family in which talking about politics was always the topic of discussion, so when he was young his family was very active with regard to politics. There he became interested in politics.
“Ever since childhood I have seen the problem of the status of Puerto Rico as something fascinating”, Gerardo said. “Since the history of P.R. is a story of people struggling to define its political status.”
He formed the Frederick Hayek Society, a student society founded in August 2012, “whose mission is committed to advancing the ideals of free markets and individual liberty in Puerto Rico and abroad.”
Recently, the Frederick Hayek Society held a debate on economic issues at our campus. In this activity participated two professors of the Economics Department, professors Eduardo Kicinski and Edwin Irizarry Mora.
Many people do not like politics, so Gerardo has faced uncomfortable situations defending his political and religious beliefs. For example, Gerardo had to face his grandparents when they learned that he did not belong in their party or subscribe to their way of thinking. Gerardo added, “I broke with the family tradition of supporting the present status.”
It is not easy being a leader when your views run against a more vocal opposition. We all know how passionate people can be when discussing politics or religion.
So among students with different political views, Gerardo had to face very heated discussions. Gerardo added, “I’ve also gone through difficult situations with other students, inside and outside the classroom, but I remained faithful to my beliefs”
Although he felt uncomfortable debating under those circumstances, he rather “rock the boat” than be a “dead fish that follow the stream”.
Despite the difficulties, he has always been able to achieve perseverance with the help of God to stand firm with his principles. “My principles define who I am, and I will always give the battle to defend what I believe.”
One thing leaders have in common is that they are influenced by some special person or persons, who encourage them to follow through with their beliefs. In Gerardo Cruz Ortiz case, his grandfather was his inspiration to be interested in social issues and public service
“My grandfather also taught me that the value of a person is the measure of its rectitude, prudence and seriousness. Be a persevering and a defender of the ideals in which I believe.”
His grandfather also taught him the values of life, his faith in God and to be a good person and serve others well.
Our society does not encourage us to be leaders. From an early age, we are encouraged to follow our parents, our teachers, our church teachings and to follow the rules and the laws of the land. In high school, we are encouraged to be popular, to be part of the group. We don’t dare to be different. Leaders dare to follow their path, they follow their dreams. That is why Gerardo is a leader.