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Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Council celebrates 35th anniversary at annual luncheon

DOWNTOWN — Cyxtera Technologies Manuel Medina reflects on his success with a mix of pride and gratitude, drive and luck, perseverance and blessings.

Medina, the CEO of Miami-based Cyxtera Technologies, delivered a stirring keynote address at the Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Council's recent Latinos Unidos Scholarship Luncheon, bringing the crowd to its feet with his rags to riches story.

As a Cuban refugee who came to the US with his sister when he was just a boy, Medina is now a highly successful business man and entrepreneur in the IT infrastructure and cybersecurity sectors. He was also the founder and former CEO of Terremark, a global provider of managed IT infrastructure services for Fortune 500 companies, until it sold to Verizon in 2011 for $2 billion.

"I have been blessed and I have an obligation to pay it forward," stated Medina.

He is often asked what his secret is and what is his perfect recipe for success. A question Medina says he often disappoints in his response, because there is no secret.

According to Medina success boils down to a combination of hard work, passion, and a positive attitude. Plus, it doesn't hurt to have a mother who pushes you to be better and doesn't take no for an answer. Medina credits a huge part of his success to his mother and father for the sacrifices they made in order to give him and his sister a better life.

The entrepreneur was honored with a key to the city and when it comes to future business in Tampa he said, "I'm so impressed with what's going on here, that I'm seriously considering expanding our presence," said Medina.

The May 8 luncheon at the Hilton Downtown Tampa drew more than 500 people and marked the 35th anniversary of the council and the 20th anniversary of the event, which raises scholarship dollars for Hispanic students at the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College.

The council also annually presents a leadership award to an individual or company that has shown excellence and dedication within the Hispanic community. This year the Matilda Martinez Garcia Leadership Award was presented to Maria M. Hernandez of Lutheran Services Florida.

Hernandez, who came to the United States as a Cuban refugee in the late 1960s, expressed humility after receiving the award. After 37 years of service, she continues to work diligently to help individuals and families adapt and adjust to life in Tampa.

The council also saluted current Mayor Bob Buckhorn and four of its former mayors in attendance: Bob Martinez, Sandy Freedman, Dick Greco and Pam Iorio. Buckhorn, who received a shirt with his playful Hispanic nickname — "Bubba Horn" — stitched on the back, took to the podium to express his gratitude and pride in the scholarship program and the scholarship recipients that have given so much back to the city.

As his last Latinos Unidos luncheon as sitting mayor, he fondly reminisced on the support he received from the Hispanic community during his own campaigns.

"We believe in each other. We are Tampa strong and we are Tampa proud," Buckhorn said. "We don't build walls, we build bridges. We believe in each other and we celebrate each other, and we believe that we have an obligation to give back."

He concluded by declaring May 8 "Latinos Unidos Day."

Contact Jennifer Lima at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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