José Cabrera is almost halfway through the MAIR Program at OU. Having begun the program in fall of 2016, he expects to graduate in summer 2018. This attorney turned military professional knows the value of education and is always seeking new learning opportunities. We recently caught up with Cabrera – take a moment to get to know a little more about him!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and was raised by my father, a Cuban exile and Delta Airlines retiree, and my late mother, a longtime public servant in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. I attended the University of Dayton and received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History in 2006 and a Juris Doctor degree in 2009. As a law student, I was the National President of the Puerto Rico Statehood Students Association and worked in the US House of Representatives and the Senate of Puerto Rico. I later became an attorney in Puerto Rico and held a private law practice. I am married to my wife Lourdes and we are parents to two rescued Puerto Rican stray dogs. In 2015 I joined the United States Army, and I am currently stationed in Hawaii, serving as a paralegal specialist in the 25th Infantry Division.
What inspired you to join the military?
I have long considered military service in the Armed Forces to be among the greatest ways to serve our nation. My family and I chose to make a big change in our lives and meet the challenge of serving. Another aspect that appealed to me was serving in an organization that based advancement on selfless hard work and merit.
What made you select OU’s MAIR program?
I longed to explore foreign affairs within a graduate context after relying heavily on my previous studies for my professional development. The OU MAIR program appealed to me because professors of renowned caliber travel to Honolulu and teach the courses. You cannot replicate the spontaneity and enriching depth of a live discussion in an online setting. The fact that these classes are taught at historic Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam sealed the deal.
What do you plan to do once you earn your degree? What are your future goals?
The MAIR degree will be a professional asset regardless of the path I choose in the future. Learning about global and regional politics as well as having a better social, historical and economic understanding of my surroundings will make me a better leader of soldiers. Whenever I return to civilian life, I will pursue a doctoral degree and continue serving as an attorney.
What has been your favorite part of being in the program? Anything that has surprised you?
I love reading, engaging with talented peers and learning about the ways of the world. The MAIR Program supplies all of this in spades. More so, I was struck by the quality of the professors, including how much I missed studying foreign affairs and interacting with fellow avid learners.
What would you like to tell other students who are in the program or who are considering it?
Give yourself the opportunity to expand your knowledge and broaden your worldview by joining the OU MAIR Program. If you have traveled the world and have a professional interest in foreign affairs, this program will enhance and sharpen what you have experienced. If you are like me and have not traveled as much, the program will steepen your learning curve and accelerate your professional development.