Latino immigrant leaves Cuba for the U.S. and becomes one of the nation’s leading innovation visionaries.
Episode 1: A journey from Cuba to the world of science and innovation.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger’s parents left eastern Europe for a better life. His father set off for Cuba in the 1920s. It was there he met and married his wife in the 1930s. Irving was born in Cuba and spent most his childhood there.
After many years of hard word and long hours, Irving’s father became the proud owner of a modest but profitable retail store. When Fidel Castro came to power all businesses were designated state property. Their dreams of a better life were crushed. With their store nationalized and an uncertain future, Irving’s parents were naturally concerned about what was next. Like many Hispanics their immediate plan was to ensure that their children had more opportunities and a chance for a better life.
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Cuba was the only country Irving had known but his parents knew he would be better off in the U.S., so at age 15, they sent Irving and his sister to live with relatives in Chicago. Excelling in his junior and senior years of high school, he went to college, got his masters and doctorate degree in physics from the University of Chicago. Irving’s next big move was to join IBM.
View View Episode 5: Irving Wladawsky-Berger on STEM, Small & Medium Business here