WASHINGTON D.C. (WSVN) — One of South Florida’s own was a celebrated guest during a star-studded ceremony at the White House.
It’s a high honor for Dr. Eduardo J. Padron. He was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his life’s work in education.
“In the early 1960s thousands of Cuban children fled to America, seeking an education they would never get at home,” President Obama said. “One refugee was a 15-year-old named Eduardo Padron whose life changed when he enrolled at Miami-Dade College.”
The Miami-Dade College president is credited with elevating the South Florida-based institution of higher learning to national prominence.
“Dr. Padron has built a dream factory for one of our nation’s most diverse student bodies — 165,000 students in all,” Obama said. “He is one of the world’s preeminent education leaders.”
Every year, the president chooses citizens who have made significant contributions to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.
“We’ve got innovators and artists, public servants, rabble rousers, athletes, renown character actors,” Obama listed.
Dr. Padron got the chance to rub elbows with them all as the Class of 2016 honorees were celebrated during a ceremony in the White House East Room.
“Something happens with Tom Hanks, and yet somehow, we can’t resist going where he wants to take us,” Obama said.
Included in that class were Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Robert De Niro and Cicely Tyson.
From the world of sports, basketball stars Kareem Abdul Jabar, Michael Jordan and Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.
Comedy legends Ellen Degeneres and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels were also presented medals.
Rounding out the list, were two singers Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen.
President Obama has awarded the most Medals of Freedom, 114, over the last eight years in office.
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