By Delaney Elder, WU Student

Too often in life, we look at an individual’s accomplishments on a sheet of paper and choose to see them in their simplest form–an accomplishment.

Just another detail of someone’s life that we can look over with a nod and deem them worthy or unworthy of a job position. There’s so much more to that one accomplishment that never comes to mind, so many stories of success and failure that we could never know, unless we ask.

Felix Lugo graduated from Warner University in 2011 with a Master of Science in Management. Before then, he studied at Monroe College in New York City where he earned his bachelor’s. It was after that achievement that he moved to Florida to take a job working with students at the Vanguard School here in Lake Wales.

He worked as a Director of Residential Programs at the Vanguard School and soon felt the desire to earn his master’s. Lugo happened to pass by Warner University every now and then on his way to visit nearby relatives. One day, he decided to stop in and check out what kind of opportunities were possible for him.

Felix met with our Financial Aid office as well as our admissions counselors who pointed him in the right direction, and he soon enrolled in a master’s program. He learned much from his classes and got to study with his new peers even while being enrolled in online classes due to his busy work schedule. Lugo specifically mentioned our Christian Worldviews class as one of the most impactful courses he took, allowing him to become more aware of various worldviews and perspectives that may not always align with Christianity.

Just when he was nearing the end of his program, Felix received the terrible news that no student wants to hear–he had failed one of his classes. He felt devastated to discover he failed the class due to an accidental case of plagiarism. Extremely discouraged, Felix withdrew from continuing his studies and put his masters on an indefinite pause.

That is until Mrs. Yolanda Ortiz passed him while grocery shopping at the local Walmart. Mrs. Ortiz worked in our Financial Aid office at the time and happened to be the person Felix met with once before as he scoped out the master’s program. She went out of her way on her personal time to check up on a student she recognized and ended up pushing him to go back and finish what he started. Felix recalled her telling him, “There’s not many Latinos who are educated. Don’t become a statistic. If you start something, you should finish it.”

They parted ways that day with Yolanda asking Felix to meet with her again to really consider finishing his master’s, and her words got him thinking. He didn’t want to be someone who didn’t finish what they started. He wanted to be someone who put the work in to achieve what he desired; a sentiment he hoped to teach children of his own one day. So, he made the decision to finish his MSM degree and claims that he owes it all to Mrs. Yolanda Ortiz for helping him find the courage and perseverance to go back and finish what he started.

Felix Lugo & Yolanda Ortiz (Pictured left to right)

Mrs. Yolanda Ortiz is no longer with us, but her memory lives on, especially in the ways she chose to impact people’s lives like Felix Lugo’s. Choosing to be there, to pick someone up when they’re feeling down, can change someone’s life. It’s the type of impact Warner University hopes to create, to leave the 99 to find the one sheep who’s gone astray.

Felix Lugo now continues the same line of work with high schools in various states across the U.S. fueled by the inspiration of Mrs. Ortiz’s influence. He hopes he can be that encouragement for the students he works with and pay forward the kindness that’s been given to him. He spends his time outside of work developing his expertise in flán making.

It’s a passion-infused hobby born from a special connection with his grandmother, who taught him her own flán recipe once when he was only 12 years old. He’s spent the years since perfecting the recipe and challenging the traditional fláns the world is used to by creating marvels like a three-tier flán.

He’s even published his own recipe book–since his main interest is to educate others. It was never about the business for Lugo. Being able to teach others what he’s learned while mainly using it to connect to his late grandmother is the true gain. Felix Lugo owes much of his accomplishments to influential people in his life like his grandmother and Mrs. Yolanda Ortiz. It’s a reminder that accomplishments are most important due to what and who were involved in the steps taken to make it happen.