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Escaped Cuban writer gives success advice

By Lourdes Velasquez
Lourdes Velasquez

October 25, 2012


The "How to Move Forward When You Feel like Quitting" seminar was held by motivational speaker Andres Lara on Oct. 11 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Faculty Lounge.

Lara explained that nothing stopped him from becoming a motivational speaker. He escaped from Cuba at the age of 16 and arrived in the U.S. with no knowledge of the English language. Without his parents and no money, he was homeless for a while.

While in college, he spoke with his professor about his dream and his professor told him something important.

"There's one word that's the key to success," Lara said. "The key word is OYA. OYA stands for Off Your Anatomy and take action."

Those words have stuck with him throughout his journey in becoming successful, and at the age of 26, thanks to those words, he was a millionaire.

"Six a.m., July 9, 1994," he said. "A rowboat in Havana, Cuba. There were 30 people on board. I was one of them."

Lara said there were boats and sirens surrounding them. The men on the boat were telling them to return to Cuba. The people on the boat were petrified. Some were screaming, some were crying, some wanted to jump off the boat, some wanted to stop the boat and others wanted to go back.

"The captain of the boat steps forward and paces back and forth," he said, and says 'if you think that moving forward now this is all going to be painful, try to turn back.'"

"Everything has a challenge," Lara said. While trying to pursue a goal or a dream, things might not go as they are planned.

"The pain of moving forward and failing is temporary, and the pain of quitting or going back is permanent," he said.

"Failing has a purpose," Lara said. It is a learning experience. The experiences will help you make better decisions and do things differently, but if you never try and quit you will lose opportunities of the experiences," he said.

Lara explained that in order to be motivated to move forward to your dream, the dream has to be strong, and the person has to really want it.

"People will try to hold you down. You have to move forward with or without them," he said.

Lara graduated with honors from Montclair State University with a major in speech communication and a minor in creative writing. He has written several books that have been sold internationally.

Lara also spoke at the third Annual Harmony Walk on Sept. 21, 2006. The Harmony Walk celebrated the diversity at UNCP and community.

The seminar was sponsored by the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs and Sodexo.

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