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The man behind the man behind the counter

As students walk into the Hecht-Stanford dining hall for breakfast and lunch on weekdays they are greeted by an unassuming man wearing a black cap, white shirt and dark tie.

With the swipe of a ‘Cane Card, Miguel Delgado admits students into the dining hall with a smile.

“I love my job and I love talking to the people [and]being nice to them because all American people [have]been nice to me,” Miguel said.

Miguel has worked in the dining hall for 18 years, carrying milk, working at the salad bar for many years and doing check-in for the last year and a half.

“I work all the time here and I’m very happy here,” he said. “I love this place. I love the students and you can find out that they all care for me too.”

Students have shown their admiration for him by creating a Facebook group aptly titled “The Miguel Delgado Fan Club,” which boasts a membership of 256 students.

Miguel said he is very happy in the United States, a country which he calls his own, for the good life and treatment he has received.

“I give thanks to God everyday for being in this country, which I love with all my heart,” he said.

Born in 1930 in Cuba, Miguel first started working in a factory at age 13 for only $3 a week.

“I’ve been through hell over there because everything was difficult for me,” he said.

He was able to leave Cuba in 1950 and went to New York with a visa, where he worked nights cleaning dishes in a restaurant on 46th Street and Broadway.

“It was very bad because I didn’t speak English, I had no friends,” he said.

Miguel left the city for three years to work in the cafeteria at Brown University in Rhode Island before returning to New York, his home for almost 40 years in all.

The next move for Miguel came in 1988 when he moved to Miami. He got a job working in the dining hall at University of Miami and he’s been there ever since.

“The friends that I have here in this restaurant, the only thing I can say is they are wonderful,” he said. “I’ve been treated very nicely at this university and I got wonderful bosses.

“I will stay here [Chartwells] as long as they want me because I’m not a young chicken anymore,” he said.

During the more than half-century he has been here, Miguel has never returned to his native land.

“I never went back to my country; I’ve been here all the time,” he said. “I think that I never will be back as long as Mr. Castro [is]there because he ruined my whole family.”

Only one member of his family remains in Cuba, the rest are in the U.S. now, he said. His brother lives in Boston and his sister lives in Miami. He lives with the two boys he raised, who he calls his “sons,” and his granddaughter.

Besides family, religion is also a big part of Miguel’s life.

“I’m a very religious person,” he said. “I don’t like to talk about it, but I am.”

Miguel also has a few hobbies.

“I’ve been all over,” he said regarding traveling. “That’s my hobby.”

A veritable globe-trotter, Miguel has been to almost 20 different countries in at least three continents. He said his favorite is Brazil because it is a beautiful country. He also said he loved England, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Poland.

“I’ve been to so many places; honest to God I can’t remember,” he said.

In addition, Miguel enjoys swimming, walking and nature.

“I love beautiful things,” he said. “I don’t care about buildings; I love the trees, the plants.”

He is especially proud of his character.

“I got a beautiful disposition to talk to people and to be nice to people,” he said. “I have always been like that all my life. I’m a very honest person and I say what I feel.

“I love people,” Miguel said. “I don’t care if they are black, blue or green-it makes no difference, as long as they are a good human being. I go for the heart.”

Greg Linch can be contacted at g.linch@umiami.edu.

April 11, 2006

Reporters

Greg Linch

Former editor in chief (2007-2008)


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