Coming Full Circle

by William Jaume '77

I was born in Cuba to a middle-class family. When I was 8, my parents sent me to the U.S, as part of Operation Pedro Pan in 1962. I was one of the 14,048 children who left their families through the Catholic Welfare Bureau in what was to become the largest exodus of unaccompanied children in the Western Hemisphere.

With five other boys and about a dozen girls, I ended up in New Jersey at Mount St. John Academy. The separation from my family was supposed to be temporary, but in October—four months after I arrived in the U.S.—the Cuban Missile Crisis changed my family’s plans. They lost their visas and couldn’t leave Cuba. For the next four years, I exchanged letters with my family, speaking to them on the phone just a few times a year. 

When the time came to think about college, I applied and was admitted early decision to Williams, which offered generous financial aid that made it possible for my family to send me there. The first time I saw campus was on move-in day. 

After Williams, I earned an MBA in finance from New York University and spent 25 years working on Wall Street. My Williams education was top notch, but it also opened a lot of doors for me. Starting out, I heard, “Williams, wow” repeatedly from interviewers. The college was seminal in my life in so many ways.

In 2017, nearing my 40th reunion and while doing some estate planning, I realized I was in a position to contribute to Williams’ Teach It Forward campaign by supporting student financial aid. Originally I was considering a planned gift through life insurance, but I realized I didn’t want Williams to have to wait for my financial support.

I decided to combine an outright gift with a planned gift, because I wanted to have an impact now and know there was a student with an immediate scholarship. The possibility of doing so much more later is also very appealing. Williams helped me start a scholarship with a preference given to students of Cuban heritage.

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