Andres Lara '01

When Andres Lara ’01 arrived in the United States at age 16, he spoke no English, had no money and found himself homeless for a while. Still, he dreamed of a better life for himself and knew he could achieve his goals through positive thinking and hard work.
    
“Life only makes sense as you look backward, but it can only be lived forward,” he said, meaning that one can only truly see the value of their experiences after they’ve lived them.
   
Today, Lara is the CEO of A. Success Training, a seminar company that gives motivational speeches to school and other groups. He tours the country, giving the speeches himself under the name “The Cuban Guy.”
   
In his talks, Lara gives advice about overcoming difficulties by developing better communication strategies and finding motivation to succeed. He discusses and promotes ways for everybody in his audiences to reach their full potential.
   
“My major was Speech Communication with a minor in Creative Writing. Both my major and minor have come very handy throughout my career after Montclair,” Lara said. In addition to his workload as a Speech major, he sat in on classes with Dr. Robert Gilbert for his own enrichment – sometimes up to four in a semester! “ I almost had perfect attendance to all his classes, even though I was not registered to any of them.” Gilbert’s mentorship proved to be hugely influential on Lara. “I guest if he had a fan club, I would’ve been the president. His mentorship was a priceless part of my four years at Montclair. I used to make my class and work schedule around his classes.”
   
As part of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, Lara became involved with the EOF Human Relations and Leadership Institute, which shaped his education and taught him things he couldn’t learn in the classroom. “I learned under the guidance of Beth Diggs and Carmen Reyes Cuevas some of the principles that now fortune 500 companies, government agencies, universities and individuals from all around the world seek me out to learn from me,” he said.
   
Lara developed the skills he’d need to build a business at an internship at a small seminar company in New York. He employs those skills today as a motivational speaker and CEO of A. Success Training.
   
In addition to giving speeches, Lara is an internationally published author. He’s written four books, all of which deal with the challenge of motivating oneself and staying motivated. Inspire The Sleeping Giant Within, How To Stay Motivated During Difficult Times, The Finish Line and audiobook Challenge The Voice Within & Become Unstoppable are their titles.
   
“Today, as a motivational speaker, I give advice to college students every day,” he said, “but if I was to pick one great piece of advice to give to college students that will stand above all, it would be to have fun.” He urges students to use common sense, but remind them that “they will be adults, with jobs, and responsibilities for the rest of their lives; so enjoy those four years of college as much as you can.”