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Caesar Morera

As the oldest sibling in the house, Caesar Morera, 26, was left to make a decision that would impact him tremendously - to leave Cuba’s poverty stricken, dictatorship and fulfill his dreams in America or suffer the unbearable pain of not being able to support his family financially.

“[I was] still a child. I had to take control of the [entire family]. I [just finished] high school and in my 2nd year of college...I had to drop [out] because [my mother] got sick and I had to take care of her,” said Caesar.  “I spent 6 months in a hospital with her - it was very hard.  I [had to get] a job at the [local] bank.”

For bank tellers in Cuba at the time, the salary equated to $60 USD a month. As the provider of the family, Caesar relied heavily on his out-of-town relatives’ support.

“The price of the food was [the same as it is] in the United States,” said Caesar. “How can you afford a normal life with that salary - that’s nuts.”

“Working as a teller in Cuba was difficult,” said Caesar. “We didn’t have internet to pay bills or [do transactions] – customers had to go to the bank.”

A chance to live the “American dream” was coming soon. After much consideration, Caesar decided that it was time to leave his mother and siblings and go to America.

On January 8, 2017, Caesar entered the United States. Several days later, the 44th President, President Obama, announced an end to the 20-year-old "wet foot, dry foot" policy that allowed most Cuban migrants who reached U.S. soil to stay and become legal permanent residents after one year.

“I think it was a blessing. I arrived on January 8th and President Obama removed the law on January 12th…I entered the country with all the benefits.  [I didn’t have] any [issues] crossing the border,” said Caesar.

Shortly after his arrival, Caesar had an appointment with the YMCA – the agency in charge of providing all ‘refugees” with access to public benefits: food stamps, medical care, transit options, and employment services. Due to the years of experience Caesar had in banking, the YMCA referred him to SER for the upcoming May 2017 BankWork$ program.

As he went through the BankWork$ course, Caesar was determined to successfully complete the course.  Even if it meant commuting 84 miles (round trip) from Deer Park to Fort Bend County every other day.

Although Caesar’s native language is Spanish, he learned English as a second language in Cuba. By learning English prior to his arrival, Caesar’s transition to the American lifestyle and his understanding of the BankWork$ course material easier.

“The only thing I was missing was practice and I got that when I started the program,” said Caesar.

“[The BankWork$ class] was perfect,” said Caesar.  “It felt like family. [Erica Tirado, SER’s BankWork$ instructor & Ft. Bend Workforce Development Lead], had this way to teaching…she was so warm and gave you the main idea of the class. Erica used examples from real life and her experience - that helped a lot. [To this day], we are still like a family. We use the GroupMe app [to communicate] with each other.”

“I have changed my [way of thinking]. When I first came to this country, I felt like a stranger. Going through this class, I feel more involved in the culture. I am able to embrace [all] situations without [hesitation],” said Caesar.

June 11th, Caesar had more to celebrate than just his mother’s birthday, he graduated from the BankWork$ course and accepted a position to work for Wells Fargo as a full time teller.  Despite an offer made with another financial institution, Caesar decided that Wells Fargo was the better fit for his future endeavors.

 “I felt amazing,” said Caesar.  “When a Cubans come to [America], in the first 6 months, they [can’t find employment] or get these types of jobs because they don’t speak English well. Cubans [settle] for jobs like housekeeping - they get paid for doing it, but they don’t have a wide opportunity for jobs [like this]. I feel blessed, but I put a lot of effort into this.”

“In the banking, the bottom line is the same…you either want to cash a check or withdraw,” said Caesar. “The main difference is technology. In Cuba, not having technology hurt our performance. Everything is easier with technology in the United States.”

As a refugee in America, Caesar plans to continue to live with his family in order to save money with the hopes of applying for his United States residency next year. As Caesar continues to flourish with in his career at Wells Fargo, the idea of enrolling in to college and completing a degree in finance is next on his list of accomplishments.

“The true need to get a job is what kept me [motivated]. I have the opportunity to continue to work in my field. This is incredible…I have to embrace it,” said Caesar.

“Never give up on your dreams. That’s the bottom line. If you want to get something, you have to fight for it, but you never give up on it,” said Caesar.