Campus & Community

Mr. Worldwide to headline STEAM luncheon

Pitbull_Headshot300 You might not know his songs by name, but chances are you’ve heard many.

Armando Christian Perez, professionally known as “Pitbull,” has collaborated on hit songs with stars like Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown, Ke$ha and Shakira.

The Grammy award winner has recorded hundreds of songs and sold more than 70 million singles, with No. 1 hits in more than 15 countries.

On Feb. 1, the Palm Beach State College Foundation will welcome him as the keynote speaker for the Foundation’s 2017 STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) luncheon presented by Bank of America.

The event is chaired by Yvonne Boice, a South Florida businesswoman and philanthropist, and will take place at 11:30 a.m. at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ Cohen Pavilion in West Palm Beach. Tickets are $175 if purchased by Dec. 15 and $200 after that date. A table of 10 is $1,700.

He’s had more than 67 million digital downloads, more than 6 billion YouTube views, and has over 22 million Twitter followers and 59 million followers on Facebook. He’s performed in over 50 countries for millions of people – hence the nickname Mr. Worldwide.

The once Miami street rapper, Pitbull is also a savvy businessman and brand entrepreneur who, in addition to a line of fragrances for men and women and a TV development company, also has partnerships with blue-chip brands such as Bud Light, Dr. Pepper, Dodge, Norwegian Cruise Line and others.

Pitbull is passionate about using and advancing technology. Besides using social media to communicate with his fans and supporters, he is co-founder of eMerge Americas. This 3-year-old conference brings together high-tech firms from throughout the Americas and promotes innovation and the development of disruptive technology across a myriad of industries.

What most people don’t know about him is that he is passionate about education. He was initially inspired to pursue his music dream by one of his high school teachers. Now, he wants to make sure other children are inspired and have opportunities to succeed.

“Pitbull understands the impact education can make and encourages quality education for children from all walks of life,” said Suellen Mann, executive director of the Foundation.

At the luncheon, Pitbull, a first generation Cuban American, will discuss the importance of education, as well as how music, math and science are closely related.

“Both the science and music industries use mathematical principles and logic along with creative thinking and inspiration,” said Mann. “Pitbull is a master of blending basic sounds, rhythms and tempos to create incredible and popular music. He sings about enjoying life and hopes his music serves as a brief escape from daily concerns.”

In 2013, Pitbull helped create the SLAM! (Sports, Leadership, Arts and Management) charter school in one of the Miami’s most impoverished neighborhoods

“It’s a tough neighborhood. Ninety-four percent of our students are on free or reduced lunch. However, we graduate 95 percent of our students,” says SLAM former principal Alex Tamargo.

In a recent CNN article, Pitbull, or Mr. 305 as he is known in Miami, explained why the charter school was so important to him.

“The reason it’s so special is ‘cause the kids are me,” said Pitbull. “I can say to them, ‘I can tell you what’s going on in your house right now. I know. I feel you. I’ve been there.’ If we catch them at that little age, mold their minds, teach them what it is to be motivated, self-inspired, believe in themselves because coming from the neighborhood we came from no one believed in us…this is changing the world little by little.”

Pitbull grew up in neighborhoods that had crack and cocaine everywhere, which is one of the reasons he finds his stage name so fitting. He told CNN that he admires the tenacity of the breed. “I like the hunt; I like when people say you can’t, you won’t, you never will,” Pitbull said. Those kind of things turn me on.”

“SLAM!, which educates students in grades 6-12, now has a school in West Palm Beach that could be a direct feeder to Palm Beach State College,” said Mann.

Palm Beach State College offers over 130 academic program options for these students. In addition, the College has developed a specialized curriculum to prepare students for STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts and Math) career paths.

“The College also recently implemented a holistic academic advising program for first-time-in-College students. Local SLAM graduates enrolling at PBSC will benefit greatly from this program where success coaches guide students throughout their college career, providing hands-on academic advising, career counseling, life management resources and scholarship opportunities, which are the gateways to excellence,” said Mann.

In 2017, the Foundation will enter the fifth year of its STEAM initiative to impact the projected shortage of local, skilled professionals in the STEAM fields. Goals include increasing student scholarships, business partnerships, internships and other academic program enhancements to prepare more graduates for these high-wage, high-demand positions.

Sponsors of the event are: AlphaMedia, Bank of America, Comcast, Florida Power & Light, Modernizing Medicine, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Pratt & Whitney,  The Palm Beach Post and WXEL PBS for the Palm Beaches.

For tickets to the 2017 luncheon, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/Foundation/STEAM or call 561-868-3450.

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