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Going Above and Beyond: Professor Ruben Cruz

Ruben CruzGoing above and beyond: isn’t that just like an FIT faculty member? Our dedicated faculty members give of themselves both inside and outside the classroom. They give of their creativity and energy, their expertise and industry experience, their teaching talent, their care and concern. They also give of their time. And sometimes—as in the case of Fashion Design Assistant Professor Ruben Cruz—they give of their personal funds.

In the past two years, Cruz—himself a graduate of FIT’s Fashion Design program and now a noted bridal designer—has given more than $80,000 to endow a scholarship that benefits three Fashion Design students each year. Why go the extra distance and become a faculty donor? According to Cruz, it was a no-brainer.

“I noticed there was a need,” he says. “I saw very talented kids drop out because they couldn’t afford school, even though FIT’s tuition is relatively low. They just couldn’t do it—especially those from households with working or single parents who are struggling.”

Cruz remembers his own situation as a student here. A first-generation Puerto Rican New Yorker, he relied heavily on the help of his sisters and parents. “They joined forces and worked really, really hard to make sure I earned my degree,” he says. “And in those days, the cost of tuition was very low. So you can imagine how hard it is now for people from the same kind of background.”

Cruz QuoteIf his family was the inspiration for his giving, the success of his students and his alma mater are the ongoing rewards. “Giving means a lot to me personally because the kids here are extremely talented,” he says. “I’m giving back to a school that shaped my life and opened so many doors for me.”

And maybe fame is a small part of the payoff? Cruz laughs: “Most of the students who get my scholarship don’t know that I’m alive!” he says. “They assume it’s named for someone who has passed away. Even the Ruben Cruz Scholarship winners in my class think it’s another Cruz altogether.” That, he says, is fine with him. “I actually prefer that it be anonymous,” he says. “My satisfaction comes from watching my students do well at FIT and go on to succeed in the industry they love.” quote box: “ I’m giving back to a school that shaped my life and opened so many doors for me.” Ruben Cruz

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