In the darkness of the early hours of October 27, 1978, my brother and I huddled in the bow of a small motorboat fighting against the ravages of the Atlantic Ocean. The darkness, the solitude of the night, and the ferocious movements of the boat were too much for us to handle. We all thought that we would die. I prayed and I begged the lord for another day so that I could see my parents.

 Once a safe and humble community, Barrio Antioquia—a town in Medellín, Colombia—was now plagued by unemployment and overrun by gangs, drug mules, and hired assassins. Realizing Medellín held no future for their family, Harold Fernandez’s parents travelled illegally to New York to work in sweatshops, leaving their sons behind temporarily. Years later, Harold and his brother risked their lives for the opportunity to join their parents in America.

Harold’s epic journey brought him from the turbulent violence and drug wars of Medellín to the charm and beauty of the mythic classrooms, libraries, and laboratories of Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. On his way to fulfilling his childhood dream of helping others, Harold endured the struggles of living in the margins as an undocumented immigrant.  This is a story of inexhaustible love, unfailing determination, and human compassion.  It shows that in America all dreams are possible.

Recently, Harold’s story was published in the New York Daily News, “Smuggled as a Child from Colombia, Now He’s a Harvard Grad and a Doctor,” and the New York Times, “An Undocumented Princetonian.”

Presem\ntly, Harold A. Fernandez, MD is a leading heart surgeon in New York. He is Professor of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the North Shore-LIJ Hofstra School of Medicine, Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery at Southside Hospital, and system director of heart failure surgery.  He completed his college education at Princeton University, and medical training at Harvard Medical School, and MIT followed by residency and fellowship training at NYU Medical Center.  He currently resides in New York with his wife, Sandra; his daughter, Jasmine; and his son, Brandon.