By Jesika Millano
For AL DIA TODAY
ORLANDO – Cuando el éxito es en tierra ajena, el orgullo es doble, asegura Hernando Ali, un co
ORLANDO – When you succeed in a foreign land, your sense of pride doubles, according to Hernando Ali Baute.
For many, Ali represents the American Dream. He is an example of what can happen when immigrants have the opportunity to take root and access the same resources as other citizens.
Ali arrived in the United States seven years ago, although it was never his plan to settle in this country.
“I was pursuing a career in my passion, music, at a good university in Colombia. I had a comfortable life and I was happy,” he said.
He studied musical production at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá. In addition, he learned to play the accordion from Andrés ‘El Turco’ Gil at the Vallenata Music Academy. For a time, he was an accordion player with the musical group, Tranvía, with which he recorded a single.
However, a disappointing end to a relationship made him rethink his life and, at just 21 years old, Ali decided to embark on a new path in the U.S.
“By that time, I had applied for a visa twice and was denied both times. I decided to do the process again and they approved it. The timing was a huge blessing,” he said.
His first few weeks in the U.S. were more difficult than he anticipated.
“It felt very confusing to get here and not know what I would do,” he said.
“In my country, I depended fully on my parents. All I had to do was study and dedicate myself to music. When I arrived here, it was very different. Culture absorbs you and you have to work,” he added.
His first job was as a waiter in a restaurant.
He knew absolutely nothing about English, but because of his good musical ear, he caught the words of the clients’ requests and then repeated them to his partner.
“That’s how I learned, little by little,” he explained.
At the same time, he was studying in a government school for adults and formally started two years of academic English as a preparatory course for college.
However, Ali allowed himself to aspire to achieve more.
He took refuge in books and began to become interested in those related to finance.
“I realized that I had some affinity with this subject. Oddly, like English, it was something that I never knew that I was interested in. I even hated learning about it in high school,” he said.
A year later, Ali changed jobs and decided to start a new academic path.
“I had to work while I studied, which made it difficult because sometimes I would have to stop studying in order to focus on paying my bills. It took me three and a half years to get my degree in college because I was working at the same time,” he said.
He is currently in his third year of pursuing a finance degree at the University of Central Florida. In addition, he has had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by studying at the technological giant, Apple.
“I knew that music would have to take a back seat, but I never imagined that I would be where I am now doing what I love,” Ali said.
He firmly believes that the U.S. is the place where he can strive to be a better version of himself. He now calls it home and has been able to grow personally and professionally, while still achieving things back in Colombia.
“It all started from a bad experience. My car got stolen and so my insurance company decided to give me the money back,” he said.
“Instead of rushing out to spend that money on a new car, my mother and I decided to invest in real estate in Colombia. It was the best choice we could have made because it gave us many ideas to continue investing,” he explained.
At the same time, he bought a bicycle in order to get to his job. However, he was able to purchase another car within just six months, thanks to his real estate investment.
Ali is certain that, although he lives a dream he did not expect or plan for, the key to his success has been to always persist and push forward.
“Sometimes I feel that I am living the dream of others. I was a person who allowed myself to get shaped and molded, I was never stiff or unwilling to adapt,” he said.
“I stayed restless, looking for opportunities. I think that working in various roles allowed me to discover what I liked.”