Miami Dade College admits two-millionth student

It’s easy to find big, impressive-sounding statistics about Miami-Dade College — with more than 175,000 students, MDC is the largest community college in the country.

But even in a school that big, admitting your two-millionth student is a milestone that stands out. And that’s who MDC says is taking classes this fall semester, which began on Monday.

So who is MDC student number 2,000,000? It’s Taty Rivera, a 2013 graduate of Coral Reef Senior High School who one day plans to be a pediatrician. Rivera got the news a few days before starting classes at MDC’s Kendall campus. College President Eduardo Padrón personally phoned Rivera to congratulate her.

Along with that phone call, Rivera received vouchers good for $200 in textbooks at the college bookstore. When Rivera told her mom, she said the response was “Oh my God, my little baby, you haven’t even started the school and look at you.”

“She was excited, like everybody else,” Rivera said.

Rivera had strong high school grades and test scores — she received MDC’s full-tuition American Dream scholarship — but the 18-year-old said she didn’t bother applying to other schools, even though they could potentially be interested. Rivera said her older brother attended MDC and raved about it, and that recommendation (combined with the convenience of staying close to home and enjoying mom’s cooking) sealed the deal.

“Miami Dade was my first and only choice,” Rivera said.

College officials said the 2,000,000 figure was tracked through the unique student ID numbers that are issued during the admissions process. When Rivera was admitted in March, administrators knew she was the one, but they decided to wait until she began classes to make the big announcement.

For MDC leaders, the two-million milestone was a moment to reflect on all the growth that has taken place since the school opened its doors in 1960. By the mid-1960s, enrollment had skyrocketed from an initial student body of 1,428 students to more than 15,000. From there, MDC’s local footprint would only further increase. The college admitted its one-millionth student in 1999.

Rene Garcia, MDC’s director of enrollment management, said reaching 2,000,000 students is in part due to the college simply being around for a long time. But Garcia said it also shows that the public has embraced MDC’s programs as a way to improve their lives.

“It speaks to not only the reach of the college, but also the realization on the part of the community that economic mobility is driven by education,” Garcia said.