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Skidmore College

Luis Miranda Jr. shares wisdom, humor with Skidmore community

October 20, 2020
by James Helicke

Luis Miranda Jr. shared touching and humorous anecdotes about his career, family and the new HBO documentary about his life with the Skidmore community. He also offered some words of wisdom to Skidmore students: To take advantage of the wide range of courses available through a liberal arts curriculum and to be active in extracurricular activities. 

Speaking during a livestream with College President Marc C. Conner, Miranda — the subject of the documentary “Siempre, Luis,” which made its debut on HBO on Oct. 6 — discussed his involvement in causes, including recent COVID-19 efforts in New York City and relief for his native Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. He encouraged Skidmore students to volunteer and to get involved in a range of activities during their studies.

“Your main responsibility is to make sure you’re doing well at school. But no education is complete if you’re not serving a community … if you’re not doing something else beyond the four or five courses you’re taking,” he said during the live broadcast. “It was really through most of those volunteer experiences that I found real ways of doing work, helping others and feeling fulfilled as a person.” 

Founding partner of the MirRam Group, a government affairs, lobbying and political consulting firm, Miranda previously served in three New York City mayoral administrations.  

A strong advocate for education, Miranda stressed the uniqueness of the liberal arts, which he said “makes you a complete human.” He encouraged students to pursue a wide range of interests and courses and said a liberal arts education offered an opportunity to “sample knowledge” and “exposes you to many roads in life.” 

“At (age) 18, you want to experiment. You want to experience life. You want to learn as much as you can about everything. And that’s what a liberal arts education does,” he said. 

Miranda, who manages the Miranda Family Foundation with his wife, Dr. Luz Towns-Miranda, also spoke about a gift this summer to Skidmore that allowed first-generation students and students with financial need to pursue professional development opportunities that had been disrupted due to COVID-19.

“This has been such an unusual year,” he said, describing the gift as an opportunity to give back. 

The conversation touched on a variety of topics, some tragic — such as troubling relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria — and many others more lighthearted. He described family as his “most important job” and told several touching stories about his children, including his daughter, Luz Miranda-Crespo, who studied at nearby Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. 

A strong proponent of the arts, Miranda also joked about how the family’s affection for Broadway musicals and the arts affected the career of his son, “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“Lin-Manuel often says that I although I tried for him to be a lawyer — I always knew he was not going to be a lawyer — he really had no choice but to be in the performing arts since the house was constantly saturated by the arts and music,” he said. 

Miranda, guardian of Miguel Towns ’23, a sophomore at Skidmore, also spoke about a moving scene in “Siempre, Luis” showing the emotional moment when Towns received a large envelope from Skidmore Admissions. A nervous Towns opened it to find a folder emblazoned with the word “yes,” and his mood transformed to sheer joy. The clip was shown during the event with President Conner.

“Skidmore was always at the top of the list,” Miranda said. “We loved what you get from the students and from the faculty, the way people treat each other.”  

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