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  • Ferrer, Olga M.

    A black and white photograph of two men presenting a woman with an award. The woman is seated, and she wears a black dress and large string of white pearls. She is shaking the hand of a middle aged man with dark hair and eyeglasses, and he is handing her a large sheet of paper. Another dark headed man with eyeglasses smiles on from the background.Olga M. Ferrer, MD (1918-2007) was born in Cuba. She completed one year of medical school in the United States before returning to Cuba and receiving her medical degree from the University of Havana in 1943.  A year later, she married an American, Alfred Sklar, PhD, and the couple spent the next twenty years splitting their time between Cuba and the United States. Dr. Ferrer became a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology in 1958 and was offered the position of Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Miami in 1960. In 1961, the U.S. government granted Dr. Ferrer refugee status from Cuba. Dr. Ferrer's congressman then began to petition the U.S. Senate to have her citizenship hearing expedited and several fascinating letters were entered into the U.S. Congressional Record on her behalf, including letters from Academy leadership and one letter from Edward Norton, MD, who wrote, "[The impact of Olga Ferrer leaving Cuba in 1960] was so profound...that Fidel Castro was impelled to dedicate one of his speeches to attacking her for leaving Cuba." 

    Image: Howard Palmatier giving a diploma to Olga Ferrer, MD at the Lincoln-Marti awards, 1973 
    Courtesy of University of Miami Libraries, Cuban Heritage Collection  -