Middlesex Community College Professor Earns Major Book Awards

June 22, 2020 (Middletown, Conn.) — Middlesex Community College (MxCC) is proud to announce that Victor Andres Triay, Ph.D., professor of history, has recently earned two major awards for his book, “The Mariel Boatlift: A Cuban-American Journey,” published in September 2019 by the University of Florida Press.

Mariel Boatlift book coverIn March 2020, the 14th annual Florida Book Awards, coordinated by the Florida State University Libraries, announced that Professor Triay’s “The Mariel Boatlift” was the recipient of the Phillip and Dana Zimmerman Gold Medal for Florida Nonfiction.

Then, in May 2020, the book was selected for an Honorable Mention (Local History category) by the American Association for State and Local History’s (AASLH) Leadership in History publication awards committee. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 75th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. The AASLH, which is based in Nashville, conferred 57 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits and publications that represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history, according to their website.

“The Mariel Boatlift: A Cuban-American Journey” presents the stories of Cuban immigrants to the United States who overcame frightening circumstances to build new lives for themselves and flourish in their adopted country. Professor Triay details the violence and mistreatment many Mariel refugees faced at the hands of pro-government mobs and government authorities in Cuba upon leaving the island, their terrifying journey across the Florida Straits, and the unique challenges they encountered entering U.S. society. The refugees’ first-person testimonies reveal both their hardships and successes and illustrate the human impact of international power struggles. Publishers Weekly calls the book “informative and moving” and “especially relevant given current debates surrounding immigration.”

The year 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the Mariel boatlift, since the mass emigration of Cubans took place from April to October in 1980.

Victor TriayProfessor Triay, whose focus is Cuban exile history, has previously published books about Operation Pedro Pan and the Bay of Pigs invasion (Triay’s non-fiction book on Pedro Pan was the first ever written about the topic). In the summers of 2016 and 2017, as a visiting scholar at Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute, Triay was the lead researcher for the largest-ever oral history project on Brigade 2506, the invasion force for the Bay of Pigs invasion.

“Writing is not usually a glorious endeavor. There is the fun part of inspiration, brainstorming, networking and traveling to collect incredible stories from amazing people,” said Triay of Middletown, Conn., in a Facebook post after receiving the first award. “You just know that you’re driven to write for whatever reason and live with the quixotic hope that what you’re writing will somehow see the light of day and make a difference.”

For additional information about the Florida Book awards, please visit their website.

For more information about the AASLH Leadership in History Awards, go to aaslh.org.

Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 70 degree or certificate programs at the main 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.